President Coolidge Signs Joint Resolution Creating the National Memorial Commission

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  • On March 4, 1929, President Calvin Coolidge took the first step to recognize the contributions of African Americans by signing Public Resolution 107, 70th Congress, on his last day in office. The joint resolution authorized the creation of the National Memorial Commission to procure and determine a location, plans, and designs for a memorial building suitable for meetings of patriotic organizations, public ceremonial events, exhibition of art and inventions, and placing of statues and tablets for the National Memorial Association as a tribute to African American contributions to the achievements of America.
  • The law also stipulated that $50,000 from the U.S. The Treasury would be available once this commission raised $500,000 in private funds. Due to the stock market crash and the Great Depression, the private funds were never raised.


  • Coolidge, Calvin 1872-1933
  • National Museum of African American History and Culture
  • United States Colored Troops Committee of Colored Citizens
  • National Memorial Association


Chronology of Smithsonian History


  • The National Memorial Commission was created by Public Resolution 107 of the 70th Congress and signed by President Coolidge on March 4, 1929. Composed of twelve Presidential appointees, the Director of Public Buildings and Public Parks of the National Capital, the Supervising Architect of the Treasury, and the Architect of the Capitol; the commission was charged with constructing "a memorial building suitable for meetings of patriotic organizations, public ceremonial events, the exhibition of art and inventions . . . as a tribute to the Negro's contribution to the achievements of America."
  • The National Memorial Association was an organization created in 1915 by the Committee of Colored Citizens. It was formed to create a permanent memorial to African Americans' military contributions. The Committee of Colored Citizens was organized by African American veterans to provide support for U.S. Colored Troops veterans participating in the 1915 Grand Review Parade in Washington, D.C.
  • :"A Century in the Making: The Journey to Build a National Museum," Smithsonian's National Museum of African American History and Culture (blog), Tumblr. August 24th, 2016,
  • "The Time Has Come: Report to the President and to the Congress". National Museum of African American History and Culture Plan for Action Presidential Commission, last modified April 2, 2003,
  • S.J. Res. 132, 70th Congress (1929). Public Res. 107, 70th Congress.

Contact information

Institutional History Division, Smithsonian Institution Archives, 600 Maryland Avenue, SW, Washington, D.C. 20024-2520,


March 4, 1929


  • Law
  • History museums
  • Memorials
  • Law and legislation
  • New Museums
  • Museums
  • History
  • Legislation
  • Museums--Law and legislation
  • African Americans
  • History--United States
  • African Americans--History


  • Mall, The (Washington, D.C.)
  • United States

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