13 U.S. Code § 3 - Seal

§ 3.

The Bureau shall have a seal containing such device as has been selected heretofore, or as the Secretary may select hereafter. A description of such seal with an impression thereof shall be filed in the office of the Secretary of State. The seal shall remain in the custody of the Secretary or such officer or employee of the Bureau as he designates, and shall be affixed to all documents authenticated by the Bureau. Judicial notice shall be taken of the seal.

(Aug. 31, 1954, ch. 1158, 68 Stat. 1012; Pub. L. 85–207, § 2, Aug. 28, 1957, 71 Stat. 481; Pub. L. 94–521, § 2, Oct. 17, 1976, 90 Stat. 2459.)
Historical and Revision Notes

Based on acts Mar. 3, 1899, ch. 419, § 31, 30 Stat. 1021; Mar. 6, 1902, ch. 139, § 6, 32 Stat. 52.

Section is new to the United States Code, but is in accordance with current practice. Act Mar. 3, 1899, ch. 419, 30 Stat. 1014, which established the “Census Office” on a temporary basis, provided in section 31 thereof (30 Stat. 1021) for a seal for that office. The office was made permanent by act Mar. 6, 1902, ch. 139, 32 Stat. 51, and section 6 of that act (32 Stat. 52) continued in full force and effect “for the taking of the Thirteenth and subsequent censuses” all provisions of the act of Mar. 3, 1899, not inconsistent with the provisions of such 1902 act. Therefore, since the 1902 act contained no provisions with respect to a seal, section 31 of the 1899 act, providing for the seal, remained in force as it was not inconsistent. Section 33 of act July 2, 1909, ch. 2, 36 Stat. 10, which act (36 Stat. 1) related to the Thirteenth and subsequent decennial censuses, repealed the said act of Mar. 3, 1899, specifically, and all “other” laws and parts of laws inconsistent with the provisions of the 1909 act. These repealing provisions are somewhat ambiguous, but it was probably the intent of Congress, as it was the intent thereof at the time of enactment of the act of Mar. 6, 1902, referred to above, to continue in effect all provisions of the act of Mar. 3, 1899, that were not inconsistent with the act of July 2, 1909. The 1909 act contained no provisions with respect to the seal, and it accordingly follows that the provisions of section 31 of the act of Mar. 3, 1899, with respect thereto, continued in force. This is also the interpretation of the Bureau of the Census, which has continued to use a seal through the years in connection with “certificates and attestations”.

In any event, this new section merely confirms past and present practice, and restores, if it does not preserve, statutory authority for possession and use of the seal which is a very necessary part of the operations of the Bureau. Further, the section should serve to forestall future differences of interpretation. In the past, some States have refused to recognize the seal of the Census Bureau on the ground that it was not authorized by law. In all probability, this position was taken, not as the result of a search of the Statutes at Large, which would have been a difficult project, but because provisions relating to the seal were not set out in the United States Code where they would have been readily accessible.

The language of this section follows substantially the language of section 31 of the act of Mar. 3, 1899, referred to above, but has been reworded because of jurisdictional and other changes since that time. The “Census Office” was transferred from the Department of the Interior to the Department of Commerce and Labor by act Feb. 14, 1903, ch. 552, § 4, 32 Stat. 826. Act Mar. 4, 1913, ch. 141, § 1, 37 Stat. 736, changed the name of the latter to the Department of Commerce, and created, as a separate department, the Department of Labor. It transferred a number of bureaus and agencies from the Department of Commerce to the Department of Labor, but these transfers did not affect the Bureau of the Census, which has remained under the jurisdiction of the Department of Commerce. 1950 Reorganization Plan No. 5, §§ 1, 2, eff. May 24, 1950, 15 F.R. 3174,64 Stat. 1263, transferred all functions of all officers, employees, bureaus, and agencies of the Department of Commerce to the Secretary of Commerce, and vested power in him to delegate them or any of his other functions to any of such officers, employees, bureaus, and agencies. Therefore, in this section, “Secretary”, and “Secretary or such officer or employee of the Bureau as he designates”, were substituted, respectively, for two references to the Director of the Census, to conform with such Plan.


1976—Pub. L. 94–521 substituted “affixed to all documents authenticated by the Bureau” for “affixed to all certificates and attestations that may be required from the Bureau”.

1957—Pub. L. 85–207 provided for judicial recognition of the seal.

Effective Date of 1976 Amendment

Amendment by Pub. L. 94–521 effective Oct. 17, 1976, see section 17 of Pub. L. 94–521, set out as a note under section 1 of this title.

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15 CFR - Commerce and Foreign Trade


15 CFR Part 100 - SEAL


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