Funds for the construction of the building were appropriated in 1930, with an additional appropriation in 1935. It was mentioned in in Title II “Public Works and Construction Projects” (Section 203) in the National Industrial Recovery Act. The building opened to the public in 1939 as the Library of Congress Annex.
The Annex later went though two name changes. The first one was in 1976 when it was changed to the Thomas Jefferson Building (PL 94-264, 90 Stat. 329). The second change was in 1980 when it became the John Adams Building (PL 96-269, 94 Stat. 486).