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Civilian Conservation Corps

Civilian Conservation Corps

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After he was elected President Franklin D. Roosevelt initially opposed massive public works spending. However, by the spring of 1933, the needs of more than fifteen million unemployed had overwhelmed the resources of local governments. In some areas, as many as 90 per cent of the people were on relief and it was clear something needed to be done. His close advisors and colleagues, Harry Hopkins, Rexford Tugwell, Robert LaFollette Jr. Robert Wagner, Fiorello LaGuardia, George Norris and Edward Costigan eventually won him over. (1)

Frances Perkins explained in her book, The Roosevelt I Knew (1946): In one of my conversations with the President in March 1933, he brought up the idea that became the Civilian Conservation Corps. Roosevelt loved trees and hated to see them cut and not replaced. It was natural for him to wish to put large numbers of the unemployed to repairing such devastation. His enthusiasm for this project, which was really all his own, led him to some exaggeration of what could be accomplished. He saw it big. He thought any man or boy would rejoice to leave the city and work in the woods. It was characteristic of him that he conceived the project, boldly rushed it through, and happily left it to others to worry about the details." (2)

On 21st March, 1933, sent an unemployment relief message to Congress. It took only eight days to create the Civilian Conservation Corps. It authorized half a billion dollars in direct federal grants to the states for relief. The CCC was a program designed to tackle the problem of unemployed young men aged between 18 and 25 years old. By September, 1935, over five hundred thousand young men lived in CCC camps. (3)

The CCC camps were set up all over the United States. Blackie Gold told Studs Terkel: "I was at CCC's for six months, I came home for fifteen days, looked around for work, and I couldn't make $30 a month, so I enlisted back in the CCC's and went to Michigan. I spent another six months there planting trees and building forests. And came out. But still no money to be made. So back in the CCC's again. From there I went to Boise, Idaho, and was attached to the forest rangers. Spent four and a half hours fighting forest fires." (4)

The organisation was based on the armed forces with officers in charge of the men. Over 25,000 men were First World War veterans. The pay was $30 dollars a month with $22 dollars of it being sent home to dependents. The men planted three billion trees, built public parks, drained swamps to fight malaria, built a million miles of roads and forest trails, restocked rivers with nearly a billion fish, worked on flood control projects and a range of other work that helped to conserve the environment. Between 1933 and 1941 over 3,000,000 men served in the CCC. (5)

In one of my conversations with the President in March 1933, he brought up the idea that became the Civilian Conservation Corps. He thought any man or boy would rejoice to leave the city and work in the woods.

It was characteristic of him that he conceived the project, boldly rushed it through, and happily left it to others to worry about the details. And there were some difficult details. The attitude of the trade unions had to be considered. They were disturbed about this program, which they feared would put all workers under a "dollar a day" regimentation merely because they were unemployed.

During the late spring the Civilian Conservation Corps got underway with some awkwardness. What had begun as a simple notion that the experienced foresters would take under their care and direction a certain number of idle young men turned out in practice to be not so simple. There were problems of recruiting; who was to be chosen? There were problems of housing; who was to build the camps? It was finally decided that all those sent to camps should come from families on relief. It was also decided, when pacifying the unions had become something of an issue, that the boys would not build their own camps but that union labour would do it.

The Civilian Conservation Corps became the most popular of all the New Deal agencies. Jobless youths working in the outdoors, teenagers building roads in the unpenetrated sections of the Far West - the prospect caught the public imagination. It also impressed business men. They later showed a preference for hiring a man who had been in the CCC, and the reasoning was simple: employers felt that anyone who had been in the CCC would know what a full day's work meant and how to carry out orders in a disciplined way.

I vividly recall covering the first day of enrollment at army headquarters in downtown New York when the first applicants arrived. Most of them, in thin summer clothes with no overcoats, had lined up before dawn. The first boy accepted was from the lower East Side. He was dancing a jig to celebrate when reporters told him he would probably be sent to the West. He stopped jigging and a newsman asked if anything was wrong. The boy scratched his head and said very seriously, "What the hell are we going to do about those Indians?"

I was at CCC's for six months, I came home for fifteen days, looked around for work, and I couldn't make $30 a month, so I enlisted back in the CCC's and went to Michigan. Spent four and a half hours fighting forest fires...

I really enjoyed it. I had three wonderful square meals a day. No matter what they put on the table, we ate and were glad to get it. Nobody ever turned down food. They sure made a man out of ya, because you learned that everybody here was equal. There was nobody better than another in the CCC's.

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Classroom Activities by Subject

(1) Arthur M. Schlesinger, The Coming of the New Deal (1958) pages 44-45

(2) Frances Perkins, The Roosevelt I Knew (1946) page 177

(3) William E. Leuchtenburg, Franklin D. Roosevelt and the New Deal (1963) page 174

(4) Blackie Gold, interviewed by Studs Terkel, in Hard Times: An Oral History of the Great Depression (1970) pages 76-77

(5) William E. Leuchtenburg, The FDR Years (1995) page 268

Civilian Conservation Corps

President Franklin D. Roosevelt established the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC), originally known as the Emergency Conservation Work program, in 1933 as a means to provide employment for young men in need. This also provided much-needed labor for various public works and conservation projects throughout the United States and its territories.

The United States Departments of War, Labor, Interior, and Agriculture collaborated to create the CCC and keep it running smoothly. Labor leaders objected to the program on several grounds, but by the end of the program in 1942, it had left an indelible legacy.

CCC Legacy History Center

This portion of the website is dedicated to sharing the history of the Civilian Conservation Corps. Visit the Home Page to refer to organizational information.

Membership dues fund this website. If you enjoy this information and find it helpful, please consider becoming a member, or, make a donation to the development of this site. All donations are appreciated and are tax-deductible.

CCC Heritage is all around us

The heritage of the Civilian Conservation Corps is all around us as we go about our everyday lives. Only 79 years old, the CCC is considered "new" by most historical standards. The New Deal and the CCC continues to have major implications to the modern culture and the way we live today. America would be a very different place without the hard work and innovation of those who served.

Historical data is held by many stakeholders

The vast history of the Civilian Conservation Corps covers many facets. Historical data is housed in many different archives and museums at federal, state and county level.

Even more treasures are in attics, basements, and agency offices. Collecting CCC artifacts is becoming more popular. As family members begin to understand the importance of the experience of the CCC enrollee in their midst there is a renewed interest in oral histories and genealogy.

Brief History provides overview of Civilian Conservation Corp Program

For a quick overview of the CCC, please read the Brief History. It is an introduction to the CCC program and its establishment. This History section of the website will provide a brief history and share information and links. Contribution from readers is encouraged. Please send your CCC story to [email protected]

I want to find out where my Dad served?

One of the most commonly asked questions is, "How can I find out where my Dad served?" Records are available from the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), St. Louis, MO. There is now a fee of $70 to request enrollment papers. If you have limited information about his CCC experience it will be necessary to do some preliminary "sleuthing" before you will have the appropriate information to make a request from the records center. Visit our Research Guidelines Page for more information.

Please share your research so others can learn

The coming CCC Interpretive Center will be a safe place for artifacts and archival material. A digital data base has been developed that will enable the sharing of all information. If you do not want to physically donate your personal items, please share your photographs and written material in a digital form so the images can be used for research. Special scanning criteria will apply.

Scan items at 300 dpi and name and describe the items to the best of your knowledge. Both sides of photos should be scanned if they have writing at the back of them. Guidelines are being developed that will provide digital donors with a format for cataloging and describing their donation.

Records of the Civilian Conservation Corps [CCC]

Established: As an independent agency by act of June 28, 1937 (50 Stat. 319).

Predecessor Agencies:

Functions: Provided employment and vocational training for unemployed youths and, to a lesser extent, for war veterans and Indians, through conservation and natural resources development work, and beginning in May 1940, defense work on military reservations and forest protection.

Abolished: By Labor-Federal Security Appropriation Act (56 Stat. 569), July 2, 1942, providing for liquidation by June 30, 1943. Liquidation appropriations continued through June 30, 1948.

Finding Aids: Douglas Helms, comp., Preliminary Inventory of the Records of the Civilian Conservation Corps, PI 11 (Revised, 1980).

Related Records: Record copies of publications of the Civilian Conservation Corps in RG 287, Publications of the U.S. Government. CCC enrollee personnel and payroll records in National Personnel Records Center, St. Louis, MO. Records of the Office of Education, RG 12.
Records of the Veterans Administration, RG 15.
Records of the Office of the Secretary of Agriculture, RG 16.
Records of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, RG 22.
Records of the Office of the Secretary of the Interior, RG 48.
Records of the Government of the Virgin Islands, RG 55.
Records of the Bureau of Indian Affairs, RG 75.
Records of the National Park Service, RG 79.
Records of the Forest Service, RG 95.
Records of the Soil Conservation Service, RG 114.
Records of the Adjutant General's Office, 1917- , RG 407.

Subject Access Terms: New Deal agency.

Textual Records Washington Area 691 cu. ft.
Arch/engrg Plans College Park 169 items
Motion Pictures College Park 2 reels
Still Pictures College Park 10,850 images

590 lin. ft. and 193 rolls of microfilm

History: Emergency Conservation Work established as an independent agency by EO 6101, April 5, 1933, under authority of an emergency employment act of March 3l, 1933 (48 Stat. 22) to relieve unemployment and to restore the country's natural resources through public works. Superseded by CCC, 1937. SEE 35.1.

Textual Records: General correspondence, 1933-42 (427 ft.), with index, 1933-40 (127 ft.). Reference file, 1933-42. Records relating to the organization and operations of the CCC, with emphasis on the role of the Forest Service in CCC activities, 1933-42. Correspondence of the Director, 1933-39. Minutes of the Advisory Council to the Director, 1933-42. Procedural manuals, 1933-42. Microfilm copy of work progress reports, 1933-42 (193 rolls). Army corps area camp status reports, 1941-42. Camp directories, 1933-42. Organization charts, 1941-42. Happy Days, the CCC weekly newspaper, 1933-40. Records relating to proposed merger of the National Youth Administration and the CCC, 1939-42. Correspondence and resolutions relating to memorials for Robert Fechner, first CCC Director, 1940-41.

Architectural and Engineering Plans (169 items): Blueprints of typical CCC camp buildings, 1935-40.

1933-43 (bulk 1933-42)
457 lin. ft.

35.3.1 Records of the Division of Selection

Textual Records: General correspondence, 1933-42. Policy file, 1933-42. Correspondence with state selecting agencies, 1933-42. Records relating to cooperation with federal agencies and the American Youth Commission, 1933-42. State procedural records and manuals, 1933-42. Records relating to enrollment plans and operations, 1933-42. Records relating to the development of the "Plan of Operation," 1936-41. Individual state plans for CCC selection, 1937-42. Records relating to legislation, conferences, and the CCC educational program, 1933-42. Directives, circular letters, bulletins, and instructions, 1933-42. Quarterly and statistical reports, 1933-42. Public relations and publicity files, 1933-42. Speeches and publications, 1938-42. Biographical sketches of "success stories," 1939. Records relating to state personnel merit systems, 1940-41.

35.3.2 Records of the Division of Planning and Public Relations

Textual Records: General correspondence, 1933-42. Publicity materials, pictographs (periodic summary statistics of work accomplishments), articles and speeches, publications, and press releases, 1933-42. News clippings, 1937-42. Radio scripts, 1939- 40.

Photographs (10,342 images): General file of the Emergency Conservation Work and the CCC, 1933-40 (GE, 1,300 images). CCC programs, taken by Wilfred J. Mead and other photographers, 1940- 42 (G, 2,900 images). Recruitment and early activities of President Franklin D. Roosevelt's reforestation army, 1933 (EC, 125 images). Camp superintendent reports (1 ft.) containing photographs illustrating enrollee activities at twelve camps supervised by the National Park Service, 1933-35 (MP, 500 images). Religious services in camps and nearby communities in Kentucky, 1935-42 (GK, 1,000 images). Black enrollees in vocational training sessions, recreational activities, and conservation and other work programs, 1936-39 (N, 150 images). Army corps area enrollee activities, 1936-38 (GC, 3,525 images). Interiors of buildings at Camp Ludington-Pere, MI, ca. 1938 (MOPA, 18 images). CCC activities, ca. 1938, and companies, 1939- 42 (SU, 800 images). Restoration by native enrollees of Haida and Tlinget totem poles in the Tongass National Forest, AK, 1938-39 (TA, 24 images).

Composite Photographic Prints (150 images): CCC sites and company personnel, 1939-40 (MOPD).

Aerial Oblique Photographs (62 images): Camps in CT, MA, and RI, taken by the Connecticut National Guard, 1933 (CA).

Panoramic Prints (14 images): Camps and personnel in AR, CO, OH, and WY, 1934-40 (MOPB).

Photographic Negatives (60 images): Enrollees visiting memorials in Washington, DC, 1941 (WM, 19 images). Civilian defense training methods, 1942 (CD, 41 images).

Color Slides (202 images): Enrollee activities in ID, OR, and WA, by Wilfred J. Mead, 1941 (K).

Lantern Slides (20 images): National Youth Administration slides of emergency conservation work, ca. 1938 (LS).

35.3.3 Records of the Division of Research and Statistics

Textual Records: General correspondence, 1933-42. Records relating to legislation, 1937-42. Monthly station and strength reports, 1933-42. Reports on educational activities, 1935-42.

35.3.4 Records of the Division of Investigations

Textual Records: General correspondence, 1933-42. Administrative files, 1933-42. Camp inspection reports, 1933-42.

35.3.5 Records of the Safety Division

Textual Records: Correspondence and reports, 1933-42. Reports of investigations into deaths of enrollees, 1937-40. Reports of injury, 1937-40. Accident reports, 1933-42.

35.3.6 Records of the Automotive and Priorities Division

Textual Records: Correspondence, 1935-43. Records relating to the Central Motor Repair Divisions and Shops, 1938-40. Reports of inspection trips, 1937-39.

34 lin. ft.

Textual Records: General correspondence, 1940-53. Correspondence relating to the disposal of buildings and property, 1935-48. Records relating to the transfer of CCC camps to states and federal agencies, 1942-47. Records used in facilitating the liquidation process, 1933-53.


SEE Architectural and Engineering Plans UNDER 35.2.

2 reels

A Day in Virginia Camps, documenting a variety of work projects and recreational activities of CCC members, 1934 (1 reel). The Civilian Conservation Corps at Work: Erosion Control, documenting CCC methods of controlling soil erosion, 1934 (1 reel).


SEE Photographs UNDER 35.3.2. SEE Composite Photographic Prints UNDER 35.3.2. SEE Aerial Oblique Photographs UNDER 35.3.2. SEE Panoramic Prints UNDER 35.3.2. SEE Photographic Negatives UNDER 35.3.2. SEE Color Slides UNDER 35.3.2. SEE Lantern Slides UNDER 35.3.2.

Bibliographic note: Web version based on Guide to Federal Records in the National Archives of the United States. Compiled by Robert B. Matchette et al. Washington, DC: National Archives and Records Administration, 1995.
3 volumes, 2428 pages.

This Web version is updated from time to time to include records processed since 1995.

The Civilian Conservation Corps

When Franklin D. Roosevelt took over as president in March 1933 the country was in the midst of the worst depression ever experienced in the United States. Among the organizations established to help relieve the situation was the Civilian Conservation Corps, not only one of the first to begin operations across the country but also one of the most successful of the various “alphabetical agencies” of the New Deal period. Originally referred to only as Emergency Conservation Work (ECW), Roosevelt’s CCC designation had been in popular use from the beginning, and its nicknames “Three C’s,” “Triple C’s,” or simply “The C’s” were widely used. The CCC was designed to simultaneously solve two of the major problems facing the country: provide financial relief and help implement conservation projects.

Several government departments were included among the “technical agencies” which supervised the work of the 116 camps that existed at one time or another in twenty-seven of Utah’s twenty-nine counties over the nine-year life of the CCC. The United States Forest Service supervised forty-seven camps the Division of Grazing—now Bureau of Land Management—had twenty-four camps working on erosion control projects and building reservoirs. The six Bureau of Reclamation camps worked primarily on irrigation schemes, especially the construction of the Midview Dam and lateral canals on the Moon River Project in the Uinta Basin, one of the biggest projects in the state. Range reseeding was one of the main activities of the eight camps of the Soil Conservation Service. The National Park Service had seven camps, primarily in Zion and Bryce National Parks, and it also, along with the city of Provo, jointly supervised the only “Metropolitan Area” camp in Utah. In addition to these, there were also camps assigned to the state of Utah for erosion control and work on state parks, as well as for the U. S. Biological Survey, the Bureau of Indian Affairs, and the U. S. Army. Work assignments for the camps were laid out and supervised by the technical agency in charge, although each camp was under the command of a regular or reserve office of the U. S. Army, which handled the logistics of supply and administration for the program.

The first CCC camp to be completed in Utah was located about ten miles up American Fork Canyon. After establishing a temporary camp, forty young men, or “enrollees,” most of whom were between the ages of eighteen and twenty-three, began construction of two barracks on 17 May 1933. It was July, however, before seventy-five LEMs, or “local experienced men,” arrived from Salt Lake County to fill the complement of two hundred men. The LEMs were hired from the ranks of unemployed carpenters, farmers, lumbermen, miners, and others who had experience in handling horses, men, and equipment, and who could serve as project leaders. While the population of the state determined the number of junior enrollees, the quote of LEMs was based on the number of camps in the state.

The state was treated quite well by the CCC due to the great availability of projects, and for most of the life of the Civilian Conservation Corps, Utah had between thirty and thirty-five camps at any given time. Based on its population, Utah generally had a higher percentage of its manpower quota employed than did most of its neighbors. There were 16,872 junior enrollees from Utah, 746 Indian enrollees, and 4,456 supervisory personnel. In all, there were 22,074 Utah men who were provided employment by the CCC during the nine-year period, plus an additional 23,833 individuals from out of state who worked on projects in Utah.

There were enrollees from the streets of New York City and Ohio, as well as mountain boys from Virginia, Indiana, Kentucky, North Carolina, and West Virginia. Regardless of where the enrollees were from, the camps were occupied by young men who had been through some extremely difficult times and recognized the emergency program as an opportunity for basic survival and even for advancement. The work of the CCC was varied. The corpsmen built trails, phone lines, campground improvements, fences, bridges, cabins, and low-standard roads they built check and silt dams for flood control and the curbing of erosion they dug out poisonous larkspur and other noxious weeds and instituted insect and rodent control. Several of the Forest Service’s CCC camps began many of the loop roads through the canyons of the Wasatch Range. In addition to these jobs at which they regularly worked, the CCC force constituted a 5,500-man fire brigade, units of which could be mobilized any time for forest fire suppression.

In September 1933 the Herald Journal of Logan reflected the attitude prevailing at the time. “One of the most completely successful of all the items on the New Deal program seems to be the forestry work of the Civilian Conservation Corps. . . So well is the project working out that a person is inclined to wonder if it might not be a good thing to make this forest army a permanent affair. . . All of this of course would be pretty expensive but it might be money well spent. . . certainly the question deserves serious consideration. This forest army is too good an outfit to be discarded off-hand.”

There were plenty of projects to support this well-deserved praise: the riprapping along the Virgin River, the bridge over the San Rafael River, the campgrounds up Logan Canyon, the rodeo grounds at Tooele, the Bear River Refuge, the terracing overlooking Willard and Bountiful, and the dozens of reservoirs and springs on the western desert would all qualify. There were also some major projects to which individual camps were devoted for several years. The construction of all-weather roads into Boulder, for example, occupied CCC crews from 1933 until 1941 before that isolated community could be linked year-round to the outside world. Other major projects included five years spent improving bird refuges on Bear River and Ogden Bay.

The CCC performed admirably in many emergency situations over the years. The young men all attended fire-fighting school their first week in camp and the training was put to use many times. The early 1930s was a time of severe drought in Utah, and 1934 was the worst in terms of fire-fighting hours logged by the CCC—nearly twelve thousand man-days, more than one-fourth the total fire time for the full nine years. The year 1936 featured another seriously dry summer, and the CCC crew near Milford spent ten days on the three-thousand-acre Wah Wah Mountain fire, one of the largest fires ever fought in Utah.

The following winter of 1936󈞑 saw heroism become commonplace as Utah experienced one of her worst winter seasons. Operating in what many people considered the coldest weather in Vernal history, CCC crews from the Division of Grazing camp worked around the clock for several days in early January 1937 in temperatures of thirty and forty degrees below zero clearing roads for school buses and for mail and coal deliveries, hauling feed on sleds for thirty-five miles to save starving sheep, and rescuing a sick and bedfast family who had not had a fire for thirty-six hours. In southern Utah, local stockmen requested help from a CCC camp in St. George to try to get feed to herds of cattle and sheep, as well as to people. In eight days of continuous travel, the relief caravan of eight CCC and four private trucks led by an R-5 caterpillar tractor battled snowdrifts for fifty-two miles to Little Tank in the Arizona Strip with twelve tons of cottonseed cake and grain. The situation was grim all across southern Utah.

In addition to regular work projects that benefited the mountains and deserts, the CCC also created good public relations by participating in community work of a volunteer nature this included projects at Pleasant Grove elementary school, St. George city park, and a small earth-and-rock dam to create an artificial lake 1,000 feet long for the Boy Scouts at Camp Kiesel near Ogden. Enrollees at the American Fork camp worked with local Mormon youths preparing the grounds and planting lawns at Mutual Dell, an LDS campground in American Fork Canyon. In cooperation with Brigham Young University, enrollees installed 5,000 feet of pipe in a new sprinkling system at Aspen Grove. Opening a Forest Service camp in Sheep Creek Canyon in Utah’s northeast corner brought a new way of life to the residents of Manila and the surrounding area the camp had the only newspaper, telegraph, and doctor in the county.

In addition to the fences, trails, phone lines, roads, and bridges that had been constructed in addition to the acres of land that had been replanted, terraced, or reseeded and in addition to the fire-suppression and rescue work that had been carried out by CCC crews, their presence brought direct financial benefits to the state. Enrollees received wages of thirty dollars monthly, of which twenty-five dollars was sent home to their families, while the young men were allowed the remaining five dollars to spend on themselves through the month. More than $125,000 a month thus was pumped into the state’s economy through the wages of the Utah enrollees and LEMs alone. Community leaders and CCC officials estimated that a community would benefit financially by $50,000 to $60,000 every year a camp was in the vicinity. Utah merchants profited from government contracts for lumber, equipment, and foodstuffs. The Federal Security Agency estimated that by the time active operations came to a halt in the summer of 1942, the CCC had spent $52,756,183.00 in the state, and Utah ranked seventh in the nation in CCC expenditures per capita.

With the beginning of World War II, the Great Depression came to an end and the CCC folded in July 1942. The army officers in charge of the camps were transferred to military assignments most of the camp personnel either entered the armed services or became involved in defense work. The Salt Lake Tribune bade farewell to the CCC in an editorial of 3 July 1942 in which thanks were expressed for the physical accomplishments and recognition granted for the human achievements as well: “More than all else it aided youth to get a new grip on destiny and obtain a saner outlook on the needs of the nation. . . . The CCC may be dead but the whole country is covered with lasting monuments to its timely service.”

One of the most popular programs in President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s New Deal proved to be the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC). The program’s goal was to conserve the country’s natural resources while providing jobs for young men. African American men played a major role in the CCC in North Carolina. These men built truck trails and roads in the Nantahala National Forest, helping to provide easy access to the Great Smoky Mountains. They constructed telephone lines. They removed dead trees to prevent forest fires. Workers put out forest fires, too, saving timber, property, and possibly even lives. They lessened soil erosion by laying topsoil to prevent land- and mudslides, by landscaping, and by planting trees and shrubs. This work benefited forestland and agricultural areas across North Carolina.

Although most Americans experienced economic hardship during the Depression, some groups and populations suffered more than others. Because of competition for jobs, those without experience or a specific skill found it very difficult to find work. Young people struggled a great deal. The widespread racism and segregation of the time made the suffering of African American youth even worse.

President Roosevelt responded to the Depression in March 1933 by convincing Congress to create the CCC. In 1933 over a third of the 14 million known unemployed were under age 25. The CCC provided conservation jobs for unemployed men, ages 18 to 25, in semimilitary work camps, usually in rural areas. (Some people called the CCC “Roosevelt’s Tree Army,” because its focus included the planting of millions of trees.)

The enrollee (the official term for a CCC participant) was to be employed in the corps for no longer than 18 months. His family had to be receiving some form of government financial assistance. Each enrollee earned a monthly salary of $30 (a fairly good salary for the 1930s), of which $25 was sent home to his family to help buy food, clothing, and fuel. The enrollee kept the remaining $5 to use as he chose. Enrollees received food, clothing, shelter, medical care, and educational and recreational opportunities. They lived in barracks (usually wooden cabins) and got two standard CCC uniforms.

The law establishing the CCC contained a provision that “no discrimination shall be made on account of race, color or creed.” Oscar De Priest, a black congressman from Chicago, insisted on this measure. Yet despite instructions from National Selection Director W. Frank Persons that enrollees be selected without regard to race, CCC administrators in many states refused to select a proportionate share of blacks. By 1935, African American participation in the CCC did reach 10 percent, which might be considered equitable in relationship to the black population in 1930. But, as one historian has written, it was “less than adequate when measured against the disproportionate relief needs of blacks.”

CCC Camps and Work Projects

At first, African American enrollees were to be assigned to CCC camps without regard to race. This did not always happen. Controversies over enrollment of African Americans in the CCC, the location of camps housing them, and the jobs they were assigned lasted throughout the program’s existence. Because of hostility and harassment from some communities, officials separated black and white enrollees. In the South, racially segregated camps were the norm from the beginning.

Between 1933 and 1942, at least 11 African American CCC companies worked in the state of North Carolina. Letters in names identified the racial makeup of the camps. For instance, the “C” in Company 410-C identified the camp as “colored,” a common term at the time. Company 411-W was “white.” North Carolina companies usually averaged between 150 and 200 men.

Most CCC companies in the state performed a variety of tasks, with the camps best described as multipurpose facilities. Officials assigned some companies, however, to “special work projects.” Each camp had two to six project superintendents. Each superintendent had a crew assigned to a particular task: fire suppression or installation of telephone lines, for example. Specific work projects usually lasted for three weeks, at the most. Some African American companies worked on special projects. In an area of Forest City, in Rutherford County, for example, Company 5423-C workers gullied and fenced over 3,000 acres. They planted hundreds of trees and shrubs to reshape the land and stabilize the erosion. This project resulted from a cooperative agreement between the Department of Agriculture’s Soil Conservation Service and private landowners.

Company 3444-C—perhaps the most mysterious African American company that worked in the Tar Heel State, with little information recorded about it—was assigned to Camp Buck Creek in Macon County, about 21 miles west of Franklin, in the Nantahala National Forest. It later moved to Rainbow Springs. (Company 3444-C had been organized at Fort McPherson, Georgia, but soon ordered to North Carolina. Community resistance to its placement may have been the reason.) Initial work projects in the forest around Franklin included construction of truck trails, roads, and telephone lines, and prevention and suppression of forest fires. In addition to contributing to the development of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the company worked on construction of the Blue Ridge Parkway. Four CCC camps were established along the parkway route.

Former Enrollee Recollections of the CCC

A paycheck was not the only good thing about being in the CCC. In written surveys and oral interviews done between 1989 and 1995, African Americans who served in the program in North Carolina said that they mainly benefited in three areas: employment, training, and character development.

The CCC emphasized providing jobs for needy youth, and that was the main reason for joining. One former enrollee who had been an orderly and assistant pay clerk for Company 5424-C remarked, “There were no jobs of a regular nature. Also, it was a chance to send my mother $25 each month.” A former camp blacksmith said, “Times were tight and I needed money at the time.” Declared a former kitchen worker at a New Bern camp, “Times were very tough. My father was not making enough money to make ends meet so I joined the three C’s to help the family.” A former assistant squad leader from Warsaw agreed: “There were not jobs in these small towns, so I joined the CCC.”

Although many CCC projects required only the simplest types of common labor, enrollees could learn other things. Indeed, most of the CCC veterans interviewed admitted that they learned about cooperation with fellow workers and supervisors, the proper care of equipment, the importance of hard work, and a responsible attitude toward a job. While most respondents indicated that their CCC duties did not prepare them for future employment in terms of specific skills, some said that the work did prepare them for their lifetime careers. One former surveyor and topographic mapper with Company 5420-C commented: “My work in the CCC was really the launching pad for my career with the North Carolina Agricultural Extension Service.” One retired CCC worker recalled, “Because I had operated a machine in the CCC, the navy shipyard in Philadelphia was eager to hire me.” He also noted that his experience as a truck operator while in the CCC led to his assignment as a vehicle operator in the United States Army during World War II.

The CCC also provided an education program, conducted during off-duty hours on a voluntary basis. The goal was to help enrollees improve themselves and become more employable once of some academic courses. One respondent from Wilson said, “I improved my reading, arithmetic, spelling, and writing.” A former supply steward from Mars Hill commented that the lessons in reading and spelling greatly helped. Another recalled that, “I [had] only completed the sixth grade, so I participated in some reading and writing classes.”

The CCC educational program gave some of the respondents a chance to complete high school. It motivated others to continue with college work. One CCC veteran who had not completed high school before joining the corps said that his participation in the educational program at Camp Carr gave him an incentive to complete his General Education Diploma (GED) when he entered the army in 1942: “After taking courses in the three C’s I wanted to finish high school after joining the service.” One veteran of the CCC’s Camp Patterson declared, “After I got my [CCC] discharge in 1938, I continued to take courses until I graduated from college in 1942.” A 1948 graduate of what is now North Carolina A&T State University in Greensboro recalled his classes at the State Forest camp near Maple Hill: “The education program was the most important experience. I got a leave from the CCC to go to A&T.” Another enrollee in Maple Hill who participated in the camp education program said, “Following my CCC experience I joined the navy. After World War II, I attended and graduated from Delaware State.”

Overall, although former enrollees had mixed opinions about the job training they got in the CCC, most considered their work experience to be valuable. The CCC provided direct and immediate financial benefits, and participation enhanced future work habits.

Although the CCC program ended in 1942, its impact continued. Unquestionably, enrollees made important contributions to the maintenance of North Carolina’s natural resources. They planted millions of trees built hundreds of lookout towers built thousands of miles of telephone lines, truck trails, and minor roads and saved thousands of acres of land from the ravages of disease, fire, and soil erosion. The CCC built or improved many parks and recreation areas, including Fort Macon State Park, Hanging Rock State Park, Cape Hatteras State Park, Mount Mitchell State Park, and Morrow Mountain State Park, as well as the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and the Blue Ridge Parkway. African American corpsmen participated fully in this conservation of the state’s natural resources, gaining valuable education and work skills along the way.

*At the time of this article’s publication, Dr. Olen Cole Jr. was a professor in and chairperson of the Department of History at North Carolina A&T State University in Greensboro. He wrote The African American Experience in the Civilian Conservation Corps (Gainesville, Florida: University Press of Florida, 1999).

Civilian Conservation Corps

Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) camps across the nation provided employment and vocational training for thousands of young men from 1933 to 1943. President Franklin D. Roosevelt called for the establishment of such an organization just two days after his inauguration on March 4, 1933. Roosevelt hoped to put up to 500,000 unemployed young men to work in forests, parks, and range lands. The first enrollee entered the program on April 7. By the end of 1933 the CCC was well established with 275,000 men in camps across the United States and in Alaska, Hawaii, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands.

The U.S. government provided recreation, as well as food, clothing, and shelter for the enrollees in camps run by the War Department. Some CCC camps published newspapers for at least part of their existence. The Tecumseh Scout of August 4, 1936, put out by CCC Company 763, included reports of leisure activity at the Tecumseh, Nebraska, camp in the summer of 1936.

A horseshoe tournament was scheduled for the week of August 24, open to anyone in the camp. "The contest will be played on the courts located in back of the first platoon barracks. The canteen will award one carton of cigarettes to the winner of the singles and two cartons to the winners of the doubles." A volleyball court was being constructed and an organized intra-barracks tournament was planned. Bee keepers among the corps members were reported to have nine hives.

Astronomers within the Tecumseh group during the last weeks of July had been "watching the progress of Peltier's comet as it moved through the evening sky. With the astronomy class as a nucleus a group of enrollees located the comet in the eastern sky July 22nd and followed its path from evening to evening of the following week. The comet was the first one for the majority of the group and proved to be a rare spectacle in the heavens."

The column concluded with the news that the War Department would send a number of magazines to each camp for the coming year. Included were such diverse titles as Saturday Evening Post, Argosy, Cosmopolitan, Judge, Reader's Digest, True Detective Mystery, and Popular Mechanics. Elsewhere in the paper it was announced that the Scout would cease with the August 4 issue and that camp news would continue in the Tecumseh Chieftain.


As governor of New York, Franklin D. Roosevelt had run a similar program on a much smaller scale, known as the Temporary Emergency Relief Administration (TERA). It was started in early 1932 to "use men from the lists of the unemployed to improve our existing reforestation areas." In its first year alone, more than 25,000 unemployed New Yorkers would be active in its paid conservation work. [9] Long interested in conservation, [10] as president, Roosevelt proposed to Congress a full-scale national program on March 21, 1933: [11]

I propose to create [the CCC] to be used in complex work, not interfering with normal employment and confining itself to forestry, the prevention of soil erosion, flood control, and similar projects. I call your attention to the fact that this type of work is of definite, practical value, not only through the prevention of great present financial loss but also as a means of creating future national wealth.

He promised this law would provide 250,000 young men with meals, housing, workwear, and medical care for working in the national forests and other government properties. The Emergency Conservation Work (ECW) Act was introduced to Congress the same day and enacted by voice vote on March 31. Roosevelt issued Executive Order 6101 on April 5, 1933, which established the CCC organization and appointed a director, Robert Fechner, a former labor union official who served until 1939. The organization and administration of the CCC was a new experiment in operations for a federal government agency. The order directed that the program be supervised jointly by four government departments: Labor, which recruited the young men War, which operated the camps the Agriculture and Interior, which organized and supervised the work projects. A CCC Advisory Council was composed of a representative from each of the supervising departments. In addition, the Office of Education and Veterans Administration participated in the program. To end the opposition from labor unions (which wanted no training programs started when so many of their men were unemployed) [12] Roosevelt chose Robert Fechner, vice president of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, as director of the corps. William Green, head of the American Federation of Labor, was taken to the first camp to demonstrate that there would be no job training involved beyond simple manual labor. [13]

Reserve officers from the U.S. Army were in charge of the camps, but there was no military training. General Douglas MacArthur was placed in charge of the program, [14] but said that the number of army officers and soldiers assigned to the camps was affecting the readiness of the regular army. [15] However, the army also found numerous benefits in the program. When the draft began in 1940, the policy was to make CCC alumni corporals and sergeants. The CCC also provided command experience to Organized Reserve Corps officers. George Marshall "embraced" the CCC, unlike many of his brother officers. [16]

Through the CCC, the regular army could assess the leadership performance of both regular and reserve officers. The CCC provided lessons which the army used in developing its wartime mobilization plans for training camps. [17]

An implicit goal of the CCC was to restore morale in an era of 25% unemployment for all men and much higher rates for poorly educated teenagers. Jeffrey Suzik argues in "'Building Better Men': The CCC Boy and the Changing Social Ideal of Manliness" that the CCC provided an ideology of manly outdoor work to counter the Depression, as well as cash to help the family budget. Through a regime of heavy manual labor, civic and political education, and an all-male living and working environment, the CCC tried to build "better men" who would be economically independent and self-reliant. By 1939 there was a shift in the ideal from the hardy manual worker to the highly trained citizen soldier ready for war. [18]

Early years, 1933–1937 Edit

The legislation and mobilization of the program occurred quite rapidly. Roosevelt made his request to Congress on March 21, 1933 the legislation was submitted to Congress the same day Congress passed it by voice vote on March 31 Roosevelt signed it the same day, then issued an executive order on April 5 creating the agency, appointing its director (Fechner), and assigning War Department corps area commanders to begin enrollment. The first CCC enrollee was selected April 8, and subsequent lists of unemployed men were supplied by state and local welfare and relief agencies for immediate enrollment. On April 17, the first camp, NF-1, Camp Roosevelt, [19] was established at George Washington National Forest near Luray, Virginia. On June 18, the first of 161 soil erosion control camps was opened, in Clayton, Alabama. [20] By July 1, 1933, there were 1,463 working camps with 250,000 junior enrollees (18–25 years of age) 28,000 veterans 14,000 American Indians and 25,000 adults in the Locally Men (LEM) program. [21] [22]

Enrollees Edit

The typical CCC enrollee was a U.S. citizen, unmarried, unemployed male, 18–25 years of age. Normally his family was on local relief. Each enrollee volunteered and, upon passing a physical exam and/or a period of conditioning, was required to serve a minimum six-month period, with the option to serve as many as four periods, or up to two years, if employment outside the Corps was not possible. Enrollees worked 40 hours per week over five days, sometimes including Saturdays if poor weather dictated. In return they received $30 per month (equivalent to $600 in 2020) with a compulsory allotment of $22–25 (about equivalent to $470 in 2020) sent to a family dependent, as well as housing, food, clothing, and medical care. [23]

Following the second Bonus Army march on Washington, D.C., President Roosevelt amended the CCC program on May 11, 1933, to include work opportunities for veterans. Veteran qualifications differed from the junior enrollee one needed to be certified by the Veterans Administration by an application. They could be any age, and married or single as long as they were in need of work. Veterans were generally assigned to entire veteran camps. [24] Enrollees were eligible for the following "rated" positions to help with camp administration: senior leader, mess steward, storekeeper and two cooks assistant leader, company clerk, assistant educational advisor and three second cooks. These men received additional pay ranging from $36 to $45 per month depending on their rating.

Camps Edit

Each CCC camp was located in the area of particular conservation work to be performed and organized around a complement of up to 200 civilian enrollees in a designated numbered "company" unit. The CCC camp was a temporary community in itself, structured to have barracks (initially Army tents) for 50 enrollees each, officer/technical staff quarters, medical dispensary, mess hall, recreation hall, educational building, lavatory and showers, technical/administrative offices, tool room/blacksmith shop and motor pool garages.

The company organization of each camp had a dual-authority supervisory staff: firstly, Department of War personnel or Reserve officers (until July 1, 1939), a "company commander" and junior officer, who were responsible for overall camp operation, logistics, education and training and secondly, ten to fourteen technical service civilians, including a camp "superintendent" and "foreman", employed by either the Departments of Interior or Agriculture, responsible for the particular fieldwork. Also included in camp operation were several non-technical supervisor LEMs, who provided knowledge of the work at hand, "lay of the land," and paternal guidance for inexperienced enrollees. [25] [26] Enrollees were organized into work detail units called "sections" of 25 men each, according to the barracks they resided in. [27] Each section had an enrollee "senior leader" and "assistant leader" who were accountable for the men at work and in the barracks.

Work classifications Edit

The CCC performed 300 types of work projects in ten approved general classifications:

  1. Structural improvements: bridges, fire lookout towers, service buildings
  2. Transportation: truck trails, minor roads, foot trails and airfields : check dams, terracing, and vegetable covering : irrigation, drainage, dams, ditching, channel work, riprapping : tree planting, fire prevention, fire pre-suppression, firefighting, insect and disease control and recreation: public camp and picnic ground development, lake and pond site clearing and development : stock driveways, elimination of predatory animals : stream improvement, fish stocking, food and cover planting
  3. Miscellaneous: emergency work, surveys, mosquito control [28]

The responses to this seven-month experimental conservation program were enthusiastic. On October 1, 1933, Director Fechner was directed to arrange for the second period of enrollment. By January 1934, 300,000 men were enrolled. In July 1934, this cap was increased by 50,000 to include men from Midwest states that had been affected by drought. The temporary tent camps had also developed to include wooden barracks. An education program had been established, emphasizing job training and literacy. [22] : 10

Approximately 55% of enrollees were from rural communities, a majority of which were non-farm 45% came from urban areas. [29] Level of education for the enrollee averaged 3% illiterate 38% had less than eight years of school 48% did not complete high school and 11% were high school graduates. [24] At the time of entry, 70% of enrollees were malnourished and poorly clothed. Few had work experience beyond occasional odd jobs. Peace was maintained by the threat of "dishonorable discharge". "This is a training station we're going to leave morally and physically fit to lick 'Old Man Depression,'" boasted the newsletter, Happy Days, of a North Carolina camp.

Minorities Edit

Because of the power of conservative Solid South white Democrats in Congress, who insisted on racial segregation, most New Deal programs were racially segregated blacks and whites rarely worked alongside each other. At this time, all the states of the South had passed legislation imposing racial segregation and, since the turn of the century, laws and constitutional provisions that disenfranchised most blacks they were excluded from formal politics. Because of discrimination by white officials at the local and state levels, blacks in the South did not receive as many benefits as whites from New Deal programs.

In the first few weeks of operation, CCC camps in the North were integrated. By July 1935, however, all camps in the United States were segregated. [30] Enrollment peaked at the end of 1935, when there were 500,000 men in 2,600 camps in operation in every state. All received equal pay and housing. [31] Black leaders lobbied to secure leadership roles. [32] Adult white men held the major leadership roles in all the camps. Director Fechner refused to appoint black adults to any supervisory positions except that of education director in the all-black camps. [33]

Indian Division Edit

The CCC operated a separate division for members of federally recognized tribes: the "Indian Emergency Conservation Work Division" (IECW or CCC-ID). Native men from reservations worked on roads, bridges, clinics, shelters, and other public works near their reservations. Although they were organized as groups classified as camps, no permanent camps were established for Native Americans. Instead, organized groups moved with their families from project to project and were provided with an additional rental allowance. [34] The CCC often provided the only paid work, as many reservations were in remote rural areas. Enrollees had to be between the ages of 17 and 35.

During 1933, about half the male heads of households on the Sioux reservations in South Dakota were employed by the CCC-ID. [35] With grants from the Public Works Administration (PWA), the Indian Division built schools and conducted a road-building program in and around many reservations to improve infrastructure. The mission was to reduce erosion and improve the value of Indian lands. Crews built dams of many types on creeks, then sowed grass on the eroded areas from which the damming material had been taken. They built roads and planted shelter-belts on federal lands. The steady income helped participants regain self-respect, and many used the funds to improve their lives. John Collier, the federal Commissioner of Indian Affairs and Daniel Murphy, the director of the CCC-ID, both based the program on Indian self-rule and the restoration of tribal lands, governments, and cultures. The next year, Congress passed the Indian Reorganization Act of 1934, which ended allotments and helped preserve tribal lands, and encouraged tribes to re-establish self-government.

Collier said of the CCC-Indian Division, "no previous undertaking in Indian Service has so largely been the Indians' own undertaking". Educational programs trained participants in gardening, stock raising, safety, native arts, and some academic subjects. [36] IECW differed from other CCC activities in that it explicitly trained men in skills to be carpenters, truck drivers, radio operators, mechanics, surveyors, and technicians. With the passage of the National Defense Vocational Training Act of 1941, enrollees began participating in defense-oriented training. The government paid for the classes and after students completed courses and passed a competency test, guaranteed automatic employment in defense work. A total of 85,000 Native Americans were enrolled in this training. This proved valuable social capital for the 24,000 alumni who later served in the military and the 40,000 who left the reservations for city jobs supporting the war effort.

Expansion, 1935–1936 Edit

Responding to public demand to alleviate unemployment, Congress approved the Emergency Relief Appropriation Act of 1935, on April 8, 1935, which included continued funding for the CCC program through March 31, 1937. The age limit was expanded to 18–28 to include more men. [22] : 11 [37] April 1, 1935, to March 31, 1936, was the period of greatest activity and work accomplished by the CCC program. Enrollment peaked at 505,782 in about 2,900 camps by August 31, 1935, followed by a reduction to 350,000 enrollees in 2,019 camps by June 30, 1936. [38] During this period the public response to the CCC program was overwhelmingly popular. A Gallup poll of April 18, 1936, asked: "Are you in favor of the CCC camps?" 82% of respondents said "yes", including 92% of Democrats and 67% of Republicans. [39]

Change of purpose, 1937–1938 Edit

On June 28, 1937, the Civilian Conservation Corps was legally established and transferred from its original designation as the Emergency Conservation Work program. Funding was extended for three more years by Public Law No. 163, 75th Congress, effective July 1, 1937. Congress changed the age limits to 17–23 years old and changed the requirement that enrollees be on relief to "not regularly in attendance at school, or possessing full-time employment." [40] The 1937 law mandated the inclusion of vocational and academic training for a minimum of 10 hours per week. Students in school were allowed to enroll during summer vacation. [41] During this period, the CCC forces contributed to disaster relief following 1937 floods in New York, Vermont, and the Ohio and Mississippi river valleys, and response and clean-up after the 1938 hurricane in New England.

From conservation to defense, 1939–1940 Edit

In 1939 Congress ended the independent status of the CCC, transferring it to the control of the Federal Security Agency. The National Youth Administration, U.S. Employment Service, the Office of Education, and the Works Progress Administration also had some responsibilities. About 5,000 reserve officers serving in the camps were affected, as they were transferred to federal Civil Service, and military ranks and titles were eliminated. Despite the loss of overt military leadership in the camps by July 1940, with war underway in Europe and Asia, the government directed an increasing number of CCC projects to resources for national defense. It developed infrastructure for military training facilities and forest protection. By 1940 the CCC was no longer wholly a relief agency, was rapidly losing its non-military character, and it was becoming a system for work-training, as its ranks had become increasingly younger and inexperienced. [42]

Decline and disbandment 1941–1942 Edit

Although the CCC was probably the most popular New Deal program, it never was authorized as a permanent agency. The program was reduced in scale as the Depression waned and employment opportunities improved. After conscription began in 1940, fewer eligible young men were available. Following the attack on Pearl Harbor in December 1941, the Roosevelt administration directed all federal programs to emphasize the war effort. Most CCC work, except for wildland firefighting, was shifted onto U.S. military bases to help with construction.

The CCC disbanded one year earlier than planned, as the 77th United States Congress ceased funding it. Operations were formally concluded at the end of the federal fiscal year on June 30, 1942. The end of the CCC program and closing of the camps involved arrangements to leave the incomplete work projects in the best possible state, the separation of about 1,800 appointed employees, the transfer of CCC property to the War and Navy Departments and other agencies, and the preparation of final accountability records. Liquidation of the CCC was ordered by Congress by the Labor-Federal Security Appropriation Act (56 Stat. 569) on July 2, 1942, and virtually completed on June 30, 1943. [43] Liquidation appropriations for the CCC continued through April 20, 1948.

Some former CCC sites in good condition were reactivated from 1941 to 1947 as Civilian Public Service camps where conscientious objectors performed "work of national importance" as an alternative to military service. Other camps were used to hold Japanese, German and Italian Americans interned under the Western Defense Command's Enemy Alien Control Program, as well as Axis prisoners of war. [44] Most of the Japanese American internment camps were built by the people held there. After the CCC disbanded, the federal agencies responsible for public lands organized their own seasonal fire crews, modeled after the CCC. These have performed a firefighting function formerly done by the CCC and provided the same sort of outdoor work experience for young people. Approximately 47 young men have died while in this line of duty. [ citation needed ]

    , Fort Payne, Alabama
  • Civilian Conservation Corps Museum and Memorial, [45] at Monte Sano State Park, Huntsville, Alabama , Vail, Arizona , San Luis Obispo, California
  • North East States Civilian Conservation Corps Museum, [46] Camp Conner, Stafford, Connecticut , Sebring, Florida
  • Civilian Conservation Corps Museum, Vogel State Park, Blairsville, Georgia , Waimea, Kauai County, Hawaii , Strawberry Point, Iowa
  • Michigan Civilian Conservation Corps Museum, [47]Roscommon, Michigan , Allenstown, New Hampshire , New Lisbon, New York , Greentown, Pennsylvania
  • Lou and Helen Adams Civilian Conservation Corps Museum, Parker Dam State Park, Huston Township, Clearfield County, Pennsylvania , Ninety Six, South Carolina , Chesterfield, Virginia
  • Civilian Conservation Corps Legacy, [48]Edinburg, Virginia , Rhinelander, Wisconsin
  • West Virginia CCC Museum, [49]Harrison County, West Virginia
  • Civilian Conservation Corps Museum, Guernsey State Park, Guernsey, Wyoming
  • James F. Justin Civilian Conservation Corps Museum [50]
    , enrollee, country music singer , enrollee, actor , enrollee , author , enrollee, folklorist , enrollee . Army officer in charge of camp , historian , former technical forester, ecologist, environmentalist , enrollee , enrollee, actor , enrollee, actor , enrollee, the Light Heavyweight Boxing Champion of the World , enrollee, professional baseball player , enrollee, politician , enrollee, baseball player/manager , enrollee, American actor in vaudeville, theater, radio, film and television , U.S. administrator, National Park Service supervisor of CCC Program , enrollee, test pilot , a project superintendent

In several cities where CCC workers worked, statues were erected to commemorate them. [51]

  • Pride of the Bowery (1940), the fourth movie in the East Side Kid series, is a movie about friendship, trouble, and boxing at a CCC camp.
  • The American Experience[52] PBS series showcased documentaries on American history it portrayed the life in Civilian Conservation Corps in 2009, in the first episode of Season 22. [53]
  • Jeanette Ingold's novel Hitch (2012) is a young adult book about a teenager in the CCC. [54]

The CCC program was never officially terminated. Congress provided funding for closing the remaining camps in 1942 with the equipment being reallocated. [55] It became a model for conservation programs that were implemented in the period after World War II. Present-day corps are national, state, and local programs that engage primarily youth and young adults (ages 16–25) in community service, training, and educational activities. The nation's approximately 113 corps programs operate in 41 states and the District of Columbia. During 2004, they enrolled more than 23,000 young people. The Corps Network, known originally as the National Association of Service and Conservation Corps (NASCC), works to expand and enhance corps-type programs throughout the country. The Corps Network began in 1985 when the nation's first 24 Corps directors banded together to secure an advocate at the federal level and a repository of information on how best to start and manage a corps. Early financial assistance from the Ford, Hewlett and Mott Foundations was critical to establishing the association.

Similar active programs in the United States are: the National Civilian Community Corps, part of the AmeriCorps program, a team-based national service program in which young adults ages 18–24 spend 10 months working for non-profit and government organizations and the Civilian Conservation Corps, USA, (CCCUSA) managed by its President, Thomas Hark, in 2016. Hark, his co-founder Mike Rama, currently the Deputy Director of the Corporate Eco Forum (CEF) founded by M. R. Rangaswami, and their team of strategic advisors have reimagined the federal Civilian Conservation Corps program of the 1930s as a private, locally governed, national social franchise. The goal of this recently established CCCUSA is to enroll a million young people annually, building a core set of values in each enrollee, who will then become the catalyst in their own communities and states to create a more civil society and stronger nation. [56]

Student Conservation Association Edit

The CCC program became a model for the creation of team-based national service youth conservation programs such as the Student Conservation Association (SCA). The SCA, founded in 1959, is a nonprofit organization that offers conservation internships and summer trail crew opportunities to more than 4,000 people each year.

California Conservation Corps Edit

In 1976, Governor of California Jerry Brown established the California Conservation Corps. This program had many similar characteristics - residential centers, high expectations for participation, and emphasis on hard work on public lands. Young adults from different backgrounds were recruited for a term of one year. Corps members attended a training session called the Corpsmember Orientation Motivation Education and Training (COMET) program before being assigned to one of the various centers. Project work is also similar to the original CCC of the 1930s - work on public forests, state and federal parks.

Nevada Conservation Corps Edit

The Nevada Conservation Corps is a non-profit organization that partners with public land management agencies such as the Bureau of Land Management, United States Forest Service, National Park Service, and Nevada State Parks to complete conservation and restoration projects throughout Nevada. [57] Conservation work includes fuel reductions through thinning, constructing and maintaining trails, invasive species removal, and performing biological surveys. [58] The Nevada Conservation Corps was created through the Great Basin Institute and is part of the AmeriCorps program. [59]

Minnesota Conservation Corps Edit

Conservation Corps Minnesota & Iowa provides environmental stewardship and service-learning opportunities to youth and young adults while accomplishing conservation, natural resource management projects and emergency response work through its Young Adult Program and the Summer Youth Program. These programs emphasize the development of job and life skills by conservation and community service work.

Montana Conservation Corps Edit

The Montana Conservation Corps (MCC) is a non-profit organization with a mission to equip young people with the skills and values to be vigorous citizens who improve their communities and environment. Collectively, MCC crews contribute more than 90,000 work hours each year. The MCC was established in 1991 by Montana's Human Resource Development Councils in Billings, Bozeman and Kalispell. Originally, it was a summer program for disadvantaged youth, although it has grown into an AmeriCorps-sponsored non-profit organization with six regional offices that serve Montana, Idaho, Wyoming, North Dakota, and South Dakota. All regions also offer Montana YES (Youth Engaged in Service) summer programs for teenagers who are 14 to 17 years old.

Texas Conservation Corps Edit

Established in 1995, Environmental Corps, now Texas Conservation Corps (TxCC), is an American YouthWorks program which allows youth, ages 17 to 28, to contribute to the restoration and preservation of parks and public lands in Texas. The only conservation corps in Texas, TxcC is a nonprofit corporation based in Austin, Texas, which serves the entire state. Their work ranges from disaster relief to trail building to habitat restoration. TxCC has done projects in national, state, and city parks.

Washington Conservation Corps Edit

The Washington Conservation Corps (WCC) is a sub-agency of the Washington State Department of Ecology. It employs men and women 18 to 25 years old in a program to protect and enhance Washington's natural resources. WCC is a part of the AmeriCorps program.

Vermont Youth Conservation Corps Edit

The Vermont Youth Conservation Corps (VYCC) is a non-profit, youth service and education organization that hires Corps Members, aged 16–24, to work on high-priority conservation projects in Vermont. Through these work projects, Corps Members develop a strong work ethic, strengthen their leadership skills, and learn how to take personal responsibility for their actions. VYCC Crews work at VT State Parks, U.S. Forest Service Campgrounds, in local communities, and throughout the state's backcountry. The VYCC has also given aid to a similar program in North Carolina, which is currently in its infancy.

Youth Conservation Corps Edit

The Youth Conservation Corps is a youth conservation program present in federal lands around the country. The program gives youth aged 13-17 the opportunity to participate in conservation projects in a team setting. YCC programs are available in land managed by the National Park Service, the Forest Service, and the Fish and Wildlife Service. Projects can last up to 10 weeks and typically run over the summer. Some YCC programs are residential, meaning the participants are given housing on the land they work on. Projects may necessitate youth to camp in backcountry settings in order to work on trails or campsites. Most require youth to commute daily or house youth for only a few days a week. Youth are typically paid for their work. YCC programs contribute to the maintenance of public lands and instill a value for hard work and the outdoors in those who participate.

Conservation Legacy Edit

Conservation Legacy is a non-profit employment, job training, and education organization with locations across the United States including Arizona Conservation Corps in Tucson and Flagstaff, Arizona Southwest Conservation Corps in Durango and Salida, Colorado and Southeast Conservation Corps in Chattanooga, Tennessee. Conservation Legacy also operates an AmeriCorps VISTA team serving to improve the environment and economies of historic mining communities in the American West and Appalachia. Conservation Legacy also hosts the Environmental Stewards Program - providing internships with federal, state, municipal and NGO land management agencies nationwide. [60] Conservation Legacy formed as a merger of the Southwest Youth Corps, San Luis Valley Youth Corps, The Youth Corps of Southern Arizona, and Coconino Rural Environmental Corps.

Conservation Legacy engages young adults ages 14 to 26 and U.S. military veterans of all ages in personal and professional development experiences involving conservation projects on public lands. Corp members live, work, and learn in teams of six to eight for terms of service ranging from 3 months to 1 year.

Sea Ranger Service Edit

The Sea Ranger Service is a social enterprise, based in Netherlands, that has taken its inspiration from the Civilian Conservation Corps in running a permanent youth training program, supported by veterans, to manage ocean areas and carry out underwater landscape restoration. Unemployed youths are trained up as Sea Rangers during a bootcamp and subsequently offered full-time employment to manage and regenerate Marine Protected Areas and aid ocean conservation. The Sea Ranger Service works in close cooperation with the Dutch government and national maritime authorities. [61]

Aina Corps Edit

The Aina Corps performed environmental restoration work in Hawaii in 2020, funded by the CARES Act. [62]

Civilian Conservation Corps

The CCC was established by Congress on April 5, 1933 as recommended by President Franklin B. Roosevelt. On April 27th Maine received its first quota for 1,800 men, mostly youths between 18 and 24.

The quota was divided proportionately among the counties based on population, with Cumberland getting 256 and heavily forested Piscataquis receiving only 44 slots. The U.S. War Department administered the program and Fort Williams, at Cape Elizabeth, in Portland Harbor became the headquarters and training center for both Maine and New Hampshire. A recruiting office in Bangor served Aroostook, Hancock, Penobscot and Piscataquis counties.

After physical exams and conditioning, recruits were assigned companies in project camps for a minimum of six months and a maximum of two years. The base pay was $30 per month of which $25 went to the enrollee’s family. Leaders selected from the recruits earned somewhat more.

By July, 1933, 1,600 enrollees were in fourteen camps from southern Maine to the White Mountain National Forest, to Acadia National Park.

While the original law required young men to be unemployed to be eligible for the CCC, a revision in 1935 expanded enrollment to men on public assistance, either directly or through their families. It also increased the upper age bracket to 29. As a result by July of 1935, Maine’s enrollment had nearly doubled to 2,763 and peaked in November at 3,425 in nineteen camps.

After 1937, the Corp’s emphasis was less on emergency relief and more on training young men eager to work. Later, as the war in Europe loomed large, training having military value became more apparent. By early 1942 only two companies remained and they soon closed.

CCC Memorial Dedication, 2001

Overall, 16,686 Maine enrollees, 1,612 supervisors and technical staff, and 1,136 out-of-state enrollees served in 28 camps in the Pine Tree State. Most were under twenty years old, but their families received $4 million during the period.

Most work involved road construction and maintenance in the unorganized townships to support fire suppression efforts. Other significant projects included those fighting forest insect pests such as the gypsy moth, the brown-tail moth, and the spruce saw fly and fighting white pine blister rust.

A memorial to Maine CCC members was dedicated in Augusta on the Capitol grounds in April, 2001.

Civilian Conservation Corps Camps
by Supervisory Agency, Location and Camp Name

Supervisor / Location Camp Name
National Park Service
Southwest Harbor Great Pond
Bar Harbor Eagle Lake
Ellsworth Governor Brann
Millinocket Baxter Park, Foster Field
Millinocket Baxter Park, Avalanche Brook
Camden Camden Hills
U.S. Forest Service
Gilead, Stow Wild River, Cold River
U.S. Bureau of Biological Survey
Ayer Junction Moosehorn
Maine Forest Service
Flagstaff Flagstaff
Greenville Moosehead
Millinocket Millinocket
Patten Patten
Princeton Far East
Rangeley Rangeley
Seboomook Seboomook
Beddington Beddington
Grant Farm Kokadjo
Wesley Kerwin Brook
Alfred Alfred
Jefferson Jefferson
Lewiston Lewiston
Bridgton Bridgton
Stow Cold River
Hurricane emergency

Additional resources

Caldwell, John Carroll. A Curriculum Proposal for a Civilian Conservation Corps Camp in rural Maine: a proposal based on 211 individual histories and daily contact during camp residence with 124 enrollees during 1936-1937. 1937. (Thesis (M.A.) in Education–University of Maine, 1937) [Orono. University of Maine. Raymond H. Fogler Library. Special Collections.]

In the Public Interest [moving image recording]: The Civilian Conservation Corps in Maine. Augusta, Me. University of Maine at Augusta Press, 1988. [University of Maine at Presque Isle. Special Collections]

Maine. Committee to Establish a Memorial Dedicated to the Civilian Conservation Corps. Final Report of the Committee to Establish a Memorial Dedicated to the Civilian Conservation Corps. Augusta, Me. Office of Policy and Legal Analysis. 2000.

McGuire, Harvey Paul. The Civilian Conservation Corps in Maine: 1933-1940.

Schlenker, Jon A. In the Public Interest: the Civilian Conservation Corps in Maine. Augusta, Me. University of Maine at Augusta Press. c1988.

Civilian Conservation Corps - History

Director Fechner talks to enrollee during inspection trip of camp NP-14 Rock Creek Park, Washington, D.C.
Courtesy of the National Archives.

Throughout the existence of the ECW/CCC, the program provided work for 5 percent of the total United States male population. President Roosevelt's primary goal for the program was to take unemployed youths out of the cities and build up their health and morale while contributing to the economic recovery of the country. Not only would they receive wages for their work, but money would also be sent to their dependents so that the program would provide benefits to the greatest number of people. The work was to restore the enrollees to physical health and increase their confidence in themselves and the nation. A secondary goal of the program was to effect needed conservation measures on forest, park, and farm lands. A related goal was to provide the nation with increased recreational opportunities. The Park Service saw the program as a way to accomplish conservation and development within the national parks and to assist in the creation and enlargement of a nationwide state parks system. [1]

The first accomplishment of the CCC was having 250,000 young men working within three months of its establishment--the greatest peacetime mobilization of American youth. The next major accomplishment came in the coordination and development of a nationwide state parks program, one that was instrumental in establishing the first state parks for Virginia, West Virginia, South Carolina, Mississippi, and New Mexico. In 1934, Oklahoma and Montana designated their first parklands. New parks were added or existing parks were expanded in 17 other states, including New York, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, California, and Michigan, as a direct result of the program. The state parks program also gave the Park Service an opportunity to set standards for park development and planning throughout the nation. Concerning national parks and monuments, the Park Service asserted that during the first few months of operation the ECW advanced the cause of forestry work dramatically. It was estimated that millions of dollars of annual losses caused by forest fires, tree diseases, insects, rodent infestation, and soil erosion were prevented by this conservation effort. [2]

Beginning in 1933 a series of silent motion pictures was produced about the activities of the CCC in the national park areas. The motion pictures were part of a large campaign by the Roosevelt administration to gain support for the New Deal programs. By 1935 more than 30 films had been made showing work at Morristown National Historical Park, Mesa Verde National Park, and Glacier National Park, among others. The films ranged in content and design from training films for enrollees in forest conservation work to educational films for the general public on the benefits of the program for local communities and the nation. In addition, Director Fechner encouraged the parks to keep the local press informed of program activities. [3]

One sure way to focus local and national attention on the program was to have celebrities visit the camps, foremost of whom was President Roosevelt. The first presidential visit was made on August 12, 1933, to camps in the Shenandoah Valley. The presidential party included Secretary of the Interior Harold Ickes, ECW Director Robert Fechner, National Park Service Director Arno Cammerer, and other dignitaries. Roosevelt's inspection tour began in Harrisonburg, Virginia. By lunch time the party had reached the Park Service Big Meadows' camp on Skyline Drive, where the president stopped to have lunch with the youths--steak, mashed potatoes, green beans, salad, ice tea, and mock apple pie. Here a photograph session was held with reporters and a short motion picture was made in which Roosevelt talked about the progress of the program and how it had already benefitted the nation and American youth. He concluded by quipping, "The only difference between us is that I am told you men have put on an average of twelve pounds each. I am trying to lose twelve pounds." [4] During the summer of 1934, the president and his family visited Glacier and Hawaii national parks, inspecting the camps. Earlier, Eleanor Roosevelt had visited several eastern camps, including the one at Acadia National Park.

In the summer of 1934, Director Fechner visited various CCC camps and was impressed with the amount of work accomplished in national parks. The work was becoming visible to the public in the form of new trails, campground facilities, and vista clearing. Within the national parks nearly 4,000 acres of campgrounds had been developed--ranging from primitive campsites to areas with fireplaces, parking spaces, and water systems. The Park Service estimated that the overall work in national parks and monuments amounted to more than $9 million in permanent improvements, and the value of state park work was set at over $27 million for the first two years. [5]

In 1934 the Army conducted a contest to determine the finest company in each of the nine corps areas. The companies were given formal inspections and their records were reviewed by CCC officials to determine the winners. The black 323d company at Colonial National Monument won first place in the state of Virginia and second in the Third Corps area. That same year the black company from Colonial National Monument was invited to attend a William and Mary football game. Prior to the game the company marched out on the playing field, saluted the crowd, took their seats, and cheered for the home team. The William and Mary fans were delighted by the performance and sent complimentary letters to the superintendent. [6]

By 1935, but three years after the program started, Park Service officials concluded that the CCC had advanced forestry and park development by 10 to 20 years. Equally impressive was the development of state parks: 41 states now had active state parks programs that were created, developed, and/or expanded through the CCC. The variety of projects undertaken on the state level, such as constructing wading pools, restocking fish streams, and creating artificial lakes, gave the enrollees rudimentary labor skills. [7]

On July 3, 1936, President Roosevelt dedicated Shenandoah National Park. He took the opportunity to praise the contribution of the CCC in the establishment, development, and conservation of the new park and he called for establishment of a permanent conservation program. An editorial in The New York Times agreed with the president and praised the organization for providing useful employment for American youth and conserving the nation's parks and forests at a fair cost to taxpayers. A nationwide opinion poll taken in 1936 revealed that over 80 percent were in favor of continuing the CCC program, with the strongest support coming from the Rocky Mountain and Pacific Coast states. [8]

Early in 1937 Roosevelt approved the use of four 100-member contingents, each from a different CCC camp, to march in the presidential inaugural parade. It was requested that one company be composed of black enrollees, and the first choice for that company was the Gettysburg CCC camp. There existed concern over the transporting and housing of the men during and after the inaugural ceremony, however, and it was decided instead that the black company working on the National Arboretum would march in the parade. Two of the white contingents chosen were from NPS camps in Virginia and Washington, D.C. [9]

As of 1938 the CCC had developed more than 3 million acres for park use in 854 state parks. A third of these acres were acquired and developed between September 1936 and September 1937. The CCC had also developed 46 recreational demonstration projects in 62 areas within 24 states. By this time Park Service superintendents believed that CCC work on trails, campgrounds, and picnic areas explained the 25 to 500 percent park visitation increase that the parks were enjoying. [10] In 1938 the national parks and monuments had the best fire suppression record in a decade, an achievement attributed to the improved detection and fire-fighting methods developed during the period of CCC work. [11]

American dignitaries were not the only visitors to the CCC camps. In June 1939, King George VI of Great Britain and his queen toured CCC camps in Virginia. President Roosevelt presented the couple with a handcrafted CCC photographic album as a memento of the trip. In 1940 the Duke of Windsor visited with Roosevelt while en route to become governor general of the Bahamas. The duke asked Roosevelt if he might inspect a CCC camp as he considered adopting a similar work program for the Bahamas. President Roosevelt arranged for him to visit a camp in Virginia. [12]

Over the years the CCC camps were not only opened to royalty but to the American public. On special occasions or on days of local importance the camps often were opened for public inspection and special activities were planned for the day. Most camps held open houses to commemorate the establishment of the CCC. On the seventh anniversary of the CCC, President Roosevelt wrote a laudatory letter to Director McEntee commending the corps for its service to American youth and its protection of natural resources. [13]

By the time the CCC was terminated in 1942 a total of 2 million enrollees had performed work in 198 CCC camps in 94 national park and monument areas and 697 camps in 881 state, county, and municipal areas. Through the CCC program 711 state parks had been established. In a public opinion poll taken shortly after the beginning of World War II, the CCC was ranked as the third greatest accomplishment of the New Deal program. [14]

Today, people look back on the Civilian Conservation Corps as one of the most successful New Deal programs. Several organizations have been formed composed of former CCC members and people interested in the program. In almost every presidential campaign, one candidate or another proposes to inaugurate a new CCC program. In less than 10 years the CCC left a lasting legacy for America and the National Park Service. The extensive development and park expansion made possible by the CCC was in large part responsible for the modern national and state park systems.

Watch the video: Built To Last: The Legacy of the Civilian Conservation Corps in Minnesota (June 2022).


  1. Palmere

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  2. Pauloc

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  3. Squier

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