I. Bibliographic Essay: What are the best sources and key issues in the study of the Civilian Conservation Corps?-
II. Primary Sources-
III. Secondary, Scholarly Sources-
IV. Scholarly Journal Articles-
V. World Wide Web Resources-
VI. Other Sources-
I. Bibliographic Essay: What are the best sources and key issues regarding the study of the CCC?
The U.S. Civilian Conservation Corps (commonly called the CCC) was a successful New Deal agency, established by Franklin D. Roosevelt, lasting from 1933-1942. The goals for this institution were twofold—first and foremost, it was created to provide emergency employment for thousands of out-of-work young men who were suffering the hardships of the Great Depression. Secondly, the Corps was put in place to undertake a variety of conservation projects. The goals of such projects were to preserve the nation’s natural resources, as well as to improve public recreational facilities, parks, and forests.
Despite its success and great public support, the Corps would eventually be abolished in 1942—a Congressional decision, mostly resulting from the nation’s shift to a wartime economy and need for a strengthened military, as well as a dramatic decrease in the unemployment at the dawn of the new decade. This was the end of a program that had, at one time, employed up to 600,000 young men. It had given them a new lease on life, as well as afforded them the means to assist their parents and siblings with monthly monetary aid.
The historical importance of the CCC does not seem to be reflected with an abundance of scholarly literature. The more broad topic—the grand scale of the New Deal, with its scores of relief programs and bureaucratic agencies to be sorted through—tends to be a more inviting topic for historians in their scholarly pursuits and writings. This leaves the CCC historian with only a few key, scholarly works to draw from.
This could be seen as a problem, or a blessing for the budding historian interested in the history of the Corps. On one hand, a lack of scholarly work leaves an avenue wide open for new, groundbreaking studies based on the plethora of primary sources one can find on the CCC. It does prove a disadvantage, however; in a less established historical field, the problems, controversies, and key issues will not always be as apparent as one in which much scholarly investigation has been done.
In scouring over the most scholarly works on the CCC—which, in their scarcity, are (for the majority) articles and essays and not books—one may find a few reoccurring names and titles. The "standard institutional account" on the CCC, as referred to in many works on the Corps, is John A. Salmond’s The Civilian Conservation Corps: A New Deal Case Study, 1933-1942. An interesting figure, Salmond was a New Zealander who spent time in the U.S. at Duke University as a James B. Duke Fellow while conducting the research for his book. Most of his other works related to this time period in American history (i.e. the New Deal), among them being an article on African Americans in the CCC.
In all works on the CCC that would follow his publication, almost every one refer at least once to Salmond’s expertise regarding this area. In fact, his expertise has resulted in the only piece of literature on this topic prescribed in the American Historical Association’s Guide to Historical Literature. It is hailed as a "detailed, well-researched history" of the CCC.
Aside from the so far un-supplanted Salmond, there are a few other works that receive much attention in scholarly writings about the Corps. Among these are the less scholarly, but not less useful, works of Leslie A Lacy, Holland and Hill, Arthur Schlesinger, William Leuchtenburg, and Charles P. Harper. While only a few of these of these are noted historians, their work on the CCC, and its context as it related to the New Deal, are referred to in many works (often referring to each other) on the CCC.
Schlesinger’s work, The Age of Roosevelt: The Coming of the New Deal is noted by many sources to be one of the best (if not the best) work on the New Deal. A bonus to the CCC historian, Schlesinger makes much mention to the place of the CCC in the New Deal, and is a source that many works refer to. Leuchtenburg’s Franklin D. Roosevelt and the New Deal: 1932-1940 is also a noted work on the New Deal, and contains mention of the CCC as well.
Though there is limited professional scholarship on the Corps, the issues that arise at its mention are many. When writing about the CCC, historians often address the issues of racism and segregation that occurred in camps nationwide, and the struggles for positions other than cooks and laborers as they fought the system of racial prejudice that was fundamental in the very administration of the CCC.
Other issues that arise in respect to the Corps are, in a sense, more obscure; or newfangled enough to not to have much (if any) published opinion regarding them. One interesting approach, not often taken in conventional literature about the CCC, was to compare the Corps to the Nazi work camps in Germany under Hitler—drawing some very striking similarities between the two. Another unconventional view of the CCC has been posed, that the U.S. government created it so that a new group of strong, "virile", white men would emerge from the depression, ready to take on the role of middle-class manhood. CCC relations with the Army, questions of the propriety of camp life, as well as questioning the fundamental preparation of the boys and whether that was enough for them to enter the real world; these all frock historical writing on the CCC with questions and conflicts that arose in respect to this program. Such diverse representations of the CCC stray from the traditional approach of addressing simply the administrative and political aspects as seen in Salmond’s work, being mostly articles in scholarly journals such as "Journal of Negro History" and "Political Science Review".
The following annotated bibliography is a collection of primary, scholarly/secondary, journal articles, internet resources, and others that provide useful information for the CCC historian. The publication dates range from the start of the Corp in the early 30’s, to the present year; thus giving a look at the historiography of this topic as well. With these sources, the researcher should be able to have a foundation to explore all aspects and issues concerning the CCC.
II. Primary Sources
1. American Youth Commission. The Civilian Conservation Corps, Recommendations of the American Council on Education.1941.
This source is a pamphlet, issued by the American Youth Commission, aimed at describing the findings of its three-year study of the CCC and the economic and social experience of its enrollees. It contains a brief statement of purpose for the CCC, a description of the average enrollee, how enrollees are selected and assigned to camps, and of average camp life. The AYC validates the CCC as a beneficial experience in the development of citizenship, making them obedient and hardworking. It gives suggestions in order to further this citizenship training, the camp administration should become better structured and organized. While being positive and constructive, this source could be used well to display criticism that was held against the CCC.
2. Butler, Ovid, ed. Youth Rebuilds: Stories from the CCC. Washington D.C.: American Forestry Association, 1934.
A collection of over thirty personal accounts from former enrollees, this book in taking a look at their thoughts and emotions. These CCC boys were of the first enrollees to take part in the government work program, and are able to give an exceptional look at how the camps turned their lives around—from unemployed, hungry victims of the depression to men who had a job, food, and shelter and meanwhile coming to the aid of their families and their country. Along with these personal accounts, the reader will find many pictures contained in the book—many of which are of enrollees themselves.
3. Civilian Conservation Corps Safety Division: Monthly Safety Bulletin, March 1937. Washington D.C.: United State Government Printing Office, 1937.
This is a very unique resource—a publication of the Safety Division of the Emergency Conservation Work Department, its self stated goal "to reduce camp accidents throughout the Corps". It contains lists, charts, graphs, and accident reports—all giving statistics of accidents that occurred among CCC enrollees. Such statistics would include: type of accident and how many occurred, fatalities, and specific incidents that occurred. This source could be used by anyone evaluating the levels of safety and well-being that were held in CCC camps: what types of activities were safe, and which were not.
4. Kylie, Harry R.. CCC Forestry. Washington D.C.: United States Government
Printing Office, 1937.
This book was intended for use by CCC enrollees and advisors to be a useful manual to the techniques and mechanics of forestry work. It is fully illustrated, containing photos, sketches, graphs and other useful illustrations in order to give better instruction to some of the tasks that would be undertook by an average forest worker. Combined practical knowledge along with lessons in the physical and natural workings of the forest, this book provides a unique look at the training of a forest worker in the CCC.
5. Office of the Director of the CCC. Civilian Conservation Corps Bibliography: A List of References on the United States Civilian Conservation Corps. Washington D.C.: United States Government Printing Office, 1939.
Although very out-dated, this is a compilation of sources that were available on the subject of the CCC at the time was still in existence. It was put together by the Office of the Director of the CCC, making it the official bibliography of the time. A very useful source on the historiography of the CCC, it contains listings of other bibliographies, reports, periodical articles, books, theses and dissertations, and government publications on the subject. Interesting fact: at this time (around 1939) there were many dissertations written on the subject- well over thirty that this bibliography lists.
6. United States Department of the Interior, Office of Education. Civilian Conservation Corps Camp Life Reader and Workbook. Washington D.C.: United States Government Printing Office, 1937.
The Camp Life Reader is an actual language skills work book that contains reading and writing lessons. It displays the level at which these boys were studying- probably equivalent to a second or third grader of today. Also, it uses the average life of an enrollee as the theme throughout its lessons, with titles of lessons being "Safety First", "The Canteen" and "The First Joke on Me", each trying to illustrate a small part of CCC life.
7. United States Federal Security Agency. Annual Report of the Director of the Civilian Conservation Corps: Fiscal Year Ended June 30, 1940. Washington D.C.: United States GPO, 1940.
This was one of a series of yearly publications by the director of the CCC, J.J. McEntee, along with this colleagues in this department. An extremely useful source to someone researching the CCC, it provides an overview of its administration, performance, and other relevant yearly facts and figures. It contains information on the financial, political, and even social aspects of the CCC. Being a bureaucratic report, it contains many statistics, ranging from incidence of disease and accident, to yearly totals for work completed in each state: such as the number of bridges, roads, forests, dams, etc. that had been built. This would be a good source to use to compare the productivity of the CCC from year to year—to find out the years that it was more valuable than others.
8. United States Federal Security Agency, The CCC at Work: A Story of 2,500,000 Young Men, Washington D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1941.
This booklet was one of a set of ten in a series that promoted and informed the public about the CCC. Perhaps more valuable for its wealth of pictures than its actual content, this is an example of a basic source of propaganda used to promote CCC. It is fully illustrated, containing many photographs of enrollees carrying out their daily routines.
9. United States Office of Education. A Manual for Instructions in Civilian Conservation Corps Camps. Washington D.C.: United States Government Printing Office, 1935.
This Manual was made as a guideline for teachers- what to teach, what approach to use in dealing with the boys, what their teaching responsibilities entail, etc. It prescribes certain teaching methods, giving examples on how to grade, test, and expose students to a variety of materials. It devotes a whole chapter to "teaching learners to think". It seems that while short-term conservation instruction was stressed, preparation for the boys future civilian lives as they would eventually leave the Corps was also an issue. This book is a good insight into the educational program of the CCC.
10. United States War Department. War Department Regulations: Relief of Unemployment, Civilian Conservation Corps. Washington D.C.: United States Government Printing Office, 1935.
This source is another bureaucratic publication, aimed at listing guidelines for procedure, administration, and organization within the CCC. It is meant to be a statement of regulations on each and every aspect of the CCC; designation of work duties, rules for food and clothing distribution, housing, education, disease control, medical service, etc. What can be gathered from this publication is a picture of what the U.S. War Department intended the CCC to be.
11. Wirth, Conrad Louis,. Civilian Conservation Corps Program of the United States Department of the Interior. Washington D.C.: United States Government Printing Office, 1945.
This is a report from Conrad Wirth, departmental representative on the Advisory Council of the CCC, to Harold Ickes, the Secretary of the Interior. It was published after the CCC had been abolished by Congress. Wirth divides his report into to sections: his "observations" and "summary and recommendations" to the Secretary. He felt that the CCC played an important role in doing much-needed work that benefited the unemployed as well as the country, and in his opinion a similar permanent government work institution should be implemented. It contains many appendices, with the congressional legislation that started the CCC, lists of persons who were in administration throughout the decade, as well as a collection of pictures of CCC enrollees.
III. Secondary Sources
12.Davis, Kenneth S.. FDR: The New Deal Years 1933- 1937. New York: Random House, 1979.
The CCC can be seen in the broader context of its place in the New Deal in this book. His chapter "The Opening Rush of the Hundred Days" shows Roosevelt’s push for emergency employment relief, and the urgency and expediency of which the CCC was passed through Congress. Davis likes to believe that the CCC was FDR’s pet program, that no other New Deal institution would receive more attention from him than the Corps. The "point of view" of the CCC is the book is made to be from FDR’s perspective- that the CCC not only had temporary benefits, but long-term ones as well.
13. Harper, Charles Price. The Administration of the Civilian Conservation Corps. Clarksburg, W. Va.: Clarksburg Publishing Company, 1939.
This is another take on the history of the CCC, focusing mainly on its administrative and policy aspects. The author evaluates the administration of the Corps, as well as the positive and negative consequences it held for the social and economic factors of the CCC: such as, the enrollees were employed and had food and shelter, but often experienced racial segregation of camps, and extended periods of absence from family members all as a result of administrative policy.
14. Leuchtenburg, William Edward. Franklin D. Roosevelt and the New Deal: 1932-1940. New York: Harper and Row, 1963.
This book is an analysis of FDR and the New Deal, not hesitating to criticize certain aspects of his policy and programs at times. It contains some information on the CCC, once again relating it to the rest of the New Deal. This author considers the CCC to be one of the most successful programs, saying that over half of the publicly planned forestry projects for the history of the United States were undertook by the Corps. This book a useful source in examining attitudes through the years among historians regarding the CCC.
15. Salmond, John A.. The Civilian Conservation Corps, 1933-1942: A New Deal Case Study. Durham, North Carolina: Duke University Press, 1967.
Seen to be the definitive source on the CCC, this book is chronologically organized to document the creation, implementation, life, and death of the Corps. Salmond calls it "the life story of a federal agency" and "the chronicle of a successful experiment"—he examines the CCC from a national standpoint, not focusing on any area or camp in particular. It is "a history of the Civilian Conservation Corps as seen… through Washington’s [D.C.] eyes", as Salmond said in his preface, and not aimed the researcher looking for a "grass-roots", localized perspective the CCC. (Salmond, v-vi)
16. Schlesinger, Arthur M.. The Age of Roosevelt: The Politics of Upheaval. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1960.
A much different context of the CCC during the New Deal time period, Schlesinger mentions the CCC briefly in his discussion of a communist front in the United States. It was his opinion that the CCC boys were left unaffected by Communist suasion, and were in fact, something that stood in contrast to these emerging groups. CCC camps were seen as too militaristic by such Communist-linked American groups such as the "American League against War and Fascism".
17. Sitkoff, Harvard, ed. Fifty Years Later: The New Deal Evaluated. Philadelphia:
Temple University Press, 1985.
This is a collection of essays, each evaluating an aspect of the New Deal from a stance that fifty years had now elapsed. It can be used as a source of knowledge on the differing interpretations of this time period that are now taking place among historians. Several of these articles mention the CCC, usually in the broader context of the entire New Deal.
IV. Scholarly Journal Articles
18. Garraty, John A. "The New Deal, National Socialism, and the Great Depression." The American Historical Review. Vol. 78, no. 4 (Oct., 1973), pp. 907- 944.
In this thought-provoking article, Garraty examined the parallels between the relief programs of Franklin D. Roosevelt and Adolf Hitler following the Great Depression. In one such comparison, he proposed that the U.S. Civilian Conservation Corps was in many ways similar to Nazi work camps that were set up in Germany under Hitler’s directive. Many of these two institutions’ intentions were the same—both focused on forestry and countryside improvement programs, both were semi-militant, both emphasized physical fitness- Garraty claimed. Both Roosevelt and Hitler praised these programs as a means to keep the young people off the streets, and those where were down and out a new lease on life. This article provides insight into a time when the country was perhaps closest to socialism.
19. Gaus, John M. "Public Administration in the United States in 1933." The American Political Science Review. Vol. 28, no. 3 (Jun., 1934), pp. 443-456.
This article briefly discussed the way in which the U.S. government exercised its power to create the CCC, as well as to enact other New Deal relief programs. The authors intent was to tell which New Deal programs were based on previous government programs, which ones were completely new, and which were simply a means of transition to a later, more permanent institution. In regards to the CCC, it gives a short description of its creation and implementation. This could also be used as a primary source, as it was written one year after the creation of the CCC.
20. Gower, Calvin W. "The Struggle of Blacks for Leadership Positions in the Civilian Conservation Corps: 1933-1942." Journal of Negro History. Vol. 61, no. 2 (Apr., 1976), pp. 123-135.
This article deals with an issue of controversy that was faced by the CCC and its administration—the issue of racial segregation in CCC camps. Not only were African-American enrollees placed into segregated camps, they were also almost exclusively under the command of a white camp commander, along with other white superior officers, chaplains, and medical personnel. This was a concern for many black enrollees—especially those who thought that racial segregation did not comply with the laws that originally provided for the institution of the Corps—one saying that there should be no discrimination according to "race, color, or creed". This was a pressing issue that demanded the attention of the CCC administration throughout its existence, and is a striking historical example of national policy that was bent and twisted to provide for de facto racial segregation.
21. Griffith, Robert K. Jr. "Quality not Quantity: The Volunteer Army During the Depression." Military Affairs. Vol. 43, no. 4 (Dec.,1979), pp. 171-177.
This article provides a look at the relationship between the CCC and the United States Army during the depression. Often Army officers would be involved in the initial organization processes of CCC camps, with some officers staying over extended periods to fulfill the minimum amount of Army personnel required for each camp. This is not the only way the CCC took over some of the Army’s manpower—it also stood as great competition for new enlistment prospects. The CCC offered better pay than enlisting as an Army private, and became a growing concern for top ranking Army officials as their enlistment numbers began to decline.
22. Johnson, Charles. "The Army, the Negro, and the Civilian Conservation Corps: 1933-1942." Military Affairs. Vol. 36, no.3 (Oct., 1972), pp. 82-88.
This is another article about the controversial racial segregation aspect of the CCC—whether or not to employ Americans in this new government program. It discussed in length the amendment made to the program which called for no discrimination on the basis of race in the process of enrolling men to the CCC. This amendment was heavily debated, and continued to be so throughout the existence of the CCC.
23. Salmond, John A. "The Civilian Conservation Corps and the Negro." Journal of American History. Vol. 52, no. 1 (Jun., 1965), pp. 75-88.
During the depression, as jobs became scarce, white men in their desperation began filling the jobs that were considered to be only fit for "Negroes", in effect making the economic situation of African Americans even more desperate as they were being replaced by whites. Salmond feels that the African American needed aid the most during this time, and suffered discrimination when trying to better their situation with programs such as the CCC. This is yet another article about discrimination and segregation experienced by blacks in the CCC.
24. Wright, Marian Thompson. "Negro Youth and the Federal Emergency
Programs: CCC and NYA." Journal of Negro Education. Vol.9, no. 3 (Jul.,
1940), pp. 397-407.
This article was written by a contemporary of the CCC, and also could be considered a primary source because of this time proximity. This is yet another look at the Corps—its educational goals and contributions, especially relating to African Americans, are stressed in this article. The author gives background to these proposed educational goals—to teach the illiterate to read, and to give "backward" enrollees a firm foundation in the basics of every education, the "three R’s". As a result of this education, CCC officials felt further educational opportunity could unfold for the boys. During the span of seven years in the CCC, 15,000 otherwise illiterate African American boys were taught to read, an accomplishment praised by the author.
V. World Wide Web Resources
25. "Civilian Conservation Corps Alumni." <
(2 December 2000).
This is the official website for the National Association of Civilian Conservation Corps Alumni (NACCCA). It offers several options for research, with a section on the history of the CCC, a bibliography of resources on the CCC and the New Deal, information for obtaining government records and reports related to the CCC, and several valuable links to sites with information to offer about the Corps. Also, it provides the mailing address to get a hold of further information at the NACCCA headquarters. Overall, this would be a good resource for someone looking to get in touch with former CCC enrollees; of value especially to the researcher interested in examining the CCC from the view point of the individual enrollees.
26. Justin, John. "James F. Justin Civilian Conservation Corps Museum"
<http://members.aol.com/famjustin/ccchis.html> (2 December 2000).
This site is valuable to any researcher looking for documents, photographs, biographies, government records, books, museum exhibits, alumni groups, folklore, etc. related to the CCC—a virtual treasury of primary sources. It also contains a brief history of the CCC, its importance on the site pales in comparison to the abundance of other sources that one may find here. It also gives the user an option to interact with others who are interested in the CCC, and offers a "Questions and Answers" section in which one may inquire about further information regarding the Corps.
27. "National Archives and Records Administration." <http://www.nara.gov>
(2 December 2000).
This is the official site for the National Archives and Records Administration. It offers a valuable search feature, allowing the researcher to locate and view documents, photographs, government records, and more. When "civilian conservation corps" is entered as a keyword, the search results turn up records, documents and photographs related to many CCC projects throughout the United States. From these, the researcher can find many valuable primary sources.
28. "The New Deal Network." <http://newdeal.feri.org> (2 December 2000).
The New Deal Network contains a huge archive of photos, documents, links, as well as many interactive feature stories about topics of the Depression and the New Deal. It contains an interesting feature on a real enrollee of the CCC. As it goes page to page, each contains stories of Mr. Dominick Gadamowitz’s experiences in the CCC, as well as pictures related to each part of his story. This seems like a very useful and interesting online resource for anyone researching this time period with its wealth of primary sources, photographs, documents, and feature articles.
29. "H-Net Discussion Group: H-US 1918-45." <http://www2.h-net.msu.edu/~us191845/>
(2 December 2000).
This is a useful discussion group with entries related to topics of this time period—1918-1945. Along with discussion boards, it also includes a list of resources related to this time period. For instance, a search of these discussion boards with the keyword "civilian conservation corps" turns up several entries—these being posted by enthusiasts and historians alike. Some deal with peoples recommendations on useful sources on the CCC, others deal with controversial topics like racism in the Corps, and still others out information or input on projects or research they are doing on this topic.
VI. Other Sources
30. Simon, Bryant. "New Men in Body and Soul: The Civilian Conservation Corps and the Transformation of Male Bodies and the Body Politic," in Gender and the Southern Body Politic, ed. Nancy Bercaw. Jackson: University Press of Mississippi, 2000, pp.131-160.
This article is a selection from Gender and the Southern Body Politic—a book concerned with the emerging ideas about gender and how it related to the politics of the South. In this chapter, the author mainly argues that the U.S. government created images and propaganda for the CCC—ones of strong, virile (white) young men forging their way to the future. Simon concludes that the government not only used this program as a relief operation, but to "build a nation of men who were strong, fit, and white out of a hodgepodge of urban, ethnic, hollow-chested" down and out boys. This was an attempt, according to Simon, to "physically construct middleclass manhood" out of this class of poor, working boys. (xvii) In other words, the male gender was key in this process brought on by the CCC of re-establishing a national identity in this time of crisis and disunity.
31. Lacy, Leslie Alexander. The Soil Soldiers: The Civilian Conservation Corps in the Great Depression. Radnor, Pennsylvania: Chilton Book Company, 1976.
This is yet another book documenting the many aspects of the CCC—from the administrative to the racial to the personal aspects experienced by those involved. While not scholarly in the sense that it contains no footnotes or endnotes, this book is a valuable resource to the researcher of this topic. It is chronological and topical in a sense that it traces the life of the CCC. While addressing topics such as "A Typical Day in a CCC Camp", it also includes personal stories of men who were in the CCC.
32. Paige, John C. The Civilian Conservation Corps and the National Park Service, 1933- 1942: An Administrative History. National Park Service, 1985.
This is a publication of the National Park Service—a look at the administrative history of the CCC. In this respect, the reader gets little of the focus on individuals as seen in Soil Soldiers. It highlights the main events of the CCC’s history, its role in the National Park Service, and its contributions to various conservation projects nationwide, and the various aspects of its administration—its problems, triumphs, and failures. It contains an extensive bibliography of sources relating to the CCC, making its value to the researcher increase.
33. Hill, Edwin G. In the Shadow of the Mountain: The Spirit of the CCC. Pullman, WA: Washington State University, 1990.
A fairly recent addition to literature on the CCC, it covers a variety of material. Part one is an autobiography of one man’s involvement in the Corps program—the hard times he faced during the depression, his eventual enrollment in the CCC, and the projects he was involved in during his tenure as a CCC boy. The second part of the book tells the bigger story of the CCC—tales of its accomplishments, as well as other accounts given later by CCC veterans. It is not scholarly, but again, provides another valuable personal account.
34. Holland, Kenneth and Frank Ernest Hill. Youth in the CCC. American Council on Education, 1942.
This book could have been included in the primary sources category, being prepared by the American Youth Commission at the time of the CCC. Its aim is to "supply information and to give constructive criticism with respect to the… Civilian Conservation Corps". The book is a result of a 5 year study on the part of the American Youth commission, to "appraise" the value of the CCC in relation to the betterment and advancement of American youth in that the time of hardship. Though the nature of the book is a case study, the researcher may gain much valuable information from its descriptions of enrollment, adjustment, work, play, and educational opportunities of CCC enrollees.