Thursday, January 12, 2017

Civilian Conservation Corps

My dad used to tell me that when he graduated from high school, there were no jobs because of the Great Depression so he continued to attend school. He would always comment that he was the only person he knew who had had five  years of high school Latin.

After that extra year, there were still no jobs so he enrolled in the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC), one of President Franklin Roosevelt's New Deal programs.  Originally intended for unmarried, unemployed men between the ages of 18 and 25, the requirements were later expanded. The CCC operated from 1933 - 1942. At that time, my father was just days shy of being 20 years old, had never been employed and I am sure had never been away from home.

The CCC was responsible for many projects including building roads, national and state parks, 

Just a few weeks ago I learned that records for enrollees in the CCC could be obtained from the National Archives in St. Louis.  Until then, I had no idea these records existed. It didn't take long for me to send in the Request for Information

Within two weeks I received  the reply that my dad had a file and I could receive it after paying $25.  Although there were only five pages, there was new information. I discovered he enrolled on January 1, 1934 and was assigned to Camp Hicks in Herod, Illinois.  His pay was $30 a month with $25 being sent to his widowed mother, Beatrice Joyce. Camp Hicks  was established in December 1933 and was new when he enrolled.  

The file also contained the results of a physical exam. He was 71 1/2 inches tall, weighed 155 pounds and his eyesight and hearing were good. He was considered in good health.

Food, clothing and lodging were provided for all enrollees, but the living conditions at Camp Hicks were primitive.  Kay Rippelmeyer, the author of The Civilian Conservation Corps in Southern Illinois 1933-1942, states the following: "Sanitary conditions at Camp Hicks were poor even four months after men had moved into the camp. There was scarcely enough water for bathing, and drinking water had to be hauled in ... In addition, the men's shoes were in need of repair, and many had none to fit..." [1] Not the best of circumstances for these young men, especially while working outside.

CCC camps were located in many small towns of every state, including western Kentucky. A list of camps can be found on the Civilian Conservation Corps Legacy website. The CCC was one of the government's most popular programs and was a life saver for many families during the Depression.

Among the small towns with CCC camps were Sebree (Camp Spring Dale), Morganfield (Camp Morgan), Cadiz (Camp Trigg), Princeton, Dixon (Camp Hall), Henderson (Camp Cromwell), Marion, Dawson Springs (Camp Alexander) and Madisonville.

The record files may seem a little pricey at $25 for five pages or less or $70 for six pages or more, but you won't know if they are worth the price until you order them. 

[1]  Kay Rippelmeyer. The Civilian Conservation Corps in Southern Illinois 1933-1942, (Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press, 2015)175.  

Published 12 January 2017, Western Kentucky Genealogy Blog,

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