Executive Order 6101, which established the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC)*, was signed on April 5, 1933 by President Franklin D. Roosevelt. It was signed just one month into Roosevelt’s presidency, making the CCC one of the earliest New Deal programs. The program was by no means perfect and was met with some criticism. However, the CCC quickly proved to be a popular program, especially among those that benefited – specifically unmarried, unemployed men between the ages of 18 and 25 (that age range would later be expanded to 17 through 28), as well as their families. They earned $30 a month, of which they were required to send $25 home to their families.
According to John Salmond, author of The Civilian Conservation Corps, 1933-1942: A New Deal Case Study, “during its life span of nine years more than 2.5 million young Americans passed through the Civilian Conservation Corps.” Other estimates put the number of enrollees closer to 3 million. Of those millions, approximately 250,000 were African American and 80,000 were Native American.**
Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) operations depended upon the administrative support of five federal agencies: the Department of Labor responsible for CCC recruiting; the Veterans Administration responsible for selecting veterans for CCC programs; the War Department responsible for numerous needs of CCC trainees such as physical conditioning, medical care, food, clothing, and housing; and the Departments of Agriculture and Interior responsible for the planning and supervision of work projects.
CCC companies completed projects in conjunction with state and federal agencies, including but not limited to: the National Park Service, the Forest Service, the Soil Conservation Service, the Tennessee Valley Authority, the United States Army, the Bureau of Indian Affairs, the Bureau of Reclamation, as well as many local and state parks and forests.
The organizational structure of the CCC, coupled with the fact that the CCC worked with various agencies, means that CCC photographs are not in a centralized location. In fact, photographs documenting CCC activities and companies are scattered throughout the United States and are housed within the collections of state libraries and archives, university libraries and archives, and within the collections of local historical societies. In terms of federal records, CCC photographs at the National Archives can be found interfiled among textual records, at the FDR Presidential Library, and within the collection of the Still Picture Branch.
At the National Archives, Record Group 35 is where you will locate Records of the Civilian Conservation Corps, 1933 – 1953. However, in terms of CCC photographs in the Still Picture Branch, we’ve noted that CCC images can be found within approximately 15 different record groups, covering approximately 50 different series.
To learn more about CCC photographs held in the Still Picture Branch, researchers may wish to view a session from the 2018 Genealogy Fair titled How to Search for Photographs that Document CCC Camps & Activities. This session aims to be an overview of how to navigate CCC records held by the Still Picture branch. Additionally, during the presentation researchers are provided with a list of Still Picture series that contain CCC photographs, as well as information as to what type of research they should conduct prior to beginning their search for CCC imagery.
* The Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) was originally known as the Emergency Conservation Work (ECW) program.
**Eleanor Roosevelt setup a women’s counterpart to the CCC, known as SheSheShe Camps, which employed approximately 8,500 women.
All photographs included in this blog post are held by the NARA Still Picture Branch. There are no known copyright restrictions on the images and as such, they may be used freely.
PUBLICATION OF PHOTOGRAPHS FURNISHED BY THE NATIONAL ARCHIVES STILL PICTURE BRANCH-RDSS
Generally, copies of photographic records held by the National Archives may be published without special permission or additional fees. The National Archives does not grant exclusive or non-exclusive publication privileges. Copies of Federal records, as part of the public domain, are equally available to all. A small percentage of photographs in our holdings are or may be subject to copyright restrictions. The National Archives does not confirm the copyright status of photographs but will provide any information known about said status. It is the user’s responsibility to obtain all necessary clearances. Any use of these items is made at the researcher’s or purchaser’s own risk.
Proper credit lines are encouraged in the interest of good documentation. They also help inform the public about government photographic resources that are available.
*Because so many of our requests for information cite credits and captions that appear in published works, the inclusion of a photo number in hard copy and electronic publications is of great assistance to both us and the public.
Examples of preferred credit lines are as follows:
National Archives photo no. 80-G-32500
Credit National Archives (photo no. 306-NT-186000)
Courtesy National Archives, photo no. 26-G-3422
National Archives (111-SC-202199)
If using a large number of our images, the National Archives will appreciate receiving copies of publications that contain our photographs. Such copies can be sent to the Still Picture Branch or the Library, National Archives and Records Administration.