The CCC and the CWA

Franklin D. Roosevelt’s “new deal” established a variety of programs, sometimes referred to as “Alphabet Agencies” with the intent of providing Americans beleaguered by the Great Depression with relief. Two programs created in 1933 which greatly impacted the lives of Iowans were the CCC – Civilian Conservation Corps and the CWA – Civil Works Administration.

The CWA – Civil Works Administration – paid an average of $15 a week and those employed worked mainly in construction jobs such as repairing schools, laying sewer pipes, and building roads. The duration of this program was limited to the winter and spring of 1933 – 1934. Scott County, Iowa benefited immensely from the works of the CWA and its off-shoot, the CWS – Civil Works Service. These works are documented in the Illustrated record of C.W.A. Projects, Scott County, Iowa, 1933-1934 (call number SC 352.7 Ill) with photographs by H. E. Dissette. Many of these images are posted on the Upper Mississippi Valley Digital Image Archive. Use the search term “civil works administration” to view them, or click here.

The CCC took unmarried men aged 18 – 25 from relief rolls and sent them into the woods and fields to plant trees, build parks, roads, and fight soil erosion on federal lands. Those employed earned $30 a month and left an environmental legacy throughout the entire United States, particularly Iowa. Did you know that Backbone State Park (located about 125 miles northwest of Davenport near Manchester, IA) has a museum about CCC camp life? Iowa’s Department of Natural Resources also has a terrific website with images and oral history interview transcriptions of former Iowa CCC members.

Don’t miss the opportunity to attend the Tuesday, June 24, 2008 music and storytelling program by Bill Jamerson about the Dollar a Day Boys of the CCC at our Main Street library location at 10 a.m. And be sure to stop by the Richardson-Sloane Special Collections Center to see our display on these New Deal “Alphabet Agencies”!

(posted by Karen)

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