Structure and Administration

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"Franklin D. Roosevelt, Henry Wallace, and Robert Fechner in the Shenandoah Valley, Virginia," 1933. Courtesy of the National Archives and Records Administration.

Developing a program to put 250,000 men to work was a complex organizational challenge. The bill authorizing the CCC divided the country into nine different areas. Enrollees were initially supposed to be unmarried men between the ages of eighteen and twenty-three, although this requirement would change over time.

Different divisions of the Franklin D. Roosevelt’s administration were charged with authority for aspects of the CCC work. Robert Fechner, a union man who had previously served as a labor advisor to Roosevelt, was selected to direct the CCC. An administrative council for the CCC was created with delegates appointed by the Secretaries of War, Labor, Interior, and Agriculture. The Army dealt with logistics such as transportation and administration of the camps for the young men, including dealing with discipline issues. Men who enrolled agreed to work for six months. Administrative work for the CCC at the federal level involved frequent disagreements between departments, for example between the Forest Service and the Army.

Criticism of the new program came from a variety of organizations. Representatives of the labor movement were concerned about the low wages for the CCC men. There was strong anti-military sentiment at the time, so the involvement of the Army was also viewed with suspicion by some. On the whole though, most people were supportive of the idea of the CCC, and the legislation authorizing the program was swiftly passed.