• "Farm Security Administration: farmers whose topsoil blew away joined the sod caravans of ‘Okies’ on Route 66 to California” ca. 1935. Courtesy of the National Archives and Records Administration.

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    Farm Security Administration: farmers whose topsoil blew away joined the sod caravans of "Okies" on Route 66 to California
    • Creator
    • Roosevelt, Franklin D. (Franklin Delano), 1882-1945.
    • Rights
    • Unrestricted
    • Partner
    • National Archives and Records Administration
    • Contributing Institution
    • Franklin D. Roosevelt Library

  • "Franklin D. Roosevelt in Warm Springs, Georgia," 1932. Courtesy of the National Archives and Records Administration.

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    Franklin D. Roosevelt at Warm Springs
    • Creator
    • Roosevelt, Franklin D. (Franklin Delano), 1882-1945.
    • Rights
    • Unrestricted
    • Partner
    • National Archives and Records Administration
    • Contributing Institution
    • Franklin D. Roosevelt Library

  • "Soil Erosion" ca. 1935. Courtesy of the National Archives and Records Administration.

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    Soil Erosion
    • Creator
    • Roosevelt, Franklin D. (Franklin Delano), 1882-1945.
    • Rights
    • Unrestricted
    • Partner
    • National Archives and Records Administration
    • Contributing Institution
    • Franklin D. Roosevelt Library

  • "That Conquering Cooperative Spirit!" A political cartoon showing the public’s appreciation for the Hoover administration’s relief efforts, 1933. Courtesy of the National Archives and Records Administration.

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    That Conquering Cooperative Spirit!
    • Creator
    • U.S. Senate. Office of Senate Curator. ?-9999.
    • Description
    • The Great Depression was at its worst, with unemployment at its peak. Millions of families lacked food. Cartoonist Clifford Berryman tries to show that even the small relief efforts of the Hoover administration were paying off. Berryman's Uncle Sam s... more
      The Great Depression was at its worst, with unemployment at its peak. Millions of families lacked food. Cartoonist Clifford Berryman tries to show that even the small relief efforts of the Hoover administration were paying off. Berryman's Uncle Sam smiles and pats John Q. Public on the shoulder as he provides a few small coins. In Berryman's view the public is highly grateful for even this token. less
    • Rights
    • Unrestricted
    • Partner
    • National Archives and Records Administration
    • Contributing Institution
    • Center for Legislative Archives

CCC Beginnings

During the Dust Bowl in the 1930s, droughts in combination with farming practices that encouraged erosion created homelessness and environmental devastation. Because they were unable to grow and harvest crops, farming families were forced to leave their homes, only to find few job prospects during the Great Depression. The severe economic and environmental consequences of erosion made the need for conservation in the 1930s even more important.

Franklin Roosevelt previously worked on reforestation programs on a small scale at his family’s estate in Hyde Park, New York and as governor of New York. In this role, he supported reforestation and giving unemployed men temporary jobs to plant trees and work on conservation programs for the state. When Roosevelt accepted the Democratic nomination for president, he proclaimed: “We know that a very hopeful and immediate means of relief, both for the unemployed and for agriculture, will come from a wide plan of the converting of many millions of acres of marginal and unused land into timber land through reforestation.”

Similar programs using unemployed men for work planting trees and other conservation projects took place in other states in the early 1930s. In the spring of 1933, Roosevelt requested that the Departments of War, the Interior, Agriculture, and Labor join forces to develop a plan for unemployment relief through the creation of a civilian conservation corps, which would work on conservation projects. This initiative would coordinate programs on a national level that had previously operated within individual states.