Civilian Conservation Corps Camp Newspapers
Background and History of the C.C.C.
The Civilian Conservation Corps (C.C.C.) began in 1933 as part of President Roosevelt's New Deal, and ran until 1942. It was an organization created to give young men (mostly between 17 and 25 years old) a chance for an income and productive work when jobs were scarce. Men involved in the camps enlisted for 6-month intervals and were able to serve up to 2 years. At the camps the young men, and in some cases WWI veterans, were provided three meals a day and a place to sleep. An staff of army officers and educational advisers ran the camp. The pay rate was $30 a month, with $25 of that sent home to families and dependents of the enlisted men.
Each "company" usually consisted of 150-200 men. Projects and tasks varied. They focused mainly on forest preservation and the conservation of America's natural resources. Efforts at reforestation earned the nickname "Roosevelt's Forest Army." Other projects included fire and flood prevention and disaster aid, road building, trail building, bridge and dam building, historical restoration, and many construction projects that have had a lasting effect on state parks around the country. Camps also focused on the schooling and self-improvement of their young men by providing off-duty classes. Subjects included typing, first aid, foreman training, journalism, and government. Because of this training, some enlisted men were able to find employment and resigned to take other jobs. Toward the end of the C.C.C., some companies also worked on national defense projects. Many former enrollees give the C.C.C. credit for providing them with the self-reliance, discipline, and physical strength they needed on a daily basis during World War II.
Enrollees Publish Newspapers
The camaraderie of the enlisted men was a big part of daily life in the Civilian Conservation Corps. Companies often started small group newspapers. Some even set up "exchange" programs with other companies, and traded their newspaper with other camps to keep up with the activities of fellow C.C.C. groups. The camaraderie and camp atmosphere are visible in these relatively unknown publications. Camp newspapers provide valuable insight into history on a local and national level, as well as a more personal look at the young men who made such lasting contributions through their work with the C.C.C.
C.C.C. camp newspapers used enlisted men as writers, editors, artists, and illustrators. They provided a wide variety of information to their readers. Articles focused on job hunting, and leisure activities including ping-pong, cards, radio, boxing, and reading. Announcements for off-duty workshops were posted to instruct enrollees in photography, woodworking, gardening, and similar activities. Advertisements for group dances and social functions along with jokes and anecdotes about camp life are also common finds.
Sometimes a paper was created for a 6-month period as a group of enlistees served its time together. At the end of that time, the next incoming group would choose a new title and establish a new camp paper. This explains why the same company would often have several different consecutive camp titles. Other papers kept the same title throughout different groups of enlistees. The Library of Virginia has recently acquired a sizable collection of Virginia's C.C.C. newspapers in hard copy, microfilm, and microfiche. The Virginia Newspaper Project would like to invite all researchers, historians, and interested parties to take advantage of this collection