The Civilian Conservation Corps in Alabama, 1933-1942: A Great and Lasting Good

Article excerpt

The Civilian Conservation Corps in Alabama, 1933-1942: A Great and Lasting Good. ROBERT PASQUILL JR. University of Alabama Press, Tuscaloosa, 2008. xiii, 242 pp. + 1 CD-ROM. $22.95 (paper), ISBN: 0-81735495-6.

The Civilian Conservation Corps in Alabama, 1933-1942 is a compilation of historical facts and anecdotes about the diverse work projects implemented by the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) in Alabama from its inception in 1933 until its termination in 1942 shortly after the United States entered World War II. In Chapter 1, Robert Pasquill outlines the many government programs instituted to alleviate unemployment woes at the onset of the Great Depression. Chapter 2 gives a detailed description of the CCCs inception and its purpose. An account of CCC activities in Alabama is organized into the next five chapters according to which federal, state, or private agency each camp was assigned. The camps worked with the U.S. Forest Service, Soil Conservation Service, Tennessee Valley Authority, Alabama State Parks, Private Forest Projects, State Forest Projects, U.S. Army, and Fish and Wildlife Service. The type of agency determined the projects camps performed. These chapters are further organized into subsections detailing a history of each camp and its respective companies while in residence.

Appendix A provides a listing of the camps organized by which group they worked for and includes location, resident companies, and establishment dates. Appendix B outlines how many camps each group had within each enlistment period. Together these appendices are helpful additions in following camp chronology and company movement. Appendix C lists every camp newspaper and publication dates, many of which were mined for the information within the text of the book. Appendix D is included as a CD in the back of the book and contains transcripts of Pasquill's interviews with several individuals who participated in the program. The transcripts are an excellent addition to this work for those interested in oral histories.

Pasquill draws attention to aspects of this public program that went beyond a mere paycheck for those on relief in relating the general atmosphere of human improvement in the camps. The aid systems operating in the camps provided a generally malnourished population a healthier lifestyle during their stay and, at times, access to previously unavailable services such as healthcare and dentistry. The educational opportunities within these camps offered thousands of illiterate or undereducated Americans the chance to improve themselves through academic schooling and vocational training while simultaneously earning a living. Some camps provided an incredibly varied set of classes to choose from based on their particular resources, while others had periods where no classes were offered. Variations among the camps are explored as Pasquill visits each one in turn. The program was a means of educational advancement on a national scale. Not only did enrollees have educational opportunities, but the local citizenry were informed on methods of how to treat their surroundings for the benefit of the environment and the entire nation.

The author exposes the militaristic side-effects of life in the CCC camps. The War Department was deemed best suited to organize these camps when the program was created, and that organizational method led unintentionally to a militaristic lifestyle in the camps. This aspect of CCC life was such an issue that program leaders felt the need to assure enrollees and their families that these men were not being trained for military service. By convenient coincidence, the enrollees would be ready at a moment's notice should they have to enter into service, which many soon would with the onset of World War ? …


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