Have you explored the CCC records for your ancestors? The Civilian Conservation Corps are a valuable resource to your genealogy research!
The Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) was a public relief corps dating from 1933-1942. Part of the New Deal by President Roosevelt, this program was specifically for unmarried and unemployed men. The men of the CCC worked to build roads, parks and improve other lands and natural resources.
Organized into camps throughout the country that ran similar to the military, the records they kept include admission, discharge and service records.
James Lester Howard of Lee County, North Carolina was the perfect CCC candidate!
In 1933, he was 18 years old, unmarried and unemployed. Having lost his mother at a young age and having a father who worked construction away from home, Lester and his siblings moved from relative to relative over their childhood years.
Lester joined the CCC after learning about the program from a local man. The CCC provided a way for Lester to work and help support his siblings as well. In return for working in the CCC, Lester received $30.
Of the $30, he was required to send $25 back to a designated person in the family for support of the family and he kept $5 for himself. The $25 was sent to his aunt who was caring for his younger siblings. With his $5, Lester felt “rich” for the first time. He could go to a movie and get a meal in town. Both were luxuries rarely if ever available to him at home.
Types of Information Found in CCC Records
Records were kept on each man who joined the CCC. These records can provide a surprising amount of information on your ancestor. Information such as:
- Location of your ancestor in time and place
- A birth place and birth date
- A physical description – This is always a plus, especially if no photo can be found.
- Medical history including inoculations
- If naturalized, when and where
- Level of education
- Family makeup and designation of who was to receive monthly allotment of $25 (or designated amount)
- Service in the CCC – where and when they served. These can be quite detailed.
- A look into their character (letters of recommendation)
- Their future address upon discharge. Let’s put our ancestors on the map!
An Example of A CCC Record
Below are the discharge papers for James Lester Howard. (Lester was my grandfather.) What can be learned about Lester from these?
- He joined the CCC on 3 Nov 1933 at Fort Bragg in NC. [Time and place]
- He was born in Sanord, North Carolina and was 18 in Nov 1933. [This provides a place of birth and a birth year of 1915.]
- He was a cook. [Occupation.]
- He was 5′ 6 1/2″ tall with brown hair, brown eyes and a ruddy complexion. [Physical description]
- Dates and locations of camps where Lester worked. [Occupation and place and time]
- Remarks: “He performed his duties as a cook in a very satisfactory manner.” [Character]
- He was innoculated against typhoid and was immune to smallpox. [Medical history]
- Future address of Sanford. [Future address]
- Date of discharge: 13 June 1937.
Where to Find CCC Records
Now where does a researcher look for CCC records to use in research?
Start by looking in your ancestor’s personal records and papers. I found these in among my grandfather’s papers that came to me when I started researching the family history.
Apply to National Archives (NARA) for a copy of your ancestor’s CCC records. Be prepared to be patient. Copies can be pricey and take weeks/months to arrive.
The “Happy Days” newspaper on Ancestry.com was the CCC’s own newspaper and provides a glimpse into the life of those serving in the CCC.
Want to learn more about the CCC and the role it played in your ancestors’ lives? Several years ago, PBS aired a lauded documentary on the CCC camps. Check it out.