Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Researching CCC Service in Indiana

Researching a family member who served in the CCC is similar to researching someone who served in the military. Records are housed at the National Archives (NARA), and to access them, you must write to NARA requesting a copy. Diane L. Richard at Archives.com does a great job explaining this process in her article, Civilian Conservation Corps: Records From The Great Depression Era.

Once you have the service records, you can begin researching the more personal side of a service-member's life in the CCC. Each Company published a newsletter, and the Indiana State Library holds copies of many of them. If you can find out which Company your family member served in, you may be able to find a mention of him in one of these newsletters.

For more information about daily life in the CCC, Florida's Broward County has a wonderful digitized collection of CCC materials, including books, pamphlets, correspondence, newsletters, menus, postcards, photographs, 3-D artifacts like embroidered patches and hats, and other materials.

You'll also find a photo collection of CCC Company 517, the largest and longest lasting African American Company, at the Indiana Historical Society. The IHS collection guide gives some interesting details about this Company:
"The Company was established in 1934 and consisted of about 250 men. Men joining at that time went to Fort Knox, Kentucky, for training for thirty days; afterwards the company was stationed in Camp S-54, eleven miles southwest of Corydon, Indiana. There CCC members worked on projects in the Harrison-Crawford State Forest in what is now Wyandotte Woods State Recreation Area.

Francis Crowdus was a member of Company 517 in Corydon. He recalled that there was a lot of resistance by whites to all-black camps, but that many farmers in southern Indiana were happy to have their help. Crowdus said that in the CCC “there was a sense of high expectation. We worked hard and were expected to do it right. We used our muscles…we built barracks, dams, fought forest fires, reclaimed streams, and planted forests. Even though the CCC was one of President Roosevelt’s job programs, I never felt I was on welfare.”

Company 517 moved to South Bend, Indiana, in 1937, and to Portland, Indiana, in 1939. The work done by this group included work in the limestone and sandstone quarries, construction of a shelter house and manager’s quarters, tree planting, and rescue operations in the flood of 1937. During leisure time the men took trips to town, held boxing and softball competitions, and enjoyed music. Company 517 was disbanded in 1941."
To learn more about the CCC and the men who served, please check out our Civilian Conservation Corps board on Pinterest for all kinds of books and websites about the CCC. And if you have a story to share, please contact us!

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Post written by Lori Osting

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