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Enrollee records for the CCC

So yesterday the U.S. National Archives features a look at the Civilian Conservation Corps…

In color!

Great photos of the Dalton Wells Camp DG-32, located about 15 miles northwest of Moab, Utah, and due west of where Arches National Park is today — and a good explanation by Cody White, Archivist at the National Archives at Denver, of how these color photos came to exist.1

cccNow The Legal Genealogist couldn’t look at those images without thinking, first and foremost, of the law that served as the foundation for the Civilian Conservation Corps, the CCC as it was known.

The Emergency Conservation Work (EWC) Act2 was one of the New Deal initiatives championed by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt in an emergency session of the Congress in March 1933. Remember: FDR only took office on March 4, 1933.3 The bill was introduced on March 27th, passed both the House and the Senate, and was signed on March 31st, and the first enrollee was inducted on the 7th of April.4

The statute was “for the purpose of relieving the acute condition of widespread distress and unemployment now existing in the United States, and in order to provide for the restoration of the country’s depleted natural resources and the advancement of an orderly program of useful public works.”5 And hundreds of thousands of young men flocked to the program.

Including one Billy Rex Cottrell. My mother’s oldest brother.

We knew that Billy had been due to graduate from high school in Midland, Texas, where the family was living, in 1939.6 And we knew he’d joined the Navy in 1940.7 But he wasn’t living at home for the 1940 census.8 So where was he?

In the CCC.

Turns out he’d signed up in October of 1938, serving at Littlefield, Texas, doing common labor, then as assistant leader, then as a truck driver, until leaving the CCC some 10 days before he joined the Navy.9

His records from his time in the CCC are wonderful. They confirm that he was born 8 November 1919 in Hollister, Oklahoma. He was 5’10” tall, weighed 150, had grey eyes and light brown hair. His parents were both living and he had five brothers and four sisters. He’d finished 11th grade and left school just before joining the CCC.10

He joined, he said, because he couldn’t attend school at home and wanted vocational training. His work experience was as a station attendant, assistant mechanic, body man and painter’s helper for gas stations and car dealers in the Midland area. Of his $30 a month salary, $22.00 was going home to his mother, my grandmother, Opal Cottrell.11

Cool stuff, huh? And the sheer number of families who had someone in the CCC — to us as researchers today a brother, a cousin, father, uncle, grandfather — is staggering.

So… how do we get the records?

It’s actually easy. There’s a form online, NA Form 14136, Request for CCC Personnel Records, that we fill out with as much information about the person as we have, including any and all of the following that we have:

• Full name used at the time of service (provide exact spelling and include the middle name if known); nicknames (if known)

• Social Security Number (if known)

• Date of birth

• Place of birth

• Home address (city and state) at time of service

• Parents’ name

• Dates of service

• CCC Company numbers

• Location of CCC camp(s) (city and state)

• Title(s) of position(s) held

It isn’t critical that we have all that data — I got Uncle Bill’s records with his full name, date and place of birth, his Social Security number, parents’ names and hometown at the time of employment, and nothing more. But every bit of information we can supply will help identify the right person and get the right record.

Then we send it in to the National Archives in St. Louis; the address and instructions for the form are online here.

The National Archives will do a search and let us know if a record exists and how much it will cost — if it’s five pages or fewer, it’s a flat fee of $25; for six pages or more, it’s a flat fee of $70. We pay up, and the records are then sent by mail.

So… have you ordered yours yet?


SOURCES

  1. Cody White, “The CCC … in Color!,” The National Archives: The Text Message Blog, posted 15 Nov 2016 (https://text-message.blogs.archives.gov/ : accessed 15 Nov 2016).
  2. “An Act For the relief of unemployment through the performance of useful public work, and for other purposes,” 48 Stat. 22 (31 Mar 1933).
  3. See Wikipedia (http://www.wikipedia.com), “United States presidential inauguration,” rev. 15 Nov 2016. The inauguration wasn’t changed to January until passage of the 20th Amendment in 1933; FDR’s second inauguration, in 1937, was in January.
  4. CCC Brief History,” Civilian Conservation Corps Legacy (http://www.ccclegacy.org/ : accessed 15 Nov 2016).
  5. §1, “An Act For the relief of unemployment through the performance of useful public work, and for other purposes,” 48 Stat. 22.
  6. “Midland to Give Diplomas to Many,” Abilene (Tex.) Reporter-News, 7 May 1939, p. 7, col. 6; digital images, Newspapers.com (http://www.newspapers.com : accessed 15 Nov 2016).
  7. See e.g. Report of Changes, U.S. Naval Air Station, San Diego, California, 30 August 1940, entry for Cottrell, Billy R.; digital images, “WWII Navy Muster Rolls,” Fold3.com (https://www.fold3.com : accessed 15 Nov 2016).
  8. 1940 U.S. census, Midland County, Texas, Midland City, population schedule, enumeration district (ED) 165-3A, page 7(B) (stamped), sheet 7(B), household 161, C.R. Cottrell household; digital image, Archives.gov (http://1940census.archives.gov : accessed 6 Apr 2012); citing National Archive microfilm publication T627, roll 4105.
  9. Individual Record, Civilian Conservation Corps, Billy Rex Cottrell; CCC enrollee personnel and payroll records; National Personnel Record Center, National Archives, St. Louis, Mo.
  10. Ibid., Certificate of Selection, 30 Sep 1938. Note that he only had four living brothers; a fifth, Donald, died in 1932.
  11. Ibid.
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