National Museum of American History Acquires Civilian Conservation Corps Collection

May 13, 2007

The Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History has received an important collection documenting the Civilian Conservation Corps, which was created in March 1933 by President Roosevelt as a component of the New Deal. A gift from the National Association of Civilian Conservation Corps Alumni, this collection of CCC historic objects contains nearly 155 cubic feet of archival records documenting the corps and historical artifacts, many dating from the 1930s.

“This donation represents a significant opportunity for the museum to expand its CCC collection for a comprehensive representation of the corps and the impact it had on the development of this country,” said Brent D. Glass, director of the museum.

The CCC program was administered by the U.S. Army and based on a military model; it aimed to relieve unemployment by providing conservation work for young, single men. At its peak, the CCC employed 500,000 men and provided work for more than 3 million men throughout its existence. The process revitalized the nation with new roads, forests and improvements to the general infrastructure.

The collection consists of archival records; insignia for the individual camps; pennants; two safety banners; uniform items (coat, shirt, hats, athletic jerseys); souvenir items (pillow shams, watch fobs, rings); items made by the “CCC boys”, as they were known, and some equipment used by the CCC (telephones, survey equipment).

In 1942, the United States became involved in World War II, the Great Depression had ended and the CCC had outlived its usefulness and was abolished. By the time the program ended the “boys” had built more than 46,000 bridges, planted more than 3 billion trees, erected more than 27,000 miles of fences, stocked rivers and lakes with more than 1 billion fish, halted soil erosion more than 20 million acres and developed more than 800 state parks. The CCC’s legacy continues to this day.

The National Museum of American History collects, preserves and displays American heritage in the areas of social, political, cultural, scientific and military history. Documenting the American experience from Colonial times to the present, the museum looks at growth and change in the United States. The museum is closed for major renovations and will re-open in summer 2008. For more information about the museum, the public may visit http://americanhistory.si.edu or call Smithsonian information at (202) 633-1000 or (202) 633-5285 (TTY).