Southern California Genealogical Society
SCGS RESEARCH ASSISTANCE - Articles

Have You Checked CCC Records Yet?
By Beth Maltbie Uyehara

Do you have a Depression-era male ancestor who worked for the CCC (Civilian Conservation Corps)? If so, and you have some idea of where he might have worked or when he left the corps, you could be in luck.

The personnel records of the 3-million men and boys who were enrolled in this Federal program (called “Roosevelt’s Tree Army” at the time) are available in NARA’s Records Group 35, both to the enrollees themselves, if they are still alive, or to the next of kin with proof of the enrollee’s death.

The CCC project was started in 1933 and ended in 1942, and its wages kept hope alive for millions of men who could not otherwise find work. In addition to salaries, the work camps also provided beds and hot meals.

These hard-working and often highly skilled men provided greatly needed public services. Among their varied public works, members of the CCC restored some 3,980 historical structures nationwide, according to the Website for the NACCCA (National Assn. of Civilian Conservation Corps Alumni); they developed over 800 state parks; planted more than 3-billion trees in forests that had been logged or burnt out; and improved more than 3,462 beaches.

History-minded California genealogists are probably aware of the marvelous reconstruction work done on California missions and other historic sites by CCC workers, including the authentic restoration of the entire La Purisima Concepcion Mission complex near Lompoc.

According to NACCA’s Website, there were more than 4,500 CCC camps in U.S. states, Alaska, Hawaii, and Puerto Rico. Among the camps in Southern California were locations in Azusa, Bakersfield, Canoga Park, Claremont, Corona, Fillmore, Glendale, Glendora, Hemet, La Canada, Monrovia, Moorpark, Ojai, Pasadena, Redlands, San Luis Obispo, Orange, San Pedro, Santa Barbara, San Bernardino, San Fernando, Saugus, Temecula, Tujunga, Upland, Ventura, and Westwood. This does not begin to cover the actual number of camps there actually were in this area, however, as there were multiple camps listed for many locations, such as San Bernardino and Glendale.

If you think an ancestor may have worked for the CCC, you can request his discharge records. The personnel records are held at the National Archives and they are not indexed (now there’s a project for some ambitious group!), but can be found with some digging. These are the instructions given on the NACCCA Website:

  • The enrollee or the enrollee’s next of kin may request discharge papers [from NARA]. Discharge papers are the best source to find the company and camps the enrollee was assigned to.

  • Specify the name that the individual enrolled by (Last, First, Middle) or Nickname. Include birth date, “Civilian Conservation Corps” as the branch of service. Provide the separation date, a location of the camp if known, and date and sign your request. If requesting information for a deceased individual, proof of death must accompany your request. Examples of acceptable proofs are a copy of a dated obituary or funeral memorial or a death certificate.

Once you receive a record of the discharge, you will learn the dates of service and the location of the camp where he worked, and from there you can examine the camp records. These include daily logs, correspondence and photos, and many more things of interest to researchers—so a search could unearth many interesting details. There are lists of camps on the NACCA Website, so educated guesses as to where an ancestor might have worked might pay off, too.

NACCCA has its headquarters and a museum in St. Louis, and its Website has more information. Volunteers will also assist you with searches of their own records. To learn more, visit NACCCA at www.cccalumni.org/about.html and www.cccalumni.org/museum.html or read about the CCC on NARA’s Website at http://www.archives.gov/research_room/federal_records_guide/civilian_conservation_corps_rg035.html


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