The University of Arizona
The New Deal in Arizona The New Deal in Arizona

Federal New Deal Programs and Their Histories

Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) (1933-1942)

The Civilian Conservation Corps was the largest peacetime mobilization of young men in our history. The CCC brought work, training, educational opportunities, discipline, and much needed wages to unemployed young men, aged 17 to 23. They earned $30.00 a month, $25.00 of which was sent home to their families. Enrollees lived in camps managed by the Army. The work projects were supervised by federal land agencies, counties or cities. The camp designation (e.g. NM2A) identified the supervising agency (NM for National Monument, NP for National Park, F for Forest Service, BR for Bureau of Reclamation, SP for State Park, and SCS for Soil Conservation Service). The number indicated the order in which the camp had been established and 'A' located the camp in Arizona. CCC enrollees planted trees, stopped soil erosion, and built local, state, and national parks. Many projects built by the CCC received funding from other New Deal agencies such as the PWA and WPA.

Civilian Conservation Corps -- Indian Division (CCC-ID) (1933-1942)

The CCC operated a separate Indian Division for Native Americans. Projects were specifically designed to improve Indian reservations and were manned by enrollees, aged 18 to 35, from local areas. Indian Division enrollees assisted in archaeological digs and built schools, hospitals and government buildings, roads, and infrastructure. They also worked with the Soil Conservation Service to restore their overused ranges and develop stock water tanks and soil control devices.

Civil Works Administration (CWA) (1933-1934)

The Civil Works Administration was one of the earliest of the New Deal programs. It was designed to put four million unemployed people back to work within a few weeks. CWA funded small jobs that took less than three months to complete and employed both skilled and unskilled labor. The program lasted only four-and-a-half months but engaged in 300,000 work projects across the nation. CWA was one of the few programs to employ women. Women were paid as visiting nurses, for sewing clothes and blankets for children and the homeless, and for canning food for the destitute. At the Tuzigoot ruins, women were hired to reconstruct broken prehistoric pottery.

Division of Subsistence Homesteads (DSH) (1933-1935)

The Division of Subsistence Homesteads was established as a public housing program. It was funded by the short-lived National Recovery Administration. The DSH program held great interest for President Franklin Delano Roosevelt because of his early efforts to restore farmlands and farming communities in New York State. The homesteads program offered to relocate rural families into government-created communities with adequate housing and small-scale farming opportunities. Within Arizona, the Phoenix Homesteads is the most intact of these communal subsistence landscapes.

Federal Art Project (FAP) (1935-1943)

The Federal Art Project was established in 1935 and funded by the Works Progress Administration. FAP funded the creation of visual works of art for non-federal government buildings including schools and universities, hospitals, and libraries. Artists were paid to create posters, murals, and paintings. The Federal Art Program also supported the construction of community art centers and art education programs for both children and adults. The project funded an estimated 370,000 individual works of art before its demise in 1943.

Federal Emergency Relief Administration (FERA) (1933-1934)

In 1933 one in every five families in Arizona was on relief. The purpose of the Federal Emergency Relief Administration was to rapidly transmit millions of dollars to states for distribution as public assistance and later for work projects. A significant portion of the relief was used to support transient or homeless populations. Transients drove or walked or rode the rails westward toward California in hopes of working in the agricultural fields. FERA monies fed, clothed, and housed transients in temporary camps at state fairgrounds and on national forests. Later in 1934, transients were employed to do light construction work. FERA supported 1,000 laborers in Graham and Greenlee counties to stop soil erosion. Some built water and sewer improvements; others ran daycare centers.

National Youth Administration (NYA) (1935-1943)

Roosevelt created the National Youth Administration to deal with the unemployment problems of students, aged 16 to 25 years. During the Depression many young adults had left school to assist in supporting their families. The NYA provided students with financial assistance as well as part-time and full-time jobs in order to keep them in school. They constructed recreation sites, made landscaping improvements, chopped firewood for heating, repaired toys, and provided social and clerical services. The NYA was the first federal program to provide financial support for black and Hispanic students.

Public Works Administration (PWA) (1933-1941)

The Public Works Administration funded large state and federal building projects that required planning, skilled labor, and machines. The goal of the PWA was to stimulate the economy through the purchase of building materials and the employment of large numbers of construction workers. Because of the complexity of organizing and completing large projects, the program was slow to provide relief nor did it enlist sufficient numbers of workers to significantly reduce unemployment. In Arizona the largest amount of PWA funds was spent on the construction of Hoover Dam. Significant PWA funding also went to Indian reservations for schools, hospitals, and infrastructure.

Reconstruction Finance Corporation (RFC) (1932-1953)

Late in the Hoover administration, a modest attempt was made to stimulate the economy with federal monies. Most funds went to large businesses such as banks, railroads, and mining corporations. Later Congress expanded the power of the RFC to include loans to states for direct relief as well as work relief. Never before had the federal government provided funds to aid the unemployed. By 1933, $1.4 million in RFC loans had been loaned to Arizona to build highways and develop irrigation projects.

Resettlement Administration (RA) (1935-1937)

The Resettlement Administration supplanted the Division of Subsistence Homesteads. RA was designed to create model communities into which thousands of transient and displaced families would be relocated. Some communities were built as large collective farms in which smaller (20-acre) plots were allotted to each family. Smaller-scale projects resettled families closer to urban centers. These communities provided low-cost housing and one-acre gardens where residents could grow subsistence produce to supplement their part-time employment. These smaller homesteads were designed to function communally with additional shared farmland.

Works Progress Administration (WPA) (1935-1940)

The Works Progress Administration employed artists, writers, architects, singers, and construction workers. Like the Civil Works Administration (CWA), WPA concentrated on smaller, labor-intensive projects, but also built many lasting structures. Recipients of WPA funding excavated archaeological sites, painted murals for civic buildings, mounted theatre productions, built bridges, waterworks, schools, parks and community buildings, collected oral histories, and wrote travel descriptions for each state. The success of these projects was dependent upon local initiative and cooperation among local, state, and federal agencies. When funding from the short-lived CWA and FERA programs was terminated, WPA funds completed many earlier projects.

US Treasury's Section of Fine Arts (Section) (1934-1944)

Funded by the Treasury Department, the Section was designed to generate suitable art to embellish federal buildings. Commissions were awarded competitively to painters and sculptors according to their artistic talent. The subject of the artwork was meant to reflect not only the community but also the building in which it was housed. In 1939 the Treasury Department created the "48 States Competition" to encourage submissions of artwork for display in one post office in each state. By the end of the program, the Section had commissioned more than 1,000 murals and 300 sculptures, most of which were placed in newly built post offices across the country.