Western Kentucky University, Special Collections Library

Civilian Conservation Corps at Mammoth Cave National Park Oral History Project

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The Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) was a United States public work relief program that operated from 1933 to 1942 for unemployed, unmarried men from relief families. A part of the New Deal of President Franklin D. Roosevelt, it provided unskilled manual labor jobs related to the conservation and development of natural resources in rural lands owned by federal, state and local governments. The CCC was designed to provide employment for young men who had difficulty finding jobs during the Great Depression, while at the same time implementing a general natural resource conservation program in every state and territory. Over 2.5 million young men between the ages of eighteen and twenty-five worked in CCC camps in the nation’s rural areas and national, state, and local parks.

One of the largest CCC projects in Kentucky was the development of the Mammoth Cave properties. In the 1930s the CCC accelerated the transition of Mammoth Cave from a state run site to a national park. There were four different CCC camps stationed at Mammoth Cave, one of these was Company 510, also known as Camp Number One, which was made up entirely of African Americans.

This collection includes 29 recorded interviews with people employed in the Civilian Conservation Corps at Mammoth Cave. Also included are indices and transcripts of the interviews, as well as the final paper Kelly A. Lally wrote on the history of the CCC at Mammoth Cave. Lally wrote the paper in 1987 after receiving a grant from the Kentucky Oral History Commission to document the work of the CCC at Mammoth Cave by conducting interviews with those involved. The paper concentrates on five different areas: the background of the men who worked in the CCC at Mammoth Cave; work projects; camp life; the relationship of the Corps with the local population; and the general evaluation of the success and effectiveness of the CCC by former enrollees.

Interview transcripts and audio recordings have been made available for download through Western Kentucky University's institutional repository, TopSCHOLAR. It should be noted that access copies are also available through the Kentucky Oral History Commission, a branch of the Kentucky Historical Society. The catalog entry is accessible through the following link: https://khscatalog.on.worldcat.org/search?queryString=1988OH01.1#/oclc/8...

Authorization must be granted by WKU's Manuscripts and Folklife Archives to use or publish, by any means, the archival material to which WKU holds copyright.

To view the WKU Folklife Archives finding aid for this collection, click the following link: https://digitalcommons.wku.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1581&context=...

Photograph used for illustration purposes only (1953.10.406)