The Washington State Archives’ Digital Projects Archivists Maggie Cogswell and Mary Hammer led the way in completing a massive, 11-year project digitizing and cataloging photos of the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) from the Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission.
This collection of 2,396 photographs shows work conducted on Washington state parks by the CCC from 1933 to 1938, and includes images of Moran, Lewis and Clark, Deception Pass, Millersylvania, Riverside, Rainbow Falls, Carkeek, Denny Park, Mt. Spokane, Saltwater, Beacon Rock, Gingko, and Twanoh State Parks.
The CCC was a public work-relief program for unemployed men that focused on natural resource conservation from 1933 to 1942. As part of New Deal legislation proposed by President Franklin D. Roosevelt, the CCC was designed to provide work for young men during the Great Depression, as well as provide a natural-resource conservation program on federal and state lands. Members would enlist for a duration of six months, live in camps, wear uniforms, and abide by strict standards and discipline. About 3 million CCC men worked on public lands across the nation. Many of Washington’s state parks were built entirely by CCC men, creating one of America’s finest park systems.
One notable image in the collection shows the U.S. Macon flying over Saltwater State Park in Des Moines. The U.S. Macon was a rigid airship operated by the U.S. Navy. It was in service for less than two years before it was damaged in a storm and crashed off the coast of California on February 12, 1935.
When Cogswell took the reins of digitizing this collection, only one of its seven boxes had been fully processed and cataloged, and three boxes still needed imaging. Over the course of six months, with the help of students Kristen Brown and Jennifer Huapaya on digitizing, Cogswell processed and cataloged approximately 2,000 images to upload to the Digital Archives.
State Parks Curator of Collections Alicia L. Woods was so elated by the completion of such an extensive project, she wrote this thoughtful and thorough letter to State Archivist Steve Excell:
I have been with State Parks for a little over 11 years. I, as well as countless Parks’ staff, have utilized the staff and resources at State Archives regularly over the years. Whether it be silly questions we should already know the answer to, the crazy amounts of agency history we need to thumb through, or some wild – yet lesser known – event that is buried in the nooks and crannies of state history… State Archives has always been there, doing everything they could to try to help us succeed! Steve, you’ve got a great team of awesome and dedicated people.
When I came on board in 2007, Mary Hammer had just started working with her staff to get a very large collection of CCC (Civilian Conservation Corps) era nitrate negatives from Parks’ collection scanned. Through staff moving on, descending budget trends with excruciatingly slow recovery, shifts in time and duties, and I could go on and on… Mary, et. al. have prevailed! Today I picked up a thumb drive with the last of the digitized images. The scanning of the collection is complete!
While I realize there is no chance that everyone who touched this project is still with Archives… I still want to send to you this THANK YOU to pass along to Mary and her team. We are grateful for and appreciate all the hard work, attention to detail, and communication and coordination it took to make this happen.
Alicia L Woods
Nice work, Archives!