The Resettlement Administration (1935) was a New Deal agency that became the Farm Security Administration (FSA). The FSA had many programs involving agriculture issues and dealt directly with the plight of farmers who were victims of the Dust Bowl disaster. In addition, there was a photography division headed by Roy Stryker which set out to document the Depression and the plight of thousands of victims. Stryker employed some of the greatest photographers including Dorthea Lange, Russell Lee, Walker Evans, and Ben Shahn to name a few. Today there are well over 100,000 of their photographs at the Library of Congress.

The FSA also set up around 20 experimental migrant camps, mostly in California. These camps were self-sufficient and were subject to rules and enforcement by the camp residents. They were clean and safe and offered a welcome respite for the migrants who were subject to cruel law enforcement officers and unscrupulous farmers who provided degrading and wretched living quarters for their workers.

As part of the camp program an effort was made to record music, poetry and oral history of the residents. “The Government Camp Song” offers a description of camp life from the mouths of two residents. The song was recorded in 1941 by Mary Campbell and Margaret Treat who were both twelve years old at the time and residents of the Shafter Camp.


Government Camp Song — 2 Comments

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

HTML tags allowed in your comment: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>