2023 New Deal WPA & CCC Calendar Art

2023 marks the 90th anniversary of the New Deal

90th anniversary of the WPA and & CCC in 2023

2023 marks the 90th anniversary of the 1930’s New Deal. To celebrate this milestone two unique calendars are offered highlighting the art of the
Works Progress Administration (WPA) and the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC).  Revenues from both calendars will support the organizations and endeavors that  keep this Great Depression New Deal history relevant.

2023 New Deal art calendars by Kathleen Duxbury are $19.33, plus tax and shipping and are available here.

2023 – New Deal 1939 WPA Federal Art Project Poster Division Calendar

2023 New Deal CCC Art – Marshall Davis – Artists of the Civilian Conservation Corps

Thank you for your support.

2023 calendar – repurposed 1939 WPA Federal Art Project calendar originally created in 1938 by the NYC Poster Division of the FAP
B&W illustration by CCC artist Marshall Davis
2023 New Deal CCC Art – Artists of the Civilian Conservation Corps – Marshall Davis

Calendar orders will be accepted and fulfilled by the LULU print-on-demand

Harry Everett Townsend – WWI Combat, CCC & WPA Artist

Harry Everett Townsend  ( 1879 – 1941)

This article profiles a struggling time, 1933 – 34, in the life of artist Harry Everett Townsend. His story is one part of a much larger New Deal narrative that will circle back to the National Archives (NA) and the inadvertent retention and rediscovery of “orphaned” * New Deal “business files”.  These financial files were generated during the short lifespan of the first federal art program, the Public Works of Art Project (PWAP), they dovetail and compliment other known New Deal collections at the NA and add factoids previously unknown.

There are a wealth of books and articles written about Harry Everett Townsend, but none address this soul crushing and devastating Great Depression period in his life. Suffice to say, Townsend, although well known and established, was an artist desperate for work. He would come to find relief and purpose with the various federal art programs; employment which saved him financially and emotionally.

It wasn’t until he was sent to depict the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) that he was once again in his element. As a WWI veteran combat artist he saw his employment with the PWAP as an opportunity to repay a debt to America, fulfilling a commitment he felt was long overdue.

Harry Everett Townsend

” I am in trouble and truly sick at heart . . . one is ashamed to face the world.”

1934 Feb. 19th – Harry Everett Townsend, sent an impassioned letter to PWAP Reg. 2 Director Julianna Force, imploring her to reconsider and continue his PWAP artist employment. He had been one of eight WWI American Expeditionary Force (AEF) combat artists sent to France in 1918.  Now sixteen years later, Harry was again one of eight artists in his region selected to depict an army of another kind, the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC), affectionately known as FDR’s Tree Army. images NARA

Continue reading “Harry Everett Townsend – WWI Combat, CCC & WPA Artist”

1935 Labor Day Hurricane – CCC First Responders – Part II

Great Labor Day Hurricane of 1935, WWI Veterans in Storm’s Path and the C.C.C. First Responders – by Kathleen Duxbury

Part I can be found here

Florida Labor Day Hurricane of 1935

During the dark and treacherous evening of Monday, September 2, 1935 the most intense recorded storm in Florida’s history slammed directly into the Florida Keys. Hundreds of War Veterans at the FERA relief and rehabilitation camps #1, 3 and 5 were left in the path of this monstrous storm.

NOAA Central weather map surface analysis of 1935 Florida hurricane September 4, 1935, composited image to demonstrate location of the three FERA Veterans camps that were in the direct path and decimated.

A call for an evacuation train from Miami was made too late, when it arrived it was minutes before a massive tidal surge engulfed the keys. The vicious winds were up to 183 mph, during this tornado like pass almost all ramshackle structures in the Upper Keys were destroyed, hundreds were dead, missing or injured. Killed by a powerful force that sandblasted, crushed, drown, or washed them out to sea, many never to be identified or found.

Numerous investigative stories written by local reporters were published, the FERA authorities would blame the weather service and call it an “act of God”, one of the first on the scene was Earnest Hemingway, he would write a scathing article “Who Murdered the Vets?”  for the socialist newspaper The New Masses; attracting the attention of the FBI. National newspapers were filled with pages of gruesome images of the death and destruction. The nation was shocked.


Before the end of September the FERA closed all camps and shelters to new applicants and, by then end of November 1935, all transient activities were liquidated. Injured veterans were transferred to VA medical facilities. Employable veterans would receive jobs with various WPA projects, those who declined or were rated unemployable were returned to the States of their origin.

In 1936, there was a Congressional hearing for passage of a bill, H.R. 9486,  regarding compensation for the widows, families and survivors of the veterans.

First Responders – CCC Company #1421

Between Sept. 2nd and 9th, inclusive, the labor of CCC Co. #1421 was diverted to relief activities in the Florida Keys. Their previous visit had been for sport and recreation, but this trip would be for search and rescue, a mission that would quickly turn to the gruesome task of recovery.

The national newspaper of the CCC was Happy Days, the efforts of Miami CCC Co. 1421 was featured in a full page article.

At least 120 bodies were recovered by the boys from CCC Co. #1421, it was a traumatizing experience.

After the hurricane C.C.C. Co. 1421 published their camps newspaper The Wander. CCC artist and reporter, Douglas W. Reynolds, created this haunting cover image. From the George Smathers Library, Univ of Florida, Gainesville, Florida, CCC Records, special and Areas Study collection

The next edition, September 12, 1935, of their CCC camp newspaper, The Wanderer, used a haunting cover image drawn by camp artist and reporter Douglas W. Reynolds. Included were numerous articles on the CCC company’s response to the disaster and first person accounts.



“Company 1421 was well prepared for the storm on September 2. When storm warnings were posted for the Miami area, Ensign Cain decided to place the company in the Dade County Armory during the storm. Each man carried his own pillow and blanket.  The storm lasted the entire night so nearly everyone slept on the floor.”

The next morning the CCC boys answered a call to assist the Red Cross and Coast Guard for search and rescue on the Keys. They left Miami at 5:30 am arriving at Key Largo by 9 am. This was the furthest south they could travel; roads and bridges had been washed away.

  The boys in the company who volunteered for relief work on the storm-stricken Keys were split into three different groups. One of the groups went searching for bodies on the Coast Guard cutters…one cutter was unable to find the channel at night and several enrollees spent the night on board… Another group were pressed into stretcher service and other group worked on a temporary bridge.. The temporary suspension bridge was thrown over the swollen Snake Creek…bridge was fifty yards in length . . . constructed by two strands of cable and salvaged lumber from the original bridge … the only means of communication with Windlass Island and the other lower Keys…  Later in the day a group was sent across to Windless Island to search the debris for bodies.

Temporary bridge over washed out roadbed – Snake Creek, Plantation Key. 1935.  State Archives of Florida, Florida Memory.

“Heavy rains and wind kept them from sleeping during the night” . . . after “All the living had been transferred to places of safety… the entire company searched for the dead.”

“From then on it was something in a bad dream. The wind and a succession of tidal waves had tossed many of the bodies into trees or out to sea. Others were found under fallen buildings.”    . . . bodies were badly decomposed, by Friday, due to the strong rains and the strong sun.”

 “Practically the entire company had seen service on the relief work, as only a small work outfit was retained at the camp to care for necessary duties.”

“Though handicapped by almost primitive cooking facilities…the kitchen force worked from morning until late at night…feeding from fifty to two hundred men at a time…The menu was not varied…no one complained.”

Could this be Hurricane Fanny, the dog recused by CCC Co. 1421 after the hurricane? photo circa 1936-37, ©Kathleen Duxbury CCC collection of S. George Salter

“Hurricane Fanny, a small fox terrier is new mascot of Co. 1421. She was found on top of a house between Matecombe and Snake Creek. Fanny and a cat were the only living things left there.”

“Chaplin Neville made his bi-weekly call to the Miami CCC camp…but did not hold services. On Friday he went town to Snake Creek and conducted Services for the veteran dead.”

“Every man who had been on the island had worked and gone through an experience they never wish to have again, before they were finally relieved by FERA workers from Miami.”

“The storm . . . brought death to the remnants of the Bonus Army. They had survived the fury of the World War…May they find in death, the peace, which they seemed to have found but little of in life.”

Douglas Wolcott Reynolds, Labor Day Hurricane, Florida Keys, September 4, 1935,  Smithsonian American Art Museum, Transfer from the General Services Administration, 1974.28.69

A New Camp

“This excitement was hardly over when another hurricane struck with full force and utterly destroyed the Miami CCC camp on November 4, 1935.”  Within months a new modern camp would be constructed, the new home of Co. 1421 became one of the most beautiful camps in the entire 4th CCC Corps area.

CCC Company #1421 Miami Florida 1936 – situated N. Kendell Drive, south of Miami Florida, ©Kathleen Duxbury CCC collection of S. George Salter


Douglas Wolcott Reynolds, (b 1913   d 1995) was a resident of Jacksonville, Florida when he applied for admission into the CCC art program. He was a “graduate of Lee High School and attended a term at Ringling Art School, Sarasota, Florida, but was compelled to give up further training because of family financial difficulties.”

An epidemic of Mumps rode through camp in May 1935, Reynolds used this illustration for the cover of the Myakka Rattler.  From the George Smathers Library, Univ of Florida, Gainesville, Florida, CCC Records, Special and Areas Study Collection

Reynolds was assigned, on December 30, 1934 to CCC Co. # 1421, then stationed at Myakka State Park in Sarasota, Florida. He would be somewhat prolific in the art he would send, as required, to the administrative offices of Edward Rowan, in Treasury Department of Painting and Sculpture, Washington, D.C.

Rowan was sometimes critical of the oil paintings Reynolds shipped. Reynolds was young and untried and requested critiques from Rowan who responded, in April 1936, that he saw “possibilities of very interesting pictures, but I do not believe that your technique is sufficiently developed or your palette satisfactory. May I suggest that for a period, at least, you discard black from your palette”.

Rowan would continue to counsel the young CCC artist Reynolds until he was honorably discharged in June 1936. A large number of Reynolds CCC paintings were allocated back to both the Myakka State Park and the South Miami CCC camp superintendents.

Reynolds fit in well with CCC Company #1421 and became a feature writer and cartoonist for the camp paper the Myakka Rattler and later The Wanderer. He got along well with the officers in charge and the technical staff. That is until a new commander was assigned to the Miami camp.

In an April 19, 1936 letter Reynolds writes Rowan . . .”The new Captain came. He seems to think that I am a cross between a tractor and a convict…I understood when I entered that I would be exempt from extra physical labor, while abiding by the rules and regulations. I do not object to sweeping out the barracks . . .but I do object to  . . . swallowing insults from a commanding Officer who hasn’t enough fairness or decency to run a stock yard. If this labor was a punishment for some misdemeanor I would not write, but it is a regular duty and it interferes with my painting.”

On June 30, 1936, at his own request Reynolds received an Honorable Discharged from the So. Miami, Florida CCC Co. #1421. His manner of performance, as an Artist, was rated Excellent.


This oil painting titled “Florida Hurricane” would be transferred, in 1974, from the General Services Administration to the Smithsonian Museum of American Art, where it is today. It appears Reynolds experience with the  relief effort of his CCC company and a photograph, printed in the Miami Tribune, of the hurricane rescue by the Coast Guard and CCC boys was the inspiration.

While in the CCC, Reynolds, was awarded a scholarship to study art at the University of Miami. He would later receive his BFA from Yale University School of Fine Art and earned a Master of Arts in Art and in Art Education from Columbia University. * During his long career as an abstract expressionist he became the Art Director at multiple universities and retired as Director of Art from Hampton University in 1978.

Douglas W. Reynolds died on February 11, 1995 in Williamsburg, Virginia.

  • 2022 – correction to degree type

The works and writing of Florida historian Jerry Wilkenson at can be found at the Jerry Wilkenson Research Library in addition to the stories and research he has written on the keyshistory website.  His writings helped me better understand the three FERA veterans camps, #1, 3 & 5, decimated in the 1935 Labor Day Hurricane. Thank you.



1935 Labor Day Hurricane – CCC First Responders – Part 1

Great Labor Day Hurricane of 1935,
WWI Vets in the Storm’s Path and
the C.C.C. First Responders – By Kathleen Duxbury

The Great Labor Day Hurricane of 1935 is described as the most intense Atlantic hurricane to make landfall. It is listed as a Category 5 tempest; highest wind speed was recorded at 183 mph. Many of the hundreds of people in its path, on the Florida Keys, were World War I veterans. The vets were living in temporary relief camps while working on construction projects for the Florida Road Commission. The September 2nd storm was a horrific event, the vets should have been evacuated, instead they were sandblasted.

Sadly, over time there would be accusations and assumptions that would percolate, naive statements later reported that these Florida camps were Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) veterans’ camps. For decades, the CCC was blamed and shamed for the part they allegedly played in the disaster, and in some cases still is.

The truth and hard facts are documented – there were absolutely NO CCC camps, of any kind, south of Miami, Florida, during the summer of 1935. The morning after the historic storm passed the young CCC boys from Co. #1421 in Miami rushed to the scene of the disaster, they were among those first to arrive and what they encountered was shocking.

As we remember this storm 85 years later it is time to recognize, correct and honor the CCC legacy as First Responders.

Letter to Eleanor Roosevelt

On August 27, 1935, Albert C. Keith, composed a heartfelt letter about the Veterans relief and rehabilitation camps in the State of Florida.  He sent a package to: Mrs. Franklin D. Roosevelt, The White House, Washington, D.C. with a return address of Editor, Key Vt. News, Islamorada, Florida.

Albert C. Keith, Editor of The Key Veterans News sent a letter and copies of the newspaper to Eleanor Roosevelt,  August 27, 1935 ©2016KathleenDuxbury

These veterans camps were organized as temporary emergency relief measure to assist unemployed World War veterans who had returned to Washington D.C., during the summer of 1933, demanding  a promised “Bonus” payment for their services in World War I.

The Florida veterans’ camps were administered by the state of Florida Emergency Relief Administration. The state of Florida received funds through their Governor, the monies were allotted by the Federal Emergency Relief Administration in Washington, D.C., both confusingly known as the FERA.

The Florida Relief Administration employed civilians to administer the three veteran’s camps in the Florida Keys. These FERA administrations differed dramatically from the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) junior and world war veterans’ camps, the CCC camps were administered by the Army and a separate CCC federal agency.

One of The Key Veterans News sent sent by Albert C. Keith to Eleanor Roosevelt, August 27, 1935  ©2016KathleenDuxbury

Keith, himself a World War I veteran was writing from the FERA Camp #1 Islamorada, Florida where he was Editor of The Key Veterans New. Included with his letter to Eleanor were ten copies of the FERA vets newspaper.

Keith described the extensive FERA work being done on the Florida Keys. He stressed how these jobs offered the many homeless men the opportunity to once again financially provide for themselves and their families. He spoke of the sanctuary it offered to those unable to “carry on”, and referred to the many veterans who were unable to enter the C.C.C. veterans’ camps “due to their physical handicaps.”

Concern was voiced over the rumor that these Florida FERA camps would be discontinued the following November. Keith stated, “in my opinion this would be a death sentence.”

Little could Keith realize that to stay on the Keys would be the death sentence; it was hurricane season in south Florida.

Within two weeks of Keith’s communication the camp he was writing from and two others would be obliterated in the historic and devastating Labor Day hurricane of September 2, 1935.

Keith’s parcel was received at the Congressional Mail Sub-Division in Washington D.C. on September 4, 1935, two days after the hurricane. It was forwarded to the Correspondence Division of the F.E.R.A, where it was stamped received on September 12, 1935.

Letter from Albert C. Keith stamped received and dated. ©2016KathleenDuxbury

Then it was answered on September 18, 1935 by Elizabeth Wickenden, assistant director of transient activities for the FERA at Washington. She addressed her response, sixteen days after the disaster, to Mr. Albert C. Keith, Editor, Key Veterans News, Islamorada, Florida, stating “Mrs. Roosevelt has asked that I reply to your letter of August 27th . . .Wickenden explains that the “federal relief grants will cease November 1… plans have been made to have veterans that meet the requirements sent to CCC camps and those that do not will be taken care of in other ways.”

Sixteen days after the Florida Keys were decimated Elizabeth Wickenden, FERA Administrative Assistant, responds to Albert C. Keith in Islamorada, Florida.

In a 1992, interview  (1) Wickenden states: My immediate boss was the deputy administrator of the FERA, Aubrey Williams. And much of our contact with the local and state administrators was handled by Aubrey Williams. I was his assistant, really his alter ego.

Immediately after the hurricane Aubrey Williams, assistant to the director of the FERA, along with Col. George E. Ijams of the veterans Administration, took off by seaplane to view the devastated area. They were directed to personally investigate the events leading up to the fatalities and destruction caused by the hurricane. Their preliminary report, sent to President Roosevelt, in essence, determined that “it was impossible for us to reach a conclusion of negligence or mistaken judgement” on the part of those responsible for the safety of the veterans on the keys.  “the catastrophe must be characterized as an act of God.”

It’s troubling to learn that Aubrey Williams’ “alter ego” and personal assistant, Wickenden, posted a letter to Keith addressed to the very decimated location he had seen from the air and reported on, two weeks prior.

In March 1936, a Congressional hearing on the “Florida Hurricane Disaster” was convened. During this hearing, the total number of fatalities was stated as: 485 bodies recovered, 257 were war veterans. For years to follow remains would continue to be found.

Miraculously, Keith would be listed among those who survived from Veterans Camp #1 in Islamorada.

By 1940, Keith was living with his wife Mary, in Atlantic City, Georgia. His occupation was “W.P.A. Writer” on a “W.P.A newspaper”.  Keith, who would become a U.S. Marshall, continued his letter writing. Many of his Letters to  Editor of the Atlanta Constitution in support of politicians and also to champion the causes of those who suffered the injustices from poverty and homelessness can be found. He died in 1952 at the age of 53.


On the front page of the August 24, 1935 edition of The Key Veterans News  sent to Eleanor Roosevelt was a blurb mentioning a baseball game to be hosted the next day by the All-Star Veterans. The All-Stars were a baseball team comprised of WWI veterans from the various FERA camps on the keys. The Vets had recently entered the Dade County baseball league. Their opponents would be, The Wanderers, a team from Miami C.C.C. Company # 1421.

This CCC company of junior of enrollees were new to Miami, having taken up residence on the east coast of Florida just five days earlier.

Miami Daily Tribune, August 20. 1935. Five days later their company baseball team The Wanderers would play a game against the All-Star Veterans on the FERA camp #1 Snake Creek diamond. ©Kathleen Duxbury CCC collection S. George Salter


The Miami CCC camp had been abandoned earlier in the month of August by CCC Co # 264. Ironically, when Co.#264 was still in Miami they were planning a Labor Day baseball game with the All-Stars, but their CCC company was abruptly relocated to South Carolina. On August 20th, the new company #1421, formerly from Myakka State Park, arrived in Miami. They were more than pleased to be near the bathing beauties who frequented the beaches of Miami.  The baseball game with the All Stars and the CCC boys was rescheduled for the following Sunday,  August 25th and would be played at the Vets camp #1 in Islamorada.

A unique aspect of CCC Co. #1421 was an enrollee who was an official CCC artist, Douglas Wolcott Reynolds. He moved from Myakka State Park with them to Miami.


The war veterans in the Key West FERA camps looked forward to hosting visitors and teams to their improved ballpark, the Snake Creek diamond. They were proud of their baseball field built with seating for hundreds of spectators and worked hard to level off an adjacent lot which they had spread with loads of gravel to accommodate visitor parking.

It was a 90 mile journey from Miami to the FERA camp on the Keys. When the CCC boys and fans arrived the morning of the scheduled game they  brought along their older bats, liniment, and mitts. The game was to be called at 2:30 pm. Prior to the cry of “play ball”, the junior CCC players were offered dinner at the Islamorada Camp #3, and after the game supper was provided at Camp #1.

The young C.C.C. ballplayers returned to Miami victorious, reporting in the next edition of their camp paper The Wanderer how they “came from behind to down the Key West Veterans by the very close score of 3-1.”  The date of this CCC camp newspaper was August 29, 1935. Two days later ships in the vicinity of the Bahamas told of squally weather and strong winds; the season’s first tropical storm was developing.

PART II – Continued
The Great Labor Day Hurricane 1935 –
CCC First Responders


1 -Interview with Elizabeth Wickenden , conducted by Blackside, Inc. on January 23, 1992, for The Great Depression . Washington University Libraries, Film and Media Archive, Henry Hampton Collection




Exhibit: Life and Art in the Great Depression by Reima V. Ratti

Ratti’s love of art guided his life and would lead him on a path to history.

Civilian Conservation Corps Art on Exhibit update:
Because of the current 2020 COVID-19 pandemic the Dunn Museum is closed and all events associated with the current Reima Ratti: Life and Art in the Great Depression exhibit have been cancelled.

It is no exaggeration that exhibits highlighting pieces from the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) Art Program are exceedingly rare and it is unfortunate that this exhibit, the story and discovery of this New Deal story and CCC art can not continue.

Originally scheduled for January 25-April 12, 2020, was a special exhibition focusing on the life of CCC artist, Reima V. Ratti  at the Bess Bower Dunn Museum in Libertyville, Illinois.

The exhibit featured the Art , letters, photographs and other treasures created during the Great Depression and during Reima Ratti’s enrollment in the three “C’s”. In addition to a small statuette that inspired a brass monumentCalendar events that were to include tours, family activities and an Author Talk have been cancelled.

The story can still be told and discovered in the book by Kathleen Duxbury:
CCC ART – Reima Victor Ratti – Artists of the Civilian Conservation Corps available through Barnes & Noble, Amazon, Dunn Museum, Ingram and other online booksellers.

Museum Closed 3/19/202presentation cancelled
CCC ART – Reima V. Ratti 3/19/2020, Dunn Museum presentation cancelled


CCC Art – Reima Victor Ratti

CCC ART – Reima Victor Ratti – Artists of the Civilian Conservation Corps is now available at:  B&N, Amazon and soon will be available at the Bess Bower Dunn Museum.

DRILLERS by Reima Ratti 1936

This is a story of a young, New Deal artist with a romantic name, Reima Ratti. Born in Waukegan, Illinois in 1914, he was like so many young boys of his generation. Young men who came of age during the  jobless years of the Great Depression. Ratti joined the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) as a regular enrollee  to help himself and his family. As a trained, but untried artist, he brought along his sketchpad, pencils and brushes. What transpired, during his CCC artist days and beyond, would set him on a path to history.

“I have heard much about the CCC artists and the fine work they have done. I would very much like to be a CCC artist myself.” Reima Ratti 1936   

Continue reading “CCC Art – Reima Victor Ratti”

CCC Art – Solving the Mysteries

Solving the mystery of CCC Art and its origins sometimes happens when you least expect it.

It is an exciting research day when one of the mysteries surrounding CCC Art can be solved, especially if you weren’t looking for it.

A component of the first federal government sponsored fine art programs, the Public Works of Art Project (PWAP) included depictions of the government work programs, the most popular being the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC).  Artists, who were considered roving artists, were briefly sent into camps to make a pictorial record of the life and work.

Leland Roger Gustavson (1899-1966) was one of these roving and prolific HAPPY DAYS 3/24/2934 picture of CCC/PWAP art with officials.PWAP artists. Gustavson was sent to several CCC camps during the harsh winter months of January and February 1934.

In its March 24, 1934 edition, HAPPY DAYS the unofficial national newspaper of the CCC included a front page report and photograph on the PWAP CCC art projects.

Until recently the identity of the CCC boy and the camps where Gustavson’s CCC art was created was long ago lost to history.

courtesy ccclegacy.org

Continue reading “CCC Art – Solving the Mysteries”

Frank Cassara – Last of the New Deal CCC artists

During the Great Depression persistence and talent earned Frank Cassara a young, untried artist his place among the greats in New Deal art history.

The last of the New Deal Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) artists, Frank (Francesco) Cassara, born March 13, 1913 in Partinico, Sicily died January 13, 2017, in Ann Arbor, Michigan – two months shy of his 104th birthday.

Frank Cassara CCC artist 2010
During a September 2010 interview Frank Cassara, a former CCC and WPA artist, graciously shared recollections of his New Deal assignments. ©2010 Kathleen Duxbury.    All Rights Reserved

In the fall of 2010, Frank Cassara and his daughter, Francisca, graciously welcomed me into his Michigan home and studio. While giving me directions they voiced concerns with traffic I might encounter en-route; a football game was scheduled at the University of Michigan. If there was traffic I never noticed, but do recall the Spartans were not the only winners that weekend.

Frank was then 97 years old, in a wheelchair, soft spoken and was quietly reflective as I questioned him about his time and special circumstances as an Artist/Enrollee with the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) in Illinois during the Great Depression years.

Initially we sat in the living room of his home. Frank watched as I arranged my papers, camera equipment and hooked up the audio recorder all while explaining the who and whys of our New Deal research, extensive travels and how we search for CCC art, artists and stories.

Frank apologized for what he believed would be unproductive time and wasted travel for me; explaining it had been years (authors note – 75+ years) since his assignment to a CCC camp and he really couldn’t remember much.

Truthfully, I didn’t know what to expect as I handed Frank copies of CCC camp photographs and letters. The documents were dated 1934 – 1935, years when Frank was 21 years of age, living in Detroit, Michigan and desperate for work. He was writing or approaching anyone or any agency he thought might be of assistance, repeatedly.

Continue reading “Frank Cassara – Last of the New Deal CCC artists”

Researching CCC Art

Between 1934-1937 the CCC art program encompassed the lower forty-eight states. Researching this quiet part of American art history requires extensive travel and investigation. Using a vintage motor home allows the best access to sleuthing within the parks, repositories and other collections that house this New Deal history. Often crucial information is found by going to the source; clues that lead to the art, artists and stories of the CCC.

Traveling History's Trail Together Autumn Years magazine 2015

We are appreciative for this article which draws attention to a quiet part of America art history and our efforts in researching the Civilian Conservation Corps and the New Deal CCC art program.

“Traveling History’s Trail . . . Together” written by Patricia Farrell Delhauser along with the design and layout by Heidi Gross appeared in the Fall 2015 edition of Autumn Years magazine.

The complete article with images may be viewed on my website  KathleenDuxbury.com  along with information on the first in a series that highlights the CCC artists and the CCC art program.


CCC ART – Artists of the Civilian Conservation Corps – Marshall Davis

 CCC ART – Artists of the Civilian Conservation Corps – Marshall Davis”

Marshall Davis was a young, untried and struggling artist caught up in a dramatic and timely turn of events. It was the Great Depression, his only option for a job was to enroll in the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) as a laborer.  Davis wisely brought along his sketchpad and pencils and embarked on a artistic journey that would change his life and our understanding of the three C’s.  Through the discovery of his masterful and whimsical illustrations, letters and records we are provided with a true visual of the real CCC. The CCC was the first and most successful of the New Deal work programs; a massive movement that is recognized as the greatest conservation effort in US history.


Available direct from the author Kathleen Duxbury at www.kathleenduxbury.com; at the New Deal Store   
FDR Presidential Library
bookstore, Hyde Park, New York and online

 “I have a pile of picture material – and thanks to those managing the Art Project and Mr. Hoyt of Happy Days – the time is drawing near when I will have nothing to do but sleep – eat – and draw . . . I assure you I will do my best with every opportunity.”   (Clarence) Marshall Davis

One can easily sense the excitement felt by junior Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) enrollee Marshall Davis on March 24, 1934 as he put pen to paper and wrote those words to Edward Rowan in the Treasury Department  Washington, D.C.  Marshall Davis was about to join the first of the government art programs, the Public Works of Art Project (PWAP).
his assignment was to make a pictorial record of the CCC, a program his knew well.