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The CCC I&M Canal Photographs collection contains images of the work of the Civilian Conservation Corps along the I&M Canal and Illinois Waterway from 1933 to 1940. The Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) was created as part of President Franklin D. Roosevelt's New Deal to fight the Great Depression. CCC was a public works relief program established with the passage of the Emergency Conservation Work Act of 1933. The program in its ten years existence from 1933 to 1943, put some 2.5 million unemployed single young men to work on conservation projects.
The program was run by the U. S. Army, which organized the CCC workers into work teams of around 200 each and set up them up into camps. The actual work was directed by the Department of the Interior. The CCC mission through providing jobs for unemployed young men was to conserve and expand timber resources, increase recreational opportunities, and to control damage from soil erosion and floods.
There were some fifty CCC camps in Illinois, and eight of them were located along the I&M Canal and Illinois Waterway. The CCC I&M Canal Photographs collection largely covers the work of only three of those eight camps (614, 1609, and 2601), all at Starved Rock State Park, in Utica. Much less extensively covered is the work of the other five camps established along the I&M Canal and Illinois Waterway stretched from Willow Springs (Camp 612), to Romeoville (Camp 631), to Morris (Camp 630), to Marseilles (Camp 613), and finally to Buffalo Rock State Park west of Ottawa (Camp 628).
The photos in this collection covers CCC work in this area from 1933 to 1940, which according to historian Dennis Cremin, involved "developing bridle paths, foot trails, trailside shelters, comfort facilities, and boat docks, in addition to planting trees and shrubbery and constructing picnic accommodations." The focus of this collection is on CCC work along the I&M Canal and Illinois Waterway in Starved Rock State Park, in Lockport, and in McKinley Woods near Channahon.
The CCC I&M Canal Photographs collection came from various sources. Some came from historian John Lamb, who in 1964 began collecting I&M Canal-related photographs and other materials relating to the history and development of the canal and surrounding communities. In 1983, he donated to Lewis University his CCC I&M Canal photographs, which made up a part of a larger photo collection relating to the I&M Canal. This collection is now a part of the Howard and Lois Adelmann Regional History Collection.
Some other parts of the CCC photo collection came from Charlene Giardina, who supplied many of the photos that appeared in Starved Rock State Park: The Work of the CCC Along the I&M Canal (2002), which she co-wrote with Lewis University history professor Dennis H. Cremin. The CCC I&M Canal Photographs collection was put online in 2013.
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