FDR’s Alphabet Soup: Records from the Great Depression

Cath Madden Trindle



(Farm Security Administration -Resettlement Act of 1935)



FSA Farm Security Administration: Arkansas squatter for three years in California near BakeFSAfield, California: photo by D. Lange, ca. 193? —  ARC Identifier 196259
Item from Collection FDR-PHOCO: Franklin D. Roosevelt Library Public Domain Photographs, 1882 – 1962

The Farm Security Administration was set up in 1937 to aid tenant farmers and to carry out rehabilitation work of the Resettlement Administration.    The FSA established temporary housing for Dust Bowl refugees from Oklahoma and Arkansas who had migrated to California in hopes of finding employment. In total, the FSA loaned more than a billion dollars to farmers and set up many camps for destitute migrant workers. 

The FSA succeeded the Resettlement Administration, which had been established in 1935 to administer rural rehabilitation and land programs begun in 1933 under the Subsistence Homesteads Division of the Department of the Interior and the Federal Emergency Relief Administration.


Records of the FSA are held in regional NARA facilities.  Some have online indexes


In California, Riverside has 12 cf of records dated 1934-1944 for Cochise, Mohave, and Pima County offices, Arizona, and Orange County office, California. The records relate to paid-in-full rural rehabilitation loans and include Farm and Home Management Plans submitted by loan applicants. They contain information about the farm family’s assets, expenses, food consumption, income, and production.  In San Bruno, 93 cf cover Arizona, California, Hawaii, Nevada, and Utah. The records relate to construction and operation of migratory labor camps, farm loans, relief to low-income rural families, and rural resettlement and rehabilitation.  There is correspondence, newsletters, architectural drawings, maps and photographs included with the textual files.   The NARA facility at College Park has a collection of still pictures.

The records can add detail on individuals, families and the camps in which they lived.   

labor camp

May 1936 Arvin [Weekly reports, Thomas Collins, camp manager] RF-CF-16 918-01, 05/1936 – 05/1936
Kern County Migratory Camp

























In 1946 the Farmers Home Administration (FHA) was established within the Department of Agriculture to succeed the FSA.   The FHA provides small farmers with credit to construct or repair homes, improve farming operations, or become farm owners, and gives individual guidance in farm and home management.

Besides NARA look for records in university, state and local collections.



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Cath Madden Trindle
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