Shafter FSA Migrant Camp
“In the 1930s, in the midst of the Great Depression, more than 300,000 migrants from Oklahoma, Arkansas, Missouri, and Texas flocked to California, driven by poverty and the hope for new opportunities. This flood of migrants, collectively known as the Okies, included a wide cross-section of people—young and old, men and women, rural and urban…
In 1935, the Resettlement Administration (RA), and later the FSA, began to establish migratory labor camps to house the destitute migrants. Many migrants living in cars, tents, and shacks along “ditchbank” settlements (Figure 1) were attracted to the sanitary, newly constructed camps located along a 600-mile-long corridor through central California… One of the first such camps [was] constructed…at Shafter, California.” (O’Reilly)
Judging by the archival photos shown here, the camp was in full swing at least by 1937. It was still operating in 1941.
O’Reilly, Kelly R. “Oklatopia”: The Cultural Mission of California’s Migratory Labor Camps, 1935-1941. Link here Library of Congress
Project originally submitted by Bakersfield High School Archives on February 27, 2016.
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