CCC Holidays

by Kathleen on December 18, 2013

Thanksgiving_Marshall-DavisHoliday Greetings

Between 1934 – 1937 the CCC special Art Project was active, the goal was to make a pictorial record of the life and work in the CCC camps.

All CCC artists were directed to be of assistance to the camp authorities when requests of an artistic nature were made. Many created murals for the Recreation Halls, paintings and diagrams for the classrooms and often did illustrations for the camp newspapers and reports. Their artistic talents were very much appreciated as they were called on to create art decorations for the camps and company publications, especially around the holidays.


CCCArtist_Records from the collection and research files of Kath
The most prolific CCC artist was Marshall Davis, he entered the CCC as a regular enrollee and brought along his sketch pad. His talents were soon  recognized and when the CCC special art program began he became a part of it. In time he was offered a staff position at the CCC unofficial newspaper “Happy Days“. His art is found on the Thanksgiving and Christmas menus along with years of illustrations in “Happy Days” and other CCC publications.

Happy Days CCC 1938-11-12-1

A book is in the works – titled ” CCC Artists – Marshall Davis – Artists of the Civilian Conservation Corps“. Publication will be in 2014 and  sizable amount of his CCC art will be featured to illustrate his remarkable story. Suffice to say, no other artist had visited as many CCC camps or knew the program as well as Marshall Davis, his depictions are humorous and poignant, he was a prolific CCC artist.

CCCArtist_Records from the collection and research files of KathAnother artist was Ted Bonnickson who contributed this New Years this cartoon to “Happy Days”. Bonnickson had trained at the Chicago School of Art but, like so many artists of his time he entered the commercial art field during the cruelest years of the Great Depression when their was little to no work for established artists. Bonnickson also signed on as a regular enrollee and like Davis had his status changed to Artist/Enrollee.

Dangers-CCC Some like Arkansas artist,  Benham Carter Dangers, sent sample of his art and applied directly to the agency in Washington, DC, the Section of Painting and Sculpture, that administered the CCC art program for admission. His application was made during the last months of the program and although he may not have had access to the art education of some other artists; he was accepted in to the program because his talents were recognized.  Benham Dangers was a young, unemployed artist, the time spent as a CCC Artist/Enrollee was instructive and empowering. The experience served him well in his future artistic endeavors.

The CCC camp newspapers of the 193o’s, for the most part, were not high quality; often they were printed using the low-budget camp mimeograph machine. Drawing and illustrations did not reproduce well using this method and many of these camp papers were preserved, decades later, by copying them to microfilm  or microfiche, a copying process that does not enhance the lines and details of any art. The copy of the Dangers illustration used for the cover of the camp newspaper “The Cassette” 1936 – 1937 Christmas and New Year edition was in extremely poor condition. All things considered he seems to have mastered the stylus used for this mimeographed stencil.

1935- Day after Thanksgiving Marshall Davis - Happy Days 11/23/1
CCC Camp authorities made an extra effort to entertain and provide a feast that would weigh down the tables, often the camps and the CCC boys reached out to the nearby community, especially the children, and included them in their parties and other holiday celebrations. It was the Great Depression and, as hard as it may have been to be so far away from home and family, holidays in the CCC camps would become for many CCC boys a lifetime memory.



A recommended website to read a wonderful article on the Holidays in the CCC camps can be found here:  Forest Army – Stories from the CCC.
Happy New Year 12-26-1936





George Gordon Snyder – Final Years

by Kathleen on June 24, 2013

Part 1 of this story may be found here

George Gordon Snyder was like a rolling stone, never in one place for long. Each decade brought change…and with it a new location to call home. His life-long pursuit of art would keep him working hard and challenged as he struggled to support himself, his wife and feed his passion for painting.

In the late 1800’s, Sarah Lewis Snyder, was a widowed mother of five and after George, her youngest child, completed elementary school she left Iowa and relocated to Lincoln, Nebraska. Qualifying for a mortgage, she purchased a home in a new development, five blocks east of the State Capitol Building and a mile south of the state university on South 21st Street. For the next four decades she lived there with her daughter Nettie, a bookkeeper.  Sarah was in her 92nd year when she died in 1931. The house had been valued the year before at $3000 and passed to Nettie, who never married or had children.


Perhaps this inheritance led to some resentment on Georges’ part. At the time of his mother’s death he was 58 years old and married. The financial stability his siblings had found eluded him, the crushing depression years were just beginning  and George was once again unemployed and struggling…having lost his position as a Designer with Marshall Field & Company he would soon leave Chicago in his self-made house truck, desperately optimistic that somehow, by traveling, he could produce an income from his artistic endeavors.

A suggestion of this possible bitterness is found in his CCC enrollment records; if you read between the lines.
CCC enrollment records George Gordon Snyder

When George arrived at the Petit Jean State Park CCC camp, in January 1937, an “Enrollee Cumulative Record” report was added to his file. This personal record was compiled by the district Education Advisor; notations and evaluations were made on the courses George took (Journalism) and taught (Art).  Accounts of his previous education, employment and family background were included. The entries are not in Georges’ handwriting, nor did he sign off on them. The specifics noted were in all likelihood provided by George during the three interviews with the camp Educational Advisor.

Several discrepancies and embellishments emerge…Snyder was older, by decades, than everyone at the Petit Jean camp, including the advisor… entries for his birthdate, education and other milestones span years that do not compute; if believed this accounting would make him 37 years old when he graduated elementary school  in Iowa.…decades are compressed in this biographical profile…the information for his father  agrees with previous records but, a curious name is provided for his deceased mother:  “Jessebell”.

During the 1930’s, Nettie found employment as a sales clerk and continued to live alone in the Lincoln, Nebraska home; she remained there until her death in September 1941, at the age of 79 years.

During the following year the house stood vacant and then Georges’ older brother Frank, who appears to be the last of his living siblings, died. Sometime after this George and Carrie left Arkansas and chicken farming … they moved into the South 21st Street Lincoln house… here George found the means to continue with his painting; they made Nebraska their new home.

Although George did not advertise or have a phone he would again have had the space to set up a home studio, perhaps he found a market for his landscapes and decorative talents. World War II had ended, America was now the most powerful nation; the economy was rebounding …conceivably George had found stability.

As George entered his 79th year he still identified himself as an artist and was designated as one in the Lincoln Nebraska Community Directory for 1951 on page 522:

 “SNYDER, Geo G (Carrie L) artist h 427 S 21st

This directory entry is the last reference found for George.

Lincoln Directories After 1951 George and Carrie L. , who was now using variations of her middle name (Luettie, Luetti and Louella), are not recorded as living together in Lincoln or anywhere else. The house, that had been in the Snyder family for almost seven decades, was rented for a couple of years and then stood vacant from 1955 -1959, when (Carrie) Mrs. Luetti Snyder returned. For the next four years she lived in the Snyder house on South 21st Street… she was alone.

Her listing reappears in 1967, living in an apartment on “O” Street:
Louella Snyder (wid George G.)

This 1950 and 1960’s era would usher in the age of McCarthyism, the Cold War and anti-communistic attitudes that were, at best, dismissive of art from the 1930’s. Ironically, around this period renovations were made to the Department of Agriculture building in Washington DC.  The facelift would purge from the walls decorative pieces from the New Deal, paintings that were on permanent loan; art that was meant to bring culture and beauty  to the people and serve as decoration to taxpayer funded government buildings. Among the art discarded were oils depicting one of the greatest conservation movements in American history, the Civilian Conservation Corps.

The story is told that among the restoration cast-offs were the 1937 landscapes created by CCC Artist G. G. Snyder: ”View from  Lodge” and “Section of Lodge” … it’s said they were found outside the building, in a dumpster and salvaged by one of the construction crew.

View from Lodge - Mather Lodge Petit Jean State ParkView from Lodge - Mather Lodge Petit Jean State Park 

These historic CCC New Deal art treasures have returned home to the Ozarks they depict. Once again, they will bring beauty and art to the people; in addition, their backstory will make interesting conversation as they grace the wall of the newly renovated Mather Lodge, built by the CCC enrollees, at Petit Jean State Park in Morrilton, Arkansas.


Endnotes: Researching G. G. Snyder’s’ final years has been challenging, it’s still unknown when and where he died but assumed it was between 1951 – 1959. Being self-employed he was exempt from enrolling in the Social Security program that began in 1935.
Many thanks to Scott C., Reference Services, Bennett Martin Public Library, Lincoln, NE for researching the City Directories. Records obtained from the following sources completed the story of the G.G. Snyder years:  National Archives Records Administration (NARA), College Park, Maryland;  CCC camp inspection reports, Petit Jean and Devils Den Forest Service Narrative and Project reports. Personal CCC artist file of George Gordon Snyder found at the NARA – Civilian Personnel Records Center, St. Louis, Missouri; Photographs from Forest Service reports, US Census Records, City of Lincoln Nebraska City Directories, Library of Congress. The image of the City Directory for Nebraska spans decades and has been composited to demonstrate the timeline of the Snyder family residency.  Every attempt has been made to present an accurate and factual record of the life of CCC artist, George Gordon Snyder and his CCC art.                   Kathleen Duxbury, June 24, 2013


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By the time the 1934 New Deal CCC artist program commenced George Gordon Snyder, born September 10, 1873 in Charles City, Iowa,  was once again an unemployed artist. George was into his 60’s when he put pen to paper and signed the official CCC  “OATH OF ENROLLMENT“.  He was older than President Franklin Delano Roosevelt […]

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