A Beer Party and Watermelon: The Archaeology of Community and Resistance at CCC Camp Zigzag, Company 928, Zigzag, Oregon, 1933-1942
Portland State University. Department of Anthropology
Date of Publication
Master of Arts (M.A.) in Anthropology
Civilian Conservation Corps (U.S.). Company 928 (Zigzag, Or.) -- History, New Deal (1933-1939) -- Oregon -- History
1 online resource (2, vi, 149 pages)
In March 1933, the administration of United States President Franklin D. Roosevelt initiated a national relief program aimed at alleviating the disastrous effects ofthe Great Depression. The Civilian Conservation Corp (CCC) began as one of these programs designed to employ young men from all over the country and put them "back to work". The CCC provided these young men with training, a monthly stipend, and basic supplies such as food, clothing, and accommodations. After 1942, CCC camps were closed and many of these sites were abandoned or destroyed, leaving little historical documentation as to the experiences ofthe people involved. This project revolves around the archaeological investigations and data recovery of a CCC camp that was in operation from 1933-1942 in Zigzag, Oregon.
This research analyzes the remains of the camp in order to gain further knowledge about this important period in American history, and more specifically, Oregon history. In assessing the material culture left behind, combined with the historical documents and oral history interviews, the goal of this project was to expand the historical and archaeological narrative of the CCC experience. More specifically, the aim of this research was to reveal the unwritten record of CCC camp life in a pivotal period of American history.
The results of the historical archaeological research indicates that Camp Zigzag represents a community that participated in resistance related activities, such as drinking alcohol on camp property, but one that also adhered to the regulations of camp policy. Military-style order and training permeated even the surrounding architectural environment. The rituals of daily life in the structured order of the camp appear to have developed and formulated a strong sense of cohesion among the men. However, resistance-related items, such as alcohol bottles, suggest that Camp Zigzag enrollees resisted the authoritarian dynamic of the camp. Social drinking would have provided the men with a sense of solidarity and commonality that would have been maintained beyond the ideals of camp uniformity. This communal familiarity may have influenced the men's behaviour in daily camp routines, rituals, and work. Overall, the archaeological evidence depicts the Camp Zigzag community as united through the bonds of formality and in its resistance to it.
Camp Zigzag offered a unique and unusually expansive window into not only the history of Oregon State, but into the history of our nation as a whole. The camp's archaeological assemblage remains as an important learning tool and its value far exceeds the humble nature of its material contents. It is a collection of untold stories representing the lives of young men and their families at a tumultuous turning point in American history.
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Tuck, Janna Beth, "A Beer Party and Watermelon: The Archaeology of Community and Resistance at CCC Camp Zigzag, Company 928, Zigzag, Oregon, 1933-1942" (2010). Dissertations and Theses. Paper 3955.
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