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Hard Work and a Good Deal

Hard Work and a Good Deal

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The Civilian Conservation Corps in Minnesota

Author Barbara W. Sommer

Minnesota Historical Society Press (February 1, 2008)

CCC veterans tell compelling stories of their experiences planting trees, fighting fires, building state parks, and reclaiming pastureland in this collective history of the CCC in Minnesota.


The Civilian Conservation Corps - born out of Franklin D. Roosevelt's New Deal at the height of the Great Depression - supplied jobs to more than 77,000 Minnesotans in need. Their work left a lasting legacy, visible today in Minnesota's thriving forests, state park amenities, and soil conservation practices.

Hundreds of interviews complement oral historian Barbara Sommer's lively text with personal accounts that animate the history of the CCC in Minnesota as camps were created and projects tackled throughout the state. The "boys" look back - often fondly - at this program, which, for many, was their introduction to the workforce and to life away from home.

Accolades for Hard Work and a Good Deal:

Winner of the 2009 Minnesota Book Award in the Minnesota Category
Winner of the 2009 Northeast Minnesota Book Award in the General Nonfiction Category
Winner of the 2009 Award of Merit from the American Association for State and Local History (AASLH)


Author information

Barbara W. Sommer, an oral historian for more than twenty-five years, has served as director or codirector for numerous oral history projects and coauthored related publications. She is a founder of the Oral History Association of Minnesota.

Reviews and news

Reading Group Guide prepared by the Friends of the Saint Paul Public Library

"Sommer's narrative clearly contextualizes the CCC for those unfamiliar with it and skillfully interweaves excerpts from interviews with former CCC enrollees. These voices keep Hard Work lively and add a human dimension to her story. "
Annals of Iowa

"Thanks to Sommer, the words and photographs of a generation of CCC workers bring this history of the land of ten thousand lakes to life."
Natural History Magazine

“This well-researched book captures the Minnesota experience through the very personal voices of ccc veterans. I was fascinated by the unique circumstances surrounding the Native Americans and Blacks who served in Minnesota. A very enjoyable read.”
Robert J. Moore, author of The Civilian Conservation Corps in Arizona’s Rim Country: Working in the Woods

“The oral histories throughout Hard Work and a Good Deal add immeasurably to this readable, thorough contribution to Minnesota history. A generation of young men whose talents could so easily have been lost in the Great Depression describe their hard work as well as the day-to-day life in ccc camps. Well done!”
Victoria Ford, coauthor, The Civilian Conservation Corps in Nevada: From Boys to Men

  • This title is also available at your favorite e-book vendor.
  • 216 pages
  • 75 b&w illustrations, 3 maps
  • 7 x 10 inches
  • ISBN: 9780873516129

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