Date of Graduation
In 1933, the New Deal launched its rural poverty program to mitigate suffering and rectify some of the underlying causes of chronic rural poverty. The rural rehabilitation program, which was the New Deal's primary method of assisted low-income commercial farmers, provided low-interest loans and supervision. The rural resettlement and land retirement program resettled families living on submarginal land and converted submarginal farmland to public forestland, game refugees, or recreational parks. Despite the fact that the New Deal's rural poverty program was reorganized several times, and was administered by several different agencies including Federal Emergency Relief Administration, the Resettlement Administration, the Farm Security Administration, and the Bureau of Agricultural Economics, these three programs remained the foundation of the program. The mountainous terrain of West Virginia and the absence of viable economic opportunities complicated the implementation of the rural poverty program. The composition of West Virginia's rural population proved equally troublesome. A large percentage of West Virginia's rural population were not full-time farmers, but were subsistence farmers and rural-industrial workers. Coupled with the dearth of economic opportunities, the composition of West Virginia's rural population caused significant difficulties that forced the federal officials working in West Virginia to modify the rural poverty program. This situation elicited two questions that the rehabilitation officials had great difficulty answering: should we help the subsistence farmers and rural-industrial workers, and if so, how? Federal officials believed that most of these potential clients lacked the resources and skill to benefit from the rural rehabilitation program. Conversely, the program lacked the resources to resettle more than an insignificant number of the families living on submarginal land. This dissertation will examine the efforts of the federal administrators to adapt the rural poverty program to serve West Virginia's rural population.
Cahill, Kevin John, "Fertilizing the weeds: The New Deal's rural poverty program in West Virginia." (1999). Graduate Theses, Dissertations, and Problem Reports. 8560.