JF Ptak Science Books Post 2571
The Negro Transient
I found this article, "The Negro Transient", by Herbert C. Jenkins, in Opportunity, Journal of Negro Life, January 1935, while looking for support material for an F.S.A. publication on immigration of "drought sufferers" and the indigent poor. It is an interesting account of an African-American experience of part of the Dust Bowl, with a number of interesting collections of data and stats for "travelers" in the St. Louis area in 1935. These "travelers" of course were folks who took it hard from the Depression and from the great and dismal drought that killed many American farms throughout the Mid-West and West, and so they hit the road looking for the opportunities that dried up and blew away at home. The new sense of "home" would be defined as anywhere there was work or benefit, which were difficult things to find in the sixth year of the Great Depression.
One of the Roosevelt administration's aid to helping this large population on the move across the country was the 1933 creation of the National Association for Travelers and Transient Service, which was an outgrowth of regional Traveler Aid societies, many of which were formed in the 19th century and focusing their attention on immigrant issues and the poor. The federal program did its level best to provide shelter, food, medical aid, education, and other services to help and even improve the state of the homeless, the poor, and the Dust Bowler--in many cases the widespread assistance to people in need was unprecedented.
The fascinating part of the story in Opportunity was the African American angle on population-in-motion. The author, Herbert C. Jenkins, reports that "The November issue of the Transient, a bi-monthly publication issued by the National Association for Travelers Aid and Transient Service, states that there were 249,975 individuals under care in Federal Transient Bureaus October 15, 1934." And "As in every movement of nation-wide scope Negroes contribute their quota to this transient army. There are no available figures at hand to show the percentage of the number under care in various bureaus, but because of the traditional "last to be hired and first to be fired" policy which exists in industry they doubtless constitute a substantial number of these wanderers." Jenkins proceeds to establish data that gave a peek into the African American part of the issue.