All ETDs from UAB

Advisory Committee Chair

Robert G Corley

Advisory Committee Members

Colin J Davis

Pamela S King

Andre J Millard

Document Type

Thesis

Date of Award

2012

Degree Name by School

Master of Arts (MA) College of Arts and Sciences

Abstract

This work focuses on the history of subsistence homesteads built by the federal government in the 1930s. The homesteads were routinely referred to as "experiments." It is the intention of this author to examine the Jefferson County homesteads as successful or unsuccessful homesteads. Current research on this topic is sparse. The research contained in this thesis rests mainly on primary sources and focuses on the construction of the homes and the economic and social issues surrounding the homesteads. A brief synopsis of the condition of each of the Alabama homesteads is also included. This subsistence homestead program emerged from the "back-to-the-earth" and "back-to-the-farm" movements popularized in the first half of the twentieth century. The movement resulted from the devastating effects of the Great Depression. The basic goal of the subsistence homesteads was to provide shelter and employment for the nation's most destitute areas while subsidizing income with farming or gardening. The South proved to be instrumental in the success of the subsistence homestead projects. As the federal government aided relief to the South, a series of social and economic experiments occurred. The subsistence homesteads were a small part of the New Deal experiments, but it is the objective of this thesis to prove the Jefferson County homesteads were successful nonetheless.

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