Columbia Communities

sponsored by the Center for Columbia River History

An Oral History of the Crewport Farm Labor Camp

"And do you ask me... how I ended up there? We were in Oklahoma,... Manville, Oklahoma... we had a farm, and we had five years of straight drought... the Depression was still there, it hadn't left us. And we lost five years of crop, right in a row."

Pete Dodd, narrator

The Crewport, Washington Farm Labor Camp was constructed by the Farm Security Administration in the early 1940's, to house migrant farm worker families from the Plains states who were uprooted by the Great Depression and the dust storms of the 1930's.

When it first opened in May, 1941, the camp was known as the Granger Farm Workers Camp, because of its location just two miles north of the City of Granger, Washington. Initially, only white Dust Bowl "refugee" families were housed at the Camp. By the mid-1940's, however, Mexican American migrant farm worker families from the Southwest, mostly from Texas, were also given shelter at Crewport. These migrant farm workers were recruited to the Yakima Valley because of the farm labor shortage caused by World War II.

This web site captures and weaves the history of some the white Dust Bowl and Mexican American migrant families who resided at Crewport during the 1940's through the late 1960's when the Camp was closed. Because there is little written documentation of the history of the community and its families, oral history interviews provided important new information about the Camp and tell its story below. Faculty and students of the Partnership for Rural Improvement and the Chicana/o Studies Program at Yakima Valley Community College (YVCC), Yakima, Washington collected interviews and produced the web site.

The site is co-sponsored by the Center for Columbia River History at Vancouver, Washington with a grant from the U.S. Department of Education. The Project was conceived partly to provide experience learning opportunities for students enrolled in YVCC's Chicana/o Studies Program. The Project's staff also wanted to document the stories of community residents whose history is as important to the nation's past as the stories of "great men" and wars that dominate texts. You are invited to explore this web exhibit to understand more about these families - their hopes, their dreams, and their achievements.