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Register of the State Emergency Relief Administration (SERA) Records for San Joaquin County, Calif., 1933-1941
MS 103  
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Collection Details
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  • Descriptive Summary
  • Administrative Information
  • Biography
  • Scope and Content

  • Descriptive Summary

    Title: State Emergency Relief Administration (SERA) Records for San Joaquin County, Calif.,
    Date (inclusive): 1933-1941
    Collection number: MS 103
    Creator: State Emergency Relief Administration (SERA), San Joaquin County, Calif.
    Extent: 4 boxes
    Repository: University of the Pacific. Library. Holt-Atherton Department of Special Collections
    Stockton, CA 95211
    Shelf location: For current information on the location of these materials, please consult the library's online catalog.
    Language: English.

    Administrative Information


    Collection is open for research.

    Preferred Citation

    [Identification of item], State Emergency Relief Administration (SERA) Records for San Joaquin County, Calif., MS 103, Holt-Atherton Department of Special Collections, University of the Pacific Library


    In winter 1931, California's economy first began to feel the full impact of nationwide depression. Transient, homeless men became a major problem in the state, and to aid them, Governor Rolph--armed with a budget surplus--had thirty labor camps created where the indigent were housed and fed while they cleared brush and built roads.
    By 1933 California's surplus funds were gone. Newly-elected President Roosevelt soon urged through Congress his Federal Emergency Relief Administration (FERA), which was intended to provide matching funds for relief to the states. These funds were to be administered by State Emergency Relief Administrations. California's new Republican governor, Frank Merriam, supported this concept and, by June, the State Emergency Relief Administration (SERA) was in place. Counties submitted work projects to SERA, which authorized county expenditures on the projects then reimbursed the county governments after they had paid workers for their labor.
    Later that same year, the U.S. Congress created the Civil Works Administration (CWA) which also provided work relief for California's indigent. The CWA focussed on larger public works projects, paying more than 150,000 citizens to build bridges, schools, airports and other public structures.
    Both FERA and CWA were superseded in 1935 by the Works Progress Administration (WPA). The WPA took over many San Joaquin county projects that were begun by SERA, but the latter continued to operate--presumably on state and local funds alone--through 1941.
    SERA ultimately sponsored more than one hundred projects in San Joaquin county. These included road work, construction at the County Fairgrounds and the County General Hospital, and agricultural pest control. The agency also provided numerous county agencies with clerical assistance, operated camps for indigent workers, and distributed food and fuel to the needy.
    The State Emergency Relief Administration records for San Joaquin county contain project applications, correspondence, and reports. Because project numbering varies from year to year, papers relating to specific project proposals are arranged by project proposal date.

    Scope and Content

    1.6 linear ft., four boxes, arranged chronologically.
    Consists of correspondence, memos, resolutions, and project applications largely generated by San Joaquin County, Calif. Board of Supervisors, R.C. Branion, Director, State Emergency Relief Board and Harry L. Hopkins, Director, Civil Works Administration. Box 1 contains records for 1932-1934. Box 2 contains records for 1934. Box 3 contains records for 1935. Box 4 contains records for 1936-1941.