Arvin Farm Labor Center (Weedpatch Camp) – Bakersfield CA

Description

The Resettlement Administration built this camp for migrant farm labor, and it is still in use.

“Camps would be constructed to provide migratory families with minimum decencies: a healthful site, a pure water supply, sanitary facilities of all kinds, and other simple amenities. Ten to a dozen camps were planned; two were constructed by the Resettlement Administration before it was absorbed into the Farm Security Administration in 1937. One was at Marysville and the other near Weedpatch” (Lowitt, 184).

While writing “The Grapes of Wrath”, John Steinbeck visited Bakersfield, and based his book on the Arvin Farm Labor Camp, which in his book is called “Weedpatch Camp.”

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Source notes

Project submitted by both Douglas Dodd, and by Gail Erwin with the San Joaquin Historical Society and Museum.

Croutch, Albert. Housing Migratory Agricultural Workers in California, 1913-1948. Thesis, UC, 1948. 46-56, 70,71.

Richard Lowitt, The New Deal and the West. (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1984), 184.

www.weedpatchcamp.com

Location Info

8701 Sunset Blvd
Bakersfield, CA 93307

Location notes:

Coordinates: 35.223276, -118.907499

8 comments on “Arvin Farm Labor Center (Weedpatch Camp) – Bakersfield CA

  1. I believe Steinbeck actually called the camp “Wheatpatch,” in the Grapes of Wrath, and not “Weedpatch,” as you stated. My father’s family lived at the camp.

  2. Im excited to know that the camp still stands..I was born in 1956 and my birth cert. says my parents address is Arvin Labor Camp.. I would of never dreamed that I could still go and look the place where I lived when I was a newborn..I would of figured the whole place was gone so I googled it and low and behold it still around.. going out tomorrow to have a look see.. I am very excited to see the place .. I wished my parents could be here to tell me the stories behind living out there and what it was like for them..I don’t know how long we lived there at the time their was five other siblings beside me ..and yes we was some of the OKIE’s that came to live and work and Im Proud of my Heritiage…Looking forward to going tomorrow

  3. Looking for anyone that has 1st account history of this camp for an interview, even if you were a child or have family stories about this camp for a documentary.

  4. I lived in the camp for 14 years, 1977 – 1991, and I remember all my friends and the sunset school. We went walking every day. Wonder years!

  5. I am looking for information on my family who resided in Weedpatch & Bakersfield CA. They migrated west from Arkansas & Oklahoma (Okies) in the 1930s. My Great Grand Pa passed at an early age in 1948 Oregon. I am seeking information on his very large family. Ben Beard & wife Nancy “Nannie” Wallace-Beard. Their children (youngest to oldest) Willis Beard, Opal Jean Curtis (Beard). Most have passed away already but I still desire to connect our family limbs to the tree. Thank You!

  6. We moved to the Arvin Farm Labor camp in 1944 when I was three years old and lived there till I was in High School. My mother was the camp librarian in the building preserved at the camp. My dad worked for the camp under Dewy Russel for several years. My mom was also the school librarian for Sunset School and my dad worked there as a custodian until he retired. Growing up in the camp was a wonderful experience. I didn’t know that we were poor, we raised a big garden and had plenty to eat. I still have my first Social Security Card with our address on it. It say Route 6 Box AFLSC, Arvin, Calif. So the offical name of the camp was the Arvin Farm Labor Supply Center I think! As a kid I watched them build several new buildings at Sunset School in the last 1940′s. I attended Vineland School grades 1-4 (no kindergarden), Sunset School grades 5-8, and Arvin High School grades 9-12. Then I attended Bakersfield Junior College and got my AA degree.
    I had friends who went through all those year with me. Life is good. The camp was a godsend for people like us. We first lived in the circle where the houses wee wooden structures with tent tops and sides, then we moved to two tin cabins with a water facuet in between. Then we moved to the apartments which were two bedrooms upstairs with a bathroom, and a kitchen and living room downstairs. Then we moved into a little two bed room house. As you lived there you could put your name in for better housing. I had lots of friends at the camp and lots of grass lawns to play on. It was a wonderful experience living there and the camp Manager Dewy Russel, did a good job of running the camp. Everyone had to keep there place clean or they would not be able to stay in the camp. Just some memories I thought I would share.

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