Scope and Content
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
University of the Pacific. Library. Holt-Atherton Department of Special Collections
Shelf location: For current information on the location of these
materials, please consult the library's online catalog.
Collection is open for research.
[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Both FERA and CWA were superseded in 1935 by the Works Progress Administration (WPA).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
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.