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State Teachers College ut»r&r>

UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF LABOR
WOMEN’S BUREAU
Bulletin No. 185

The Migratory Labor Problem
in Delaware




UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF LABOR
FRANCES PERKINS, Secretary

WOMEN’S BUREAU
MARY ANDERSON, Director

+

The Migratory Labor Problem
in Delaware
By

ARTHUR T. SUTHERLAND

O?

Bulletin

of the

Women’s Bureau,

No. 18S

UNITED STATES
GOVERNMENT PRINTING OFFICE
WASHINGTON : 1941

For sale by the Superintendent of Documents. Washington, D. C.




Price 10 cents




.

CONTENTS
Page

Letter of transmittal_________________________________ _
Salient facts___________________________________
Introductory________ ______________________
Analysis of data reported by canners and camp deputies'""Products on which migrant labor was employed_______
Number and composition of the cannery work force____
Number of persons living in the camps in September 1940
Method by which canners obtained workers_____________
Wage payments for cannery work__________________
Extent of farm work on canners’ farms_____
______
Types of living quarters and facilities furnished___II..”
Analysis of data reported by individual workers ___________
Composition of family groups___________ ________
Age_of the migrants, by sex____________________ III____ I
Residence of the migrant workers_____________ __________
Movements of the migrants, 1939 and 1940____ 11111
Method of obtaining work_____________ _______
Mode of transportation to camp______
_______ _ _
Types of employment in September 1940_____11111111
Earnings and time worked by migrants_______________ _
School children in Delaware labor camps_________ II_____
_
Sex and age_____________________________
School attendance_________________

v

1

2
5
5

6
6

6

7

8
8
12
12
12
13
14
16
17
18
18
22
22
22

TEXT TABLES
Table 1. Age of migrants, by sex and type of group_________ .. _
Table 2. Average earnings per family, year’s and week’s, and" average
worked, by size of family and number of wage earners, 1939 and
Table 3. Average earnings, year’s and week’s, and average weeks' worked"
by sex and by location of camp, 1939 and 1940___________________




nr


.


LETTER OF TRANSMITTAL
United States Department op Labor,
Women’s Bureau,

Washington, February 12, 1941.
I have the honor to transmit our initial study of migratory
labor. This study was made in Delaware at the request of the Dela­
ware Labor Commission, Board of Health, and Unemployment Com­
pensation Commission.
^ The interviews were conducted by Carrie G. Hager and Mary
Turner. The report was written by Arthur T. Sutherland.
Madam:

Respectfully submitted.
Hon. Frances Perkins,
Secretary of Labor.




Mary Anderson,

Director.
v

THE MIGRATORY LABOR PROBLEM IN
DELAWARE
SALIENT FACTS
The migratory workers in Delaware are largely employed in can­
neries or on the nearby farms that supply the canneries with produce.
Eight canneries were found to have camps for migratory workers in
1940 where the workers and their families could live during their stay
in Delaware. The camps generally consisted of one or more frame
buildings divided into single rooms. Beds or bunks with straw were
furnished, the migrants supplying covers, but other furniture or house­
hold equipment usually -was lacking or was of a make-shift character—
rude tables, benches, boxes. Water was supplied by outdoor faucets
and pumps. Many of the families were provided with oil stoves or
brought their own stoves, but practically all camps furnished one or
more stoves under sheds at which the people took their turns. Only
three camps had electric light.
All the migrants were Negroes and included men, women, and
children; the majority traveled in family groups, but a substantial
proportion, roughly about one-fourth, were unattached individuals.
Some groups had come to the Delaware camps as early as June, the
largest numbers, however, arriving in the latter part of July or in
August. Nearly all expected to remain at the camp until the end of
the canning season, in most cases in October.
On the basis of number of persons, the most important States from
which these people had come to the camp were Maryland and Florida,
followed by Virginia, North Carolina, Delaware, and Alabama.
Relatively few had come from seven other southern and eastern States,
one even from the Bahama Islands. Six canners had obtained some
of their migrants through a labor agent or their camp boss; these
people were transported to and from camp in company trucks. The
majority of the migrants, however, had come in private cars, a few
by bus or train.
The employment situation was not very favorable for these migra­
tory workers, being characterized by low cash incomes and much
unemployment. Taking all wage earners together, family members
and individuals without families, earnings in 1939, for the average of
28)4 weeks worked, averaged $6.64 a week, and in the 8 or 9 months of
1940, for the average of 16% weeks worked, week’s earnings averaged
$6.75.




1

THE MIGRATORY LABOR PROBLEM IN
DELAWARE
INTRODUCTORY
Until recent years the extent of and the hazards created by the
migratory labor movements were practically unknown to the general
public and usually were ignored by State and Federal labor, health,
and relief agencies. Since 1930, however, the depression, the droughts,
and the extended use of agricultural machinery have caused an in­
crease in the number of migrants so great that a large proportion of
them have been unable to find sufficient employment to purchase even
the minimum necessities of life. This has forced them., in ever-growing
numbers, to live in unhealthy squatter camps, without money to buy
food and clothing at the barest subsistence level, and has required
them to go to relief agencies already overtaxed by the needs of local
citizens. Consequently their problems have become of vital impor­
tance to the communities into which they move.
The conditions of destitution with which these agricultural migrants
have had to cope, and which have been so poignantly publicized in
recent years, have necessitated both State and Federal agencies to
give increasing attention to the alleviation of their immediate suffer­
ings, particularly to securing nutritious food and adequate housing
and sanitation facilities, and to formulate plans to regulate the migra­
tion of workers considered necessary to seasonal industries, so that
such pressing conditions will not continue to exist.
The hazardous plight of migrants has been excellently described as
follows: “For them and for their families, constant shifting from place
to place sets the patchwork pattern of life. The broken-down car
piled high with meager belongings and the makeshift shanty town are
its symbols. Low wages and long gaps between jobs keep most of
them within the lowest income group in the Nation. At best they
are hardly above the thin edge of distress, without margin for health,
education, or other family needs. Any emergency—illness, added
miles of travel— * * * deprives them even of such public aid as
other families may turn to in times of want.
*******
“Migratory agricultural workers and their families as a group are
not protected under the Social Security Act [nor Federal or State
wage-and-hour laws] for one or both of two reasons: Either they do
not stay in one place long enough to establish the residence required
for public assistance and public welfare and health services; or they
are engaged mainly, in occupations which are specifically excluded from
the insurance [and fair-labor-standards] programs.” 1 2
1 Migratory Labor. A Report to the President by the Interdepartmental Committee to Coordinate
Health and Welfare Activities, July 1940, pp. 1, 15.

2




INTRODUCTORY

3

The large majority of the reports relating to the migratory labor
problem, whether by Federal, State, or private agencies, have been
concerned with conditions in the Far West, Southwest, and “Dustbowl”
areas, where the concentration of the problem has become so intense
that it has threatened a complete break-down in the existing economic
and social standards of those areas; relatively few of the reports men­
tion or describe the migratory problem which exists, and is believed
to be increasing, along the Atlantic seaboard.
However, fragmentary material obtained in a few more or less
superficial surveys indicates that there are significant numbers of
migrant workers and their families, estimated to be in the thousands,
who each year follow the maturing sequence of crops from Florida
north, many traveling as far as Maryland, Delaware, and New
Jersey.
These migratory movements do not form a steady and constant
stream but vary all along the route, with workers joining or leaving
at places where seasonal work is available. Considerable numbers
move only from one State to the next, and it is probable that no great
proportion travel the entire distance from Florida to New Jersey, but
many do go from southern States—Florida, Georgia, the Carolinas—
into Maryland, Delaware, or New Jersey without stopping along the
way.
The vast majority of these migrants are Negroes, and the movement
includes men, women, and children, some traveling as unattached
individuals but many moving as family groups. Most of them are
employed in harvesting the seasonal crops or in the canning and
packing plants that process the crops, but a substantial proportion
find employment also in the seasonal fishing (oyster and crab) and
construction industries for part of the year. The conditions under
which these migrants live and work are known to be comparable to
the distressful situations, described above, relating to other areas.
As a means to determine the scope and the nature of the migratory
problem and to suggest and plan methods whereby the economic and
social distress of these workers could be eliminated, an interstate
conference on migratory labor, sponsored by the labor commissioners
of Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, and Virginia, was held in Balti­
more in February 1940. Representatives of State labor, health,
education, welfare, and agriculture departments, and of several coop­
erating Federal agencies, participated in the conference.
This conference recommended, among many other things, “That an
up-to-date survey of the migratory labor problem, including the actual
needs for migratory labor, be made in each of the four States by the
appropriate agency, or agencies, assisted where necessary by Federal
agencies.” 2
To carry out this recommendation, the Delaware Labor Commission,
Board of Health, and Unemployment Compensation Commission
requested the Women’s Bureau of the United States Department of
Labor to make such a survey in the labor camps operated by Delaware
canning firms, which firms employ about 80 percent of all the migrants
who work in the State.1 *
3
The survey was conducted in September 1940. A total of 14 can­
neries were visited by the Women’s Bureau agents; 8 of them were
1 Proceedings of Interstate Conference on Migratory Labor. Baltimore, Md., February 1940, p. 97.
3Ibid. pp. 22-23.
307013°—41-----2




4

MIGRATORY LABOR PROBLEM IN DELAWARE

found to have camps for migratory workers, and all these were sched­
uled. In 7 camps combined, data were secured for practically twothirds (64 percent) of the migrants. In one large camp only about
two-fifths of the total were scheduled. Effort was made to report on
every child in the camp. All the migrants living in the camps at the
time of the survey were Negroes; many came from nearby States, but
substantial numbers reported that they came from as far as Georgia,
Alabafna, and Florida. Of the 562 persons scheduled by the Women's
Bureau, 69 percent gave southern States (8 such States) as their
permanent residence, 40 percent naming 4 States in the deep South,
chiefly Florida.
The data that form the basis of this report were obtained by the
Bureau’s agents direct from the canners and their camp deputies or
bosses, and by personal interview with individual migrants. The
information requested from the canners related to: Total size and com­
position of the cannery work force; total number of migrants living
in the camp; usual practice of obtaining the workers; usual method
of pay; extent of farm work by members of migrant families in each
case where the canner owned or controlled the producing farm; and
a brief description of the types of living quarters and camp facilities
available to these migrant workers and their families.
Individual migrant workers were interviewed at the camp; the
agents visited them early in the morning before the cannery was
operating or late in the afternoon and evening after the day’s work
was done. In practically every case the information was from mem­
ory, as only an insignificant number had any written records of their
earnings for work done previous to their arrival at the Delaware camp.
Questions were asked concerning: Age and sex of each person inter­
viewed, and relation, age, and sex of other family members in camp;
type of employment at time of the agent’s visit; permanent residence;
method by which they obtained employment; method of transporta­
tion to camp; occupational history of each worker during the year of
1939 and from January up to some time in September 1940. In addi­
tion, the persons interviewed who had children under 16 with them
were asked where the children had attended school last, and whether
they had attended regularly or had lost time because of the family
travels or for other reasons.
When reviewing the analysis of the data reported by the workers,
it must be borne in mind that the figures relating to the occupational
histories are estimates, made orally, by the persons interviewed; in
some cases, when giving the length of time worked, they stated a figure
followed by the term “off and on,” and in relation to earnings, “I
earned about” such and such an amount. However, the agents,
understanding the type of persons whom they were interviewing, were
extremely careful in their questioning, and it is believed that the
figures as presented in this report are reasonably accurate and may
be accepted as indicating the work and earnings of these migrants
during the period covered.




ANALYSIS OF DATA REPORTED BY CANNERS AND
CAMP DEPUTIES
The data reported by the canners do not give a complete picture
of the employment conditions in the canneries, as the questions were
limited to the bringing out of pertinent data relating to the scope and
nature of the migratory labor problem in each plant.
Products on which migrant labor was employed.

Obviously the number of workers employed depends largely on the
number of products canned and the size of the cannery. There were
wide variations in the products canned in the eight firms visited, but
in most cases migratory labor was employed solely in the period when
only one product was canned, or in the period when, with two or more
products being canned, the seasons of the various products over­
lapped. In four of the camps most of the migrants arrived in June
or July, and in four not until August; the migrants expected to remain
at the cannery until anywhere from the 1st of October to about the
1st of November.
Two of the firms visited canned only tomatoes, the season in both
cases lasting from about the second or third week of August to about
the first of October. Two firms canned both peas and lima beans;
peas were packed in the first half of June and lima beans from early
August to late October. One of these firms employed migratory
workers during both seasons, though there was considerable time
between those canning periods when the plant was not operating;
the other had migratory workers only in the lima-bean season, and
a relatively small force, probably consisting of local workers, was
employed on peas.
Three firms each canned three products. In one firm canning peas,
stringless beans, and lima beans there was a short break between the
canning seasons of the products. Some migrants arrived for the
first season, in June, but others did not arrive until July and August.
In another of these firms there was a considerable break between the
packing of peas and that of corn, from the last of June to the middle of
August, but the corn and tomato seasons overlapped. Figures on
the number of employees indicate that many migrant men, though
few or no women, are employed on all three packs. In the third
firm canning three products local labor was employed on the early
asparagus pack, and local labor and migrants worked later on the
corn and the tomato pack, these two canned over much the same
weeks.
The remaining firm put up seven products, and there was over­
lapping from the start of canning operations until the cannery closed
in the fall.
s




6

MIGRATORY LABOR PROBLEM IN DELAWARE

Number and composition of the cannery work force.

In regard to the seasonal work force, canners were asked to estimate
the proportion who were migrant workers and those who were local
people or were brought in from nearby cities or farms. In each case
the migrants were Negroes, but other groups consisted of both white
and colored workers in five canneries and of white workers in three
canneries.
In September 1940 the total force in the 8 canneries numbered about
2,066 workers, 648 men and 1,418 women. As shown in the summary
following, the proportion of the men reported to be migratory workers
varied from 15 to 35 percent in 4 canneries but was 50 percent or more
in 4 canneries. Of the total men employed in all canneries, not far
from one-half (46 percent) were migrants. Less than one-third of
the women employed were migrants; in 5 canneries the proportion
varied from only 10 percent to 35 percent, but it was 50 or 52 percent
in 3 firms.
The numbers of men and women employed in the eight canneries
and the estimated proportions of migratory workers are as follows:
-----Men

:'
Women

.JL

Camp
Number
employed

Percent who
were migrants

Number
employed

Percent who
were migrants

Total........... ................................................

648

46

1,418

32

Camp: A----------- --------------- ----------- -----B______________ ____________ _____
C__________________________ _____
D............................. ............................. .
E............... .................. ......... .................
F_____________ ________ __________
G____________________ _
H.......... .............. ........ ............................

100
20
25
130
48
50
200
75

15
90
15
50
25
50
67
35

300
. 130
85
410
8
100
185
200

20
52
10
25
25
50
50
35

Roughly, the number of migrants employed in the 8 canneries
totaled 300 men and 450 women.
Number of persons living in the camps in September 1940.

The figures concerning the total number of camp inhabitants are
not exact, as in some cases both the canner and the camp deputy or
boss reported that persons were continually arriving and leaving, and
also that they did not attempt to keep a strict count on children, so
that only close estimates were given.
In the 8 camps combined there were approximately 950 migrants;
by camp the number varied from a low of 25 persons in 1 camp to a
high of approximately 250 persons in another. In each of 4 camps
there were over 110 but less than 175 persons; the remaining 2 had
30 and 75 workers.
Method by which canners obtained workers.

The method by which canners obtained their workers also differed
widely among the various firms. In regard to local labor, that is,
housewives, students, industrial and casual workers, and agricultural
workers living nearby, three canners reported that they notified a
few, but that the majority knew when to come in, as they were
familiar with the crops or kept in touch with the firm; three reported
that all local workers called; and two reported that they sent trucks to
the nearby neighborhood or towns to collect them.




DATA REPORTED BY CANNERS

7

There was somewhat more variation in regard to the migrants,
particularly since they were out-of-State workers. Two canners
reported that the migrants just drift in looking for work, or come
because they hear of work at the particular cannery from friends.
One of these reported that many migrants came back year after year.
Another canner reported that they came and applied, but that he sent
a truck out once in order to get 8 or 10 additional men.
Each of the other firms, however, secured workers through an agent,
or their camp boss acted as employment agent. Two firms secured
migrants from Maryland; 1 contracted with a woman who also
supervised the camp, paying $1 for each person collected; the other
sent the camp boss out to gather workers. Both of these sent trucks
to Maryland and transported the workers free of charge; the firms also
send them back by truck at the end of the season. Another firm
bargained with a man and sent out trucks to transport the workers
to and from the camp free of charge; the majority of workers trans­
ported were from Virginia. Another firm had a bargain with a man
in North Carolina, and this firm also sent a truck to transport the
workers to and from the camp, the only charge in this case being a
50-cent ferry charge each way. The remaining firm also secured
migrant workers through an agent, but in this case the agent owned
the truck or trucks used for the transportation of the workers. The
majority of the workers were from Florida and reported that they
paid from $5.50 to $8 for the trip to the Delaware camp.
Wage payments for cannery work.

One firm paid hourly rates to all employees, but seven paid both
piece and time rates. Piece rates were paid for peeling tomatoes
and for sorting beans. The piece rates were as follows:
Peeling tomatoes:
1 firm 4 cents a bucket, amount not reported.
1 firm 4)4 cents for 12 quarts.
1 firm 7 cents for 16 quarts.
1 firm 8 cents a bucket, amount not reported.
Sorting beans:
1 firm 12 cents a 14-quart bucket lima beans.
1 firm 12 cents a 10-quart bucket green beans, 5 cents a 10-quart bucket
white beans, plus 2 cents for green beans if worker stays all season.
1 firm 13 cents for 18 pounds lima beans, plus 2 cents for staying all season.

Hourly rates of pay also differed considerably among the various
firms. Men’s usual hourly rates were:
1
1
1
2
1
1
1

firm 18 to 25 cents.
firm 20 cents, plus 5 cents for staying all season; 30 cents for a few.
firm 24)4 to 30 cents.
firms 25 cents (in 1 the rates were reported by the workers).
firm 30 cents.
firm 30 to 35 cents; few at 40 cents.
firm 30 to 50 cents, average 35 cents.

1
1
1
1
1

firm
firm
firm
firm
firm

Women’s hourly rates of pay were:
20 cents, plus 2)4 cents for staying all season.
20 to 23 cents.
24)4 cents.
25 cents.
25 cents for white women (rate reported by workers).
22 cents for colored women (rate reported by workers).
2 firms 30 cents.
1 firm 30 cents for the majority, 32)4 cents for a few,
40 cents for foreladies.




8

MIGRATORY LABOR PROBLEM IN DELAWARE

In addition to cash wages, the migrant workers were given a room
in the camp without charge. Water, usually outdoor faucets, also
was supplied in each camp. One camp provided electricity and
heat, and one provided electricity in each room, in each case free of
charge. A third canner provided free electricity to part of the
workers. In another camp the boss reported that electricity had
been provided but the wires were torn out by the migrant tenants.
Extent of farm work on canners’ farms.

Five of the canncrs reported that they did not own or control the
farms that supplied them with produce. The other three controlled
the farms, and two of these stated that only men were employed on
farm work; the other reported that men were employed in harvest­
ing asparagus, but that both men and women worked at picking
string beans.
Types of living quarters and facilities furnished.

In general, the living quarters maintained at the camps were the
usual unpainted frame typo of building designed for only temporary
use and not supplied with the sanitary facilities or household equip­
ment ordinarily considered essential. The buildings were arranged
in long rows or in small units grouped closely together; in both types
the buildings were divided into single rooms, each with a door and
usually only one window. In four camps no screens were provided,
and one had an insufficient number, thus constituting a distinct
health hazard, as this was the time of the year when flies are numerous
and annoying.
Sleeping facilities provided consisted usually of built-in beds or
bunks with some straw, the tenants providing their own covers.
Tables and chairs were lacking in most cases, and only crudely made
benches or boxes served as seats.
Drinking water was supplied by outdoor faucets, placed at intervals
through the camp, and obtained from a nearby well or hydrant.
Cooking arrangements generally were inadequate. In one camp each
room was provided with an oil stove for cooking, and in each camp a
few families had their own oil stoves. In seven camps one or more
cook stoves were provided by the employer. These cook stoves were
community affairs and were in open sheds having a roof but in most
cases no sides. The family groups without oil stoves took turns at
cooking and then ate as comfortably as they could at the make-shift
tables or benches.
_ Toilets also were out-of-doors; in some camps they were too few
in number and offensive, but in others they were adequate, clean, and
plainly marked for men and for women. About half the camps had
colored supervisors. County officers were employed in two cases.
One camp employed social workers in the busy season.
The foregoing is a general description of camp facilities, but as the
camps differed in size and in the number and type of tenants, details
for the various places may be of interest. The following paragraphs
give the agents’ description of the camps and their remarks concerning
the various groups of migrants.
Camp A1—This, one of the largest camps, consisted of four long
frame buildings, divided into single rooms, each with two windows.
1 To avoid identification, the camps listed here as A to H are in different order from those listed on page 60-




DATA REPORTED BY CANNERS

9

The buildings were provided with screens at both doors and windows.
There was also a rough porch. Some rooms housed as many as live
or six people, but others only two or three, depending on size of family.
Two large stoves under a long open shed were provided for cooking.
A few families had their own oil stoves. Water was secured from a
faucet in the yard. Outside toilets were provided.
Of the migrants reporting the place of last employment, 15 perceht
had come to this camp from other points in Delaware, 8 percent from
New York or New Jersey, 49 percent from Maryland or Virginia
(chiefly Virginia), and 30 percent from Florida and other far southern
States.
Camp B.—This camp, also a large one, consisted of five long rows
of frame buildings, divided into single rooms. Each room had a door
and one window, some of which were screened. The number of per­
sons to a room varied from two to four or five; in some cases two fami­
lies, or a family and a boarder, or groups of four single women or men,
lived in a room.
Part of one building formed an open shed, under which were four
large stoves where the families did their cooking. Many workers had
their own oil stoves and cooked in their rooms. The company had a
store and sold staples and candy, cigarettes, and soft drinks. The
workers were allowed credit until they earned enough at the cannery
to pay cash.
There were few chairs. The people sat on boxes or baskets and ate
their meals at rough board tables. Water was obtained from hydrants.
Three toilets, respectively for men, for women, and for children, were
provided.
•
A Negro camp boss supervised the camp, assisted by regular men
cleaners. Of workers reporting place of last employment, 6 percent
had come here from Delaware, 5 percent from New York or Penn­
sylvania, 62 percent from Maryland, 8 percent from Virginia, and
f9 percent from Florida or North Carolina, all but one from Florida.
Camp C.—This camp, of medium size, consisted of small un'ts of
frame buildings divided into single rooms. Some rooms had two win­
dows, others one; all were screened.
The camp was not overcrowded; there were from one to four persons
in a room. Electric lights were provided free of charge. For cooking,
the company provided one main stove in a shed; it also supplied some
of the tenants with oil stoves. The workers purchased their food at
a store some distance from camp, but the company operated a small
store, selling candy, cigarettes, and cold drinks.
The toilets, plainly marked for men and for women, were clean.
When work was slack the women made preserves for their own use,
the company furnishing the firewood and all the tomatoes the women
wanted. Nearly all these people—90 percent—came here from
Maryland; only one who reported came from so far south as Virginia.
Camp D.—This camp, also of medium size, consisted of a number of
frame buildings built in small units, well spaced for air and light and
situated in a large yard that was clean and well kept. The buildings
were in fair repair; however, the windows were not screened though
there were many flies. Some of the rooms had electricity. One
building, not divided into rooms, was occupied by a group of single
men. The others were divided into rooms, each occupied by one fam­
ily, varying in size from one to four persons. The camp did not seem
overcrowded.



10

MIGRATORY LABOR PROBLEM IN DELAWARE

Cooking facilities consisted of brick ovens in a 3-sided building. A
few of the families had their own oil stoves. Water was secured from
hydrants placed at intervals through the yard. There were outside
toilets, screened from the other buildings and plainly marked for men
and for women. These were clean and well kept.
Seventy percent of the migrants came here from Florida, 16 percent
from Georgia, the Carolinas, or Alabama, 12 percent from Virginia
or Maryland, and 2 percent from widely separated localities.
Camp E. This camp consisted of two buildings, one of frame con­
struction and one of another type. They were close together and
were long narrow buildings, divided into small dark rooms with doors
opening into a narrow central corridor. Each room had one small
unscreened window. The camp was dirty and flies were a nuisance.
From one to three or four people, never more than one family, lived
in a room; they did their cooking there also, as the company furnished
an oil stove to each. There were no outside stoves.
Toilets were near the buildings. They were plainly marked for men
and for women, but were not clean.
Forty-two percent of the migrants came here from Maryland, 36
percent from Virginia, 13 percent from North Carolina or Florida, and
only 8 percent from New Jersey or Delaware.
Campi F.—The several frame buildings of this camp were in small
units fairly close together. They were divided into single rooms; no
screens were provided, and the flies were bad. The number of per­
sons to a room varied from 3 or 4 to as many as 10; many rooms had 2
families, 1 in the front of the room and 1 in the back, with a
curtain stretched between.
The camp had one main stove out-of-doors under a shelter. Many
of the workers had their own oil stoves with them. Water hydrants
were at convenient intervals through the yard. The women com­
plained that the toilets, located nearby, were dirty and offensive.
About 41 percent of the migrants came from Florida or Alabama, in
equal numbers, 31 percent came from Maryland and 16 percent from
Virginia, and 11 percent from other southern States. One worker
came here from Massachusetts.
Camp G.~This camp consisted of a long, roughly built 2-story
frame building divided into single rooms. There were only two or
three persons to a room, as this was a poor season and at no time do
they try to have many migrants. There were no screens in the
windows.
One room was set aside as a community kitchen, with a large stove
and a rough table. The workers complained of this, because some
had to wait a long time for their turn at the stove. A couple of
families had their own oil stoves. Water for drinking and washing
was obtained from a well in the cannery yard about 200 feet away.
The toilets were of the roughly-built outside type.
The agent who collected the workers was given the privilege of
running a commissary at the camp. He sold soft drinks, cigarettes,
and candy. About a fourth of the migrants (24 percent) had come
to the camp from elsewhere in Delaware, 29 percent from Virginia or
Maryland, and 47 percent from North Carolina or Georgia.
Camp H.—This camp, with comparatively Tew migrants at the time,
had several frame buildings, divided into medium-sized single rooms.
The buildings were in fair repair and had screens in most cases.




DATA REPORTED BY CANKERS

11

The number of persons in a room varied from one to as many as
eight; several rooms contained two families.
Only one outdoor stove was provided, but several tenants had their
own oil stoves. Water taps were placed at convenient places through
the camp. There were outdoor toilets plainly marked for men and
women; these were screened and clean.
Nine-tenths of the workers came to this camp from North Carolina,
the remainder from Virginia.




ANALYSIS OF DATA REPORTED BY INDIVIDUAL
WORKERS
In the 8 camps visited the Bureau’s agents interviewed 299 persons,
including 155 members of family groups representing a total of 418
persons, and 144 individuals traveling alone and referred to in this
report as single persons. Thus the number of persons covered totaled
562, or approximately three-fifths of the 950 estimated by the canners
and camp bosses to be in camp in September 1940. The number of
persons represented on the Bureau’s schedules varied by camp from
17 to 157; the number was less than 50 in each of two other camps and
more than 80 in each of two others. The smallest group scheduled
had 6 families and 2 single persons, in contrast to a total of 42 families
and 38 single persons in the largest.
Composition of family groups.

As the majority of the migrants in the camp were members of fami­
lies, and as each family group lived in 1 room, it is important to know
more about the size of these various groups. Generally they were
small families of only 2 or 3 persons, but, as shown in the summary
following, as many as 10 families consisted of 5 or more persons and
16 were 4-member families. Much the largest group, 88 families,
not far from three-fifths of the total, were 2-mcmber families.
Size of family

>tal_.
2 persons
3 persons
4 persons
5 persons
6 persons
7 persons

Number of
families

Total
persons

___________ 155

418

___________
___________
___________
___________
___________
___________

176
123
64
30
18
7

88
41
16
6
3
1

Unpublished tabulations show that 120 of the 155 family groups
scheduled, including 20 of those with 4 or more members, 33 with 3
members, and 67 with 2 members, were normal families consisting of
husband and wife or of husband, wife, and children. The remaining
family groups were composed as follows: Mother and children; father
and children; sisters; brothers; brother and sister; grandmother and
grandson; mother, son, and grandson; sisters and nephews; and
cousins.
Of the 418 persons in the 155 families, 174 were women, 149 were
men, and 95 were children under 16 years old. Of the 144 persons
traveling as single or individual persons, 67 were women and 77 were
men.
Age of the migrants, by sex.

The 562 persons scheduled were divided almost equally as to sex—
282 males and 280 females—and in broad age groups they differed
little in distribution; for example, the males had 68 and the females
64 persons under 20 years, the males had 134 and the females had 140
at 20 and under 40, and the males had 8Q and the females had 76 at
40 and over. A further break-down of the age groups, however,
12




13

DATA REPORTED BY WORKERS

shown in the following summary, discloses significant differences. Of
the 68 boys under 20 years of age, all but 12 were under 16; whereas
of the 64 girls under 20 years, 25 were 16 or more; among those 20
and under 40 years, the men were almost equally 20 and under 30
years and 30 and under 40, but more than three-fifths of the women
were below 30; while among those of 40 and over, only about onefourth of the men, in contrast to two-fifths of the women, were as
much as 50.
Because of the inclusion of children, the family groups appear to
be younger than the single persons, as many as three-tenths being
under 20 years and less than one-fourth being as old as 40, while only
7 percent of the single persons were less than 20, and 40 percent were
40 years or more.
Table 1.—Age

Sex and type of group

of migrants, by sex and type of group

Total
number
of
migrants

Total. ..................... ..........
Male...____ _______________
Female.___ ________________
Family members
Single persons

562
282
280
418
144

Number whose age was
Under
16 years
95
56
39
95

16, under 20, under 30, under 40, under 50 years
20 years 30 years 40 years 50 years and over
37
12
25
27
10

119
65
54
88
31

155
69
86
109
46

104
59
45
72
32

52
21
31
27
25

Residence of the migrant workers.

Each person interviewed was asked what State he considered his
permanent residence. Of the many who had been traveling for some
years, a few had not returned to their residence in either 1939 or 1940,
but had gone directly to Florida, and a few others had remained in
Delaware or Maryland instead of returning to the South. However,
the majority of these workers had been employed in the State of their
residence at some time in the period covered. The largest proportions
of the migrants, about 25 percent in each case, reported Maryland or
Florida as their State of residence; these were followed by from 11 to
14 percent reporting their State as Georgia, North Carolina, or Vir­
ginia. Less than 5 percent of the total reported any other single
State. The summary following gives the permanent residence of the
migratoiy workers in Delaware camps.
State of residence

Family groups
Number

Total_________ _____ _____
Alabama_________ _
Arkansas____ __
Delaware ____________
Florida_______________
Georgia_____ _ .
Louisiana.......... .........
Maryland_____
___
_
New Jersey. _
.
New York___ ____
North Carolina___ ...
Pennsylvania...................
South Carolina. __ __________
Virginia______________
West Virginia____
____ _
Bahama Islands___ _ _




Persons

116
36

110

18
20

48

Single per­
sons

14

MIGRATORY LABOR PROBLEM IN DELAWARE

Movements of the migrants, 1939 and 1940.

Considering these people as a group, their migrations were extremely
complicated. The majority of those found in the Delaware camps do
not appear to be connected with the groups of seasonal migrants who
start their trek in Florida and follow the crop harvests north. Rather,
most of the people had come direct to the Delaware camp from their
home State, even when such State was Florida, Georgia, or Alabama.
Very nearly all the people who claimed Maryland as their residence
moved only in these two States, that is, from Maryland to Delaware
and return.
A small proportion of the migrants interviewed may be considered
as the truly seasonal migrant, travel histories for 1939 such as the
following being not unusual:
Florida—North Carolina—New Jersey'—North Carolina—Florida.
Florida—North Carolina—Virginia—Florida.
Florida—Virginia—New Jersey—Delaware—Florida.
Florida—Virginia—Maryland—Delaware—Florida.
Florida—Virginia—Delaware—Florida.
North Carolina—Virginia—Delaware—North Carolina.

However, the proportion of migrants who moved along with the
crops, working in each of the coast States on the way, is surprisingly
low. Possible reasons may be the type of work, that is, cannery as
well as farm work in Delaware, and also the fact that some seasonal
work is available in Delaware as early as June and July, or a period
corresponding to that when seasonal work is available also in the
more southern States.
On the other hand, the proportion of the people who were in camp
in 1940 but who had not moved out of their home State in 1939 was
very striking; and it appears that the turn-over of individuals, at
least between 1939 and 1940, was extremely high.
As many as 222 members of 95 family groups and 77 single persons
were in only one State in 1939, most of them in their home State;
this means that more than half of the people in the Delaware camps in
1940 were not part of the migratory movement in 1939. The number
who were in Delaware in 1939 totaled 191 family members and 59
single persons.
The large number who came to camp in 1940 but not in 1939 may be
due in part to three factors: (1) The recruiting practices of the labor
agents who collect the workers, that is, the agents not going to the
same place each year or not securing the same workers. Thirty-six
family groups and 36 single persons not in camp in 1939 reported
that in 1940 they obtained work through the company agent or came
to camp in the company truck; (2) the low earnings in Florida in the
1939-40 winter, caused by lack of work due to the frozen crops, may
have led these workers to migrate in 1940 in order to get work,
whereas in years with good crops migration was not necessary;
and (3) the poor year in Maryland and Virginia oyster fisheries in
1939-40 may have caused many migrants to look for other work to
supplement the earnings received in their usual employments.
If reduced earnings in their usual work led migrants to Delaware
canneries in 1940, the result must have been disappointing to many of
them. Some crops were damaged also in Delaware, and cannery




DATA REPORTED BY WORKERS

15

work was neither plentiful nor steady in 1940. Worker after worker
stated that they had obtained very little work, “only 2 or 3 days in
weeks.” A typical example is presented in the following case history.
Mr. and Mrs. A from Annapolis, Md., a young couple aged 30 and 26 years,
did not migrate from their home in 1939, but in 1940 had joined the migrant group.
Mrs. A did housework by the day throughout 1939. For only about 3 months of
that year was she able to obtain fairly steady employment at rates ranging from
15 to 25 cents an hour; the rest of the time she had only a day’s work now and
then. Her husband shucked oysters or got odd jobs on nearby farms, depending
on the season. Neither of these occupations afforded very full or steady employ­
ment. The combined earnings of this couple for the year 1939 were about
$550. By the middle of March 1940, when the oyster season was about over,
Mr. and Mrs. A decided to go to Delaware, where friends had told them they could
get work picking berries. From that time until interviewed in September, they
had been migrants living in company camps; for 6 weeks they picked berries in
Delaware, then they heard there was work in Virginia grabbling potatoes and for
2 weeks they worked there, then they traveled to Maryland to pick cucumbers for
3 weeks, and next they signed up to go on a company truck to a tomato cannery
in Delaware.. They had been there about 5 weeks at the time of interview.
Mrs. A explained that by moving from one place to the next they had so far
always obtained work but very rarely had the work been full time, with the result
that their combined earnings for the first 9 months of 1940 had amounted to
only about $330, of which Mrs. A had earned approximately $100.

Due to the movements of the workers, it was to be expected that
there would be a discrepancy between the number reporting a par­
ticular State as permanent residence and the number coming from
that State directly to Delaware. From the summary following it is
apparent that the numbers coming to Delaware directly from the
more northern States, Maryland and Virginia, are larger than the
numbers reporting those States as their permanent residence, whereas
the proportions are smaller for North Carolina, Georgia, and Alabama.
There was less difference in the case of Florida because workers went
to Florida for the winter though some other State was their residence.
The summary following shows the last State the migrants had visited
prior to their arrival in Delaware. Several of the family groups were
not traveling as a unit before coming to Delaware, so the family is
counted only once but the individual members are credited to the State
from which they came.
Family groups
State last visited
Number
Total.........................................

...

Alabama__________ __________
Delaware....... .......................
Florida............. ...............
Georgia. _____________________
Maryland.............................
Massachusetts_____ ______
New Jersey... ___ ___________
New York....... ........ ........................
North Carolina______ _____ _____
Pennsylvania _____
South Carolina.................................
Tennessee.......................... ..........
Virginia...................................... ..................
Bahama Islands...................................... _

Persons

Single
persons

155

55

_

1
11
1
1
1
26

57
32
2
65
1

The general direction of the migrations has been given, but it is
important to know also the number of States visited by these people.
If a State was visited more than once in a period, it has been counted




16

MIGRATORY LABOR PROBLEM IN DELAWARE

each time; but a State has not been counted unless the person reported
an actual stop in the State. For example, a movement from Florida
to Delaware and back to Florida is counted as only three States
visited, and the States between these, which were traveled through,
are not counted.
In 1939 as many as 43 members of 16 family groups and 8 single
persons visited either 4 or 5 States, and as many as 145 members of 46
family groups and 53 single persons visited 3 States; many of this
latter group traveled only from their home State to Delaware and
return.
The 1940 record is, of course, not complete, as practically all
expected to leave the camp in October or November. However, the
1940 figures indicate greater movement than those for 1939; crops
were said to be poor “from Florida up,” and crab and fish work also
was slack. All but the few already in Delaware had moved this year,
and less than half the group moved in 1939.
By September 1940, 29 members of family groups and 15 single
persons had been in 4, 5, or 6 States, and as many as 73 family members
and 22 single persons had visited 3 States. The summary following
shows the number of States reported by the migrants as visited in
1939 and from January to September 1940.
1940

1939
Number of States visited

1 ...
2
____ ___________________________________
3 ______________________ _____________________
4 ____ ______________________________ ________
5 .

Family
members
222
8
145
30
13

Single
persons

Family
members

77
5
53
5
3
1

21
295
73
19
7
3

Single
persons
6
101
22
10
4
1

Method of obtaining work.

As many of these people came from distant places, it is interesting to
know how they came to find their way into these Delaware camps,
that is, whether it was an intentional move on their part because
they knew definitely there was work, or whether the move was by
chance.
Though 6 canners reported that an agent was sent out or commis­
sioned to secure migratory workers, only 89 family members and 35
single persons, just over one-fifth of the total, had secured work
through the company man; 9 family members and 7 single persons
had been employed by another branch of the same firm that operated
the Delaware camp in which they were scheduled.
The method of obtaining work probably was more haphazard in the
case of other workers. Eleven family members and 20 single persons
definitely stated that they were “just looking for work” and happened
to ask for work at the cannery. The others reported either that
they had been to the same camp previously—some only once before,
but many regularly for 5, 10, or more years—or that they had heard
of the particular camp from friends or relatives who had been there.




DATA REPORTED BY WORKERS

17

The following description illustrates the more or less haphazard
method of obtaining work, as well as other aspects of migrant em­
ployment.
The B family, whose home is in Florida, heard through other workers with whom
they were picking beans in Florida that there was work to be had in North Caro­
lina picking potatoes. The bean-picking season had yielded so little that Mr.
and Mrs. B had been obliged at the first of the year to take their 14-year-old son
from school to help them. At the end of April they took their other child, a
12-year-old boy, out of school, packed up their belongings, and went to North
Carolina. For about a month all members of the family but the 12-year-old had
employment picking potatoes. Then this job petered out and word got around
that there was similar work to be had in New Jersey. Again the B family packed
up and went to New Jersey for another month’s employment. Potato picking
brought the family only about $60 in 2 months of joint effort, bean picking had
yielded about $70 over a 6-week peri d, and on these jobs there was no supple­
ment in the form of free camps. In New Jersey the family heard of work in
Maryland canneries, so they made their way to the Eastern Shore. But Mrs. B
was the only member of the family who could find a job there. She peeled
tomatoes in two different canneries, earning only about $27 in 2 months’ time as
work was not steady. Then again through fellow workers the news was spread
around that a Delaware cannery had work, and once again the B family, took
to the road, getting a ride with friends by sharing expenses. They had been at
the Delaware cannery about 3 weeks when interviewed and all but the 12-year-old
son were employed. Mrs. B was peeling tomatoes, Mr. B was a general laborer
in the cannery, and the 14-year-old boy was picking tomatoes on a nearby farm.
Their combined earnings for the 3-week period had amounted to about $70.
As Mr. B explained: “We have been following around from one place to another;
we would hear of work, get there, and then couldn’t get any to speak of.”

Mode of transportation to camp.

Few migrant workers earn enough to pay for train or bus fare, so
if the employer does not send out trucks the workers usually manage to
buy second-hand “rattle-traps” or “jalopies.” To save on transpor­
tation costs, they crowd into their cars as many people as can possibly
get in, pile their meager belongings on running boards and fenders,
and off they go.
The means of transportation for approximately half the migrants
interviewed was a private car; only 40 family members and 31 single
persons had come by bus or train, and 139 family members and 53
single persons had come by company truck. Of this latter group, 10
family members and 4 single persons paid a 50-cent ferry charge;
1 single person paid a fare of $3; and 18 family members and 6 single
persons a fare of from $5.50 to $8 for each grown person. The
remaining 111 family members and 42 single persons were transported
to camp free of charge and stated that they expected to go back the
same way at the end of the season. Seventeen family members and
13 single persons reported that they begged rides when moving from
one place to another.
As shown in the following table, there were 99 persons who came in
their own cars; of these, 66 had paid their own gas and other expenses
and 33 had transported others who helped to pay for the gas. As
many as 160 had obtained transportation with someone else; 53 of
these were transported free of charge, but the others helped to pay
for the gas.




18

MIGRATORY LABOR PROBLEM IN DELAWARE
Family groups
Method of transportation
Number

Company truck-----------------------Free__________ __________
Paid fare__________________
Paid ferry charge----------------Bus or train----------------------------Begged rides---------------------- -----Had own car__________________
Paid all expenses----------------Others helped pay for gas------Rode in other car---------------------Free______________________
Shared cost of gas___________
Not reported__________________

55
42
9
4
13
7
32
20
12
45
15
30
3

Persons
139
111
18
10
40
17
96
63
33
119
33
86
7

Single
persons
53
42
7
4
31
13
3
3
41
20
21
3

Types of employment in September 1940.

Of the 469 persons 16 years old and over, that is, of working age
(including 2 who were working at 15 years), only 73 were reported
doing other than cannery work or were not employed at the time of
the interview.
Thirty-four persons were employed at other types of work, as
follows:
6 worked in the camp (cook 3, camp boss 2, laborer 1).
20 were working on nearby farms.
8 were employed outside the camp:
2 were doing housework.
2 were employed in an experiment station.
1 was doing general factory work.
1 was in construction work.
1 was in a restaurant.
1 was doing odd jobs.

There were various reasons why the remaining group, 39 persons,
were not at work, but the largest number, 29, were not employed
because no work was available, or they had arrived only a few days
previously, or no reason was given. Of the other 10 persons 3 were
sick, 1 was too old, 2 were taking care of infants, and 4 were unable
to secure work because they did not have their Social Security card
with them or had no work certificate.
Earnings and time worked by migrants.

The significant expression “low wages and long gaps between jobs”
has been widely used in referring to the work opportunities of migrants,
and it certainly is characteristic of the 1939-40 work histories of these
migrants covered by the survey.
The particular case of the C family that follows is perhaps extreme,
but it points up sharply the low earnings and long gaps in em­
ployment.
The C’s, husband and wife, aged 42 and 35, were tenant farmers in Alabama
in 1939. They got free rent, their vegetables, and about $70 in cash, $10 of
which came from Mrs. C’s employment for 3 weeks as a bean picker. In 1940
Mr. C got odd jobs on farms at $1.50 or $2 a day. This brought in about $50
during the first 6 months of the year, and Mrs. C again earned $10 picking beans.
Then they heard of work in Delaware and took to the road with friends, sharing
the expense of their friends’ car by paying for part of the gas and oil. From
about the middle of June until nearly the middle of September, when they were
interviewed, the C’s had very little work, Mr. C getting 3 weeks picking beans,
Mrs. C a total of 6 weeks at picking and sorting beans. Their combined earnings
in Delaware were $35, making a total of less than $100 for the first 9 months of
1940.




19

DATA REPORTED BY WORKERS

The earnings and time-worked data for 1939 were complete enough
to be tabulated for 404 wage earners, comprising with the non wage
earners a total of 510 persons. For the 8 or 9 months in 1940 (the
survey was made in September), data were secured for 434 wage earn­
ers, comprising with the non wage earners a total of 531 persons.
In the table following the earnings and time worked are tabulated
for families of two or more persons by size of family and number of
wage earners.
Table 2.—Average earnings per family, year’s and week’s, and average weeks worked,

by size of family and number of wage earners, 1939 and 19^0
1989
Average
Average
Number of year’s earn­ week’s
families
earnings
ings per
reporting
per wage
family
earner

Size of family and number of wage earners

2-person family:

Average
weeks
worked
per wage
earner

11
67

421
386
467

10. 59
6.88
8. 20

39.8
28.1
19 0

253
347
426
435

7. 00
6. 27
6. 45
4. 31

36 2
27.7
22 0
25.3

414
220
940

8.40
7.81

24.7
20.0
24.1

1
1
1

6-person family:

26.6
28.3

3
1
2

5-person family:

$6.05
6.11

5
10
1
1

4-person family:

$161
346

4
28
3

3-person family:

250
338
629

8. 33
3.93
6. 55

42.0
24.0

8
73

$83
212

$5. 55
6.45

15.0
16.4

4
25
7

218
225
322

8.21
6. 57
8. 00

26.5
17.1
13.4

2
12
2
1

137
233
246
346

5.07
6. 90
4.42
4. 55

27.0
16.9
18.5
19.0

3
1
2

226
145
485

8.15
4.39
7.40

27.7
11.0
13.1

2
1

196
171

4.72
6. 60

20.8
7.8

19+01

2-person family:
1 wage earner ......... ..................... ....................... __
2 wage earners.______ ________________ _____
3-person family:
1 wage earner _______ _______ _____ _
2 wage earners_ ____________________ ________
3 wage earners__ ____________ _______________
4-person family:
1 wage earner _______ _____ ______ __________
2 wage earners ____________________________ _
3 wage earners_____ _____ ______ __________
4 wage earners _ ____ _____ ____ _____
5-person family:
1 wage earner ______ _____ ________ _________
3 wage earners____________ ______ ___________
5 wage earners. ....... ................................. ...............
6-person family:
2 wage earners.
______________ ________
4 wage earners_______________ _______________
1

From January to various dates in September, according to date of agents’ visit.

The single migrants, as distinct from members of families, had
average earnings in 1939 of $208, averaging, for the 30 weeks worked,
$6.92 a week. In the 8 or 9 months of 1940, in which they averaged
17 weeks of work, these single persons had average earnings of $120,
or $7.18 a week. Taking all wage earners together, family members
and single persons, the earnings in 1939, for the average of 28^ weeks
worked, averaged $6.64 a week; in 1940, for the average of 16% weeks
worked in the incomplete year, week’s earnings averaged $6.75.



20

MIGRATORY LABOR PROBLEM IN DELAWARE

It is apparent that the average week’s earnings were practically
the same in the 2 years—$6.64 and $6.75—and that the average weeks
worked comprised roughly half of the period covered, but slightly
better in the earlier year; that is, of the 12 months reported for 1939,
time worked averaged 6 % months, but of the period in 1940 of January
to various dates in September the average time worked was not quite
4 months.
In 1939 only 12 families of 2 or more persons received as much as
$600 and only 39 earned $400 and under $600. At the other extreme
of the wage scale were 10 families who received less than $100 and
23 families who earned $100 but under $200.
These workers had relatively little employment as well as low wages.
In 1939 the average number of weeks of employment per wage earner
varied from 19 to 42. In 7 of the family groups as classed in the
table the average employment per wage earner was less than 26 weeks,
that is, less than 6 months. The average week’s earnings per wage
earner ranged from $3.67 to $10.59 in the various classes.
There were many variations among families of the same size. One
family of six persons had total year’s earnings of $250 when only one
person worked; another earned $629 when there were three wage
earners but fewer weeks. In six 5-member families the year’s earnings
were $220 for a family with three wage earners at 20 weeks, $414
for three with two wage earners at 25 weeks, and $940 where there
were five wage earners at 24 weeks.
In 1940 only 11 families earned as much as $400 in the 8 or 9 months
and only 63 earned $200 and under $400. The average time worked
per wage earner varied, by family class, from almost 8 to almost 28
weeks. Average week’s earnings per wage earner in 1940, also by
family class, ranged from $4.39 to $8.21; in four family groups as
classed by size and wage earners, week’s earnings averaged less than
$5; in three others as much as $8.
The wage earners were divided almost equally as to sex, but in the
Delaware camps and in all combined the earnings of men and of
women differed traditionally. In 1939 men averaged 4.7 more
weeks of work in camps than women averaged, the figures being
respectively 14.4 weeks and 9.7 weeks, and men’s weekly earnings
averaged $8.01 in contrast to women’s $6.89. In the 8 or 9 months
of 1940 men had averaged 8.1 weeks of work in camps and women had
averaged 5.7 weeks, and men’s earnings had averaged $7.53 a week in
contrast to women’s $5.20. The figures on men’s and women’s
earnings in camps in the various States are as follows:




21

DATA REPORTED Bt WORKERS

Table 3.—Average earnings, year’s and week’s, and average weeks worked, by sex

and by location of camp, 1989 and 19Jfi
Women

Men
Location of employment

Num­ Aver­ Aver­
Num­ Aver­ Aver­
ber re­
Aver­ ber re­
Aver­
age
age
age
age
porting earn­ week’s
porting earn­ week’s
age
age
weeks earn­ ings for
weeks
ings
earn­
earn­ worked
ings in for the earn­ worked ings in
the
ings
ings
camps period
camps period
1939

Total employment in camps...

» 85

$116

$8.01

14.4

194

$67

$6.89

9.7

Employment in Delaware camps_
_
Employment in Maryland camps...
Employment in Virginia camps
Employment in Florida camps....... .

82
5
6
12

92
32
68
131

8.60
5.27
4. 83
7.80

10.6
6.0
14.0
16.8

91
11
4
10

54
34
24
76

7.54
5.07
6.79
5.44

7.2
6.7
3.5
13.9

mo*
Total employment in camps...

i 211

$62

$7. 63

8.1

i 214

$29

$5. 20

5.7

Employment in Delaware camps_
_
Employment in Maryland camps...
Employment in Virginia camps
Employment in Florida camps

208
13
20
12

54
31
26
43

7. 89
6. 72
7.87
4.31

6.8
4.6
3.4
10.1

212
23
15
9

24
21
20
29

5.27
4. 97
6.10
4. 35

4.5
4.2
4.0
6.7

1 Details aggregate more than total because some people worked in more than one State.
2 From January to various dates in September, according to date of agents’ visit.

In 1939 the migrant women averaged only $5.07 a week while in
Maryland camps and only $5.44 a week in Florida, but in Virginia
they averaged $6.79 and in Delaware $7.54. The men’s average
week’s earnings also varied, as follows: $4.83 in Virginia, $5.27 in
Maryland, $7.80 in Florida, and $8.60 in Delaware.
The incomplete figures for 1940 indicate that men’s average week’s
earnings were lower in Florida and Delaware and were higher in
Virginia and Maryland than in 1939; women’s were lower in each
State than in 1939, varying from $4.35 in Florida to $5.27 in Delaware.
Obviously, such irregular and low-paid employment makes it
di Hi cult if not impossible to secure even the barest necessities of life.
An insignificant number of persons reported that they had applied for
relief or W. P. A. work, but several stated that they had lived with
relatives or friends or had been helped by such persons.
The figures make it clear that these workers must be given attention
by State and Federal agencies if they are to have a standard of living
that includes sufficient food and clothing, sanitary housing facilities,
and, probably what they have never had before, adequate medical
treatment.




SCHOOL CHILDREN IN DELAWARE LABOR CAMPS
In the 155 family groups there were only 95 children, and 61 of
these were of school age, that is, 6 and under 16 years. Data relating
to these children are the basis of this section of the report.
The number of family groups with school children totaled 43; each
of 2 families reported 3 children, each of 14 reported 2 children, and
each of 27 reported 1 child.
Sex and age.

Of the 61 children of school age reported, 40 were boys and 21 were
girls. The following summary shows the ages of the 61 children.

Total
6 years...

Girls

Boys

Age

Age

40
__

9 years_____

__
__

...
__

21

5
4
6
3

6
3
1
1

Oirls

Boys

11 years_
_
12 years.........

__ __
..................

16 years..

___

_

3
2
6
6
3
3

3
1
3
1
2

School attendance.

Concerning the schooling of these children, the family member inter­
viewed was asked where they went to school in the 1938-39 and 1939­
40 school years and if they attended regularly. These school children
have been classified according to school attendance, and the ages of
the children in each group will be given in this analysis.
Practically all the persons interviewed stated that they would
remain in camp until the canning season was over, October 1 to 15.
As this is generally from 2 to 4 weeks later than the opening of schools,
it is apparent that the children will miss some school days unless they
attend the Delaware schools.
The first group comprises nine children 6 years old who had not
been to school previously. All of these were to attend school this
year, but they would not start until they left camp, that is, they
would not attend Delaware schools for the last few weeks in camp.
Of this group one was a Delaware resident, two were from Maryland,
one each from Virginia and North Carolina, two from Georgia, and
two from Florida. None expected to leave camp before October.
The second group comprises 6 children who had gone to school
regularly in previous years and who would not miss any school this
fall. Two of these were 8 years old, one was 12, one was 13, and two
were 15. Two of these children, one 13 and one 15, were in a family
that lived in Delaware all year; they were in a camp scheduled before
school opened, but they expected to leave when school began. At
the time of the agent’s visit the 15-year-old boy was picking tomatoes
on a nearby farm. His wages were low, from 50 to 75 cents for a
5-to-6-hour day or $1 to $1.50 for a full day. Work was irregular,
22




23

SCHOOL CHILDREN IN LABOR CAMPS

varying from 2 to 5 days a week. The other children were in camps
visited later in the month, and were already attending school. Two
had attended school in Florida in 1938-39 but had lived continuously
in the Delaware camp since June 1939 and expected to stay this winter.
The other two had started school in Delaware but will transfer to
their permanent residences, Florida and North Carolina, at the end
of the canning season.
The third and largest group includes children who attended school
regularly in previous years, but who will lose some time this year
because of not returning until after school has opened. Many of the
persons interviewed stated that the time between the opening of
school and their departure from camp was too short to have the
children entered in the Delaware school. The person interviewed in
the Alabama family said the two children may enter the Delaware
school, as it had not been decided whether the family would stay in
camp all year or would return to Alabama.
None of these children were working at the time of the visit to the
camp. Five children in two Maryland families had picked berries
after school and on Saturdays in May and June but did not lose any
time at school.
The ages of these 30 children and the States where they attend
school are shown in the following summaiy.
Number

Maryland

North
Carolina

Virginia

Alabama

Florida

Total___
6 years—.
7 years—.
8 years....
9 years__
10 years._.
11 years...
12 years .
13 years .
14 years .
15 years..

The next group is composed of seven children who attended school
but who had been in camp each year until after the canning season
was over and therefore had lost some time each fall. They expected
to do so again this year. Their ages and the States where they attend
school follow:
Age

Number
2
1
1
1
1
1

Pennsyl­
vania

Maryland

1
1
1

Florida
1
1

1
1

The next class comprises two children who lost time from school in
both spring and fall because the family left their winter residence
before school was out and returned after school began. One was a
10-year-old boy who attended a Virginia school each year from
October to May; he was still in the first grade. The other was a
13-year-old girl who attended school in Florida.




24

MIGRATORY LABOR PROBLEM IN DELAWARE

The final group is of seven children who missed school most of the
previous year or who had quit school permanently. These will be
considered individually.
One 8-year-old boy attended school in Virginia only half of the
1938-39 and 1939-40 school years; work was so poor that the family
could not buy clothes for the boy, so he had to stay home in cold
weather.
Two boys, aged 10 and 7, of a Florida family attended school
regularly until November 1939, when work got so bad that the family
had to move to a farm looking for work. As this was 6 miles from the
nearest school, it was too far to send the children.
A 13-year-old boy in a Florida family was taken out of school early
m 1940 when it became necessary to migrate north because work
was poor Two other boys, 13 and 14, of Florida families were taken
out of school late m 1939 because work was so slack that it became
necessary for the boys to help to make a living. The 14-year-old
boy was picking tomatoes on a cannery farm in September- waves
were from $1 to $1.50 for a full day of work.
A 15-year-old girl from a Maryland family left school in May 1940
because she needed clothes and had to go to work to get them.
From this discussion it is apparent that relatively few children
worked, but during the current year the majority of them were obliged
to lose some time from school because the parents were staying in
camp until after the opening of school.
Compared to the large number of families, 155, in the camps visited
the number of children appears small. However, 7 of the persons
interviewed reported that they left their children with relatives or
friends, some remarking that the camps were not places for children
to live in. Each said that the children of school age attended school
regularly. In the winter months these families resided in Maryland
(2) Delaware, Virginia, North Carolina, Louisiana, and Florida,
It was said by the workers that the canners apparently do not
welcome children; that there is always the possibility of illness and
that on account of the child-labor law they want no question as to
whether or not the children work in the cannery.




o