Making Homes

"No Lights, No Water, No Privy"

Families made homes wherever they could and out of whatever materials were available.

Some workers took advantage of temporary shelters or tent camps provided by government relief programs after 1940, while others were able to access housing provided by employers.

Hastily constructed, makeshift shelters were common, although migrants usually had to pay weekly rents even for small patches of dirt or underbrush where they could park a car or lay down a pallet.

Even in structures made of burlap sacks, tin, and old boxes—or blankets slung over ropes spanning between palm trees—the new arrivals worked to make the accommodations as comfortable as possible.

Clean water for drinking and bathing was often hard to find, and in many instances the companies and land owners providing space for worker camps would only make water available a few hours a day.

Families cared for each other with what they had and made the best of extremely difficult situations.

Migrant agricultural worker: Canal Point, Florida (1939)

Migrant agricultural worker: Canal Point, Florida (1939)

Image Number: RC02701

Wife of packinghouse worker, migrant from Missouri said "We have never lived like hogs before but we sure does now, it's no different from hog livvin." Canal Point, Florida.

Migrant camp water supply: Belle Glade, Florida (1937)

Migrant camp water supply: Belle Glade, Florida (1937)

Image Number: RC05264a

January, 1937.

Baby being given a shower at a migrant labor camp: Belle Glade, Florida (1941)

Baby being given a shower at a migrant labor camp: Belle Glade, Florida (1941)

Image Number: RC02703

Photographed at the utility building of the Okeechobee Migratory Labor Camp.

Shelter for migrant workers: Belle Glade, Florida (1939)

Shelter for migrant workers: Belle Glade, Florida (1939)

Image Number: RC06662

Migrant packinghouse workers' camp in swamp cane clearing. Housing two families (twelve people) from Tennessee. No lights, no water, no privy. Wash water is hauled from dirty canal, drinking water is hauled from packing house. Belle Glade, Florida.

Tent housing for migrant workers provided the Farm Security Administration: Pahokee, Florida (1943)

Tent housing for migrant workers provided the Farm Security Administration: Pahokee, Florida (1943)

Image Number: RC05163

Houses for migrant workers: Belle Glade, Florida (1939)

Houses for migrant workers: Belle Glade, Florida (1939)

Image Number: RC09677

A single room cabin cost 2 dollars a week and a double room cabin cost 4 dollars. Water had to be hauled.

Interior view of a migrant family dwelling: Winter Haven, Florida (1937)

Interior view of a migrant family dwelling: Winter Haven, Florida (1937)

Image Number: RC18525

Migrant worker and child

Migrant worker and child

Image Number: RC08568

Dwelling for migrant workers

Dwelling for migrant workers

Image Number: RC18524

Family of migrant workers having supper

Family of migrant workers having supper

Image Number: RC18527