Gilbert F. White
Q: And then he asked you to work on the Mississippi Valley Committee. What
kind of work did you do for Professor Barrows on the committee.
A: The committee was established by Harold Ickes and Colonel Henry Waite,
who was the deputy director of PWA [Public Works Administration], because
following the establishment of PWA they had been deluged with projects for
water management, chiefly for the Mississippi Valley. And Waite and Ickes
began to have questions as to how one Mississippi Valley project related to
There was, as you know, a series of reports that the Corps of Engineers had
begun to prepare under Section 308 of the earlier Flood Control Act [1927
River and Harbor Act]. But in addition to those reports, the first of which
was on the Tennessee River, there were numbers of projects that were
beginning to emerge from the Corps' studies, from Bureau of Reclamation
studies, and from some state agencies.
As I heard the explanation, Waite said he'd like to have someone tell him how
these various proposals fitted together, the extent to which they raised
common problems of policy, and the extent to which what was being proposed
in the near future with PWA financing would assist or work against what
might be considered a long-term plan. He appointed a group to prepare a
report to be presented some time in 1934. The members of the committee
divided up the task of writing the report. Barrows had the responsibility for
writing a section on the Missouri Basin. Sherman M. Woodward, who had
headed the Hydraulics Lab at the University of Iowa, was given responsibility
for the lower Mississippi. I found myself digging up information, preparing
syntheses of available reports, and doing some field collection of data through
state agencies and in offices of the Bureau of Reclamation and the Corps of
Engineers. The other members were Herbert S. Crocker, Glen E. Edgerton
(Edgerton frequently represented Markham), Henry S. Graves, Edward M.
Markham, Charles H. Paul, and Harlow S. Person.
So in the months from March on in 1934 I very quickly gained a firsthand
acquaintance with the District offices of the Corps of Engineers in the
Missouri and lower Mississippi areas and visited Vicksburg and New Orleans.
I generally collected data which Barrows and Woodward used in preparing
their sections of the Mississippi Valley Committee report.