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Where is the “Dust Bowl” region?
The Dust Bowl was a huge area covering 400,000 square kilometers in 5 states – the size of 4,000,000 football fields! It includes parts of Texas, Oklahoma, New Mexico, Colorado and Kansas.
People cleared the prairies and grasslands for farming, ripping out the deep-rooted grasses. With no roots to anchor the soil, and without rain, strong winds blew the dry earth away. The government bought back 10 million acres to restore this unique grassland.
Documenting naural disasters
In the 1930s, many photographers worked for the Farm Security Administration, including Marjory Collins, Dorothea Lange, and Marion Post-Wolcott. They became famous for their photos showing how families lived during the Dust Bowl. The photos in the gallery above were taken by three of those photographers:
Dorothea Lange (1895–1965) took amazing pictures of people! She was famous for showing the impact of difficult conditions on individuals. She worked with the government and photographed people who were affected by bad weather and poverty. Her famous photos are a reminder of hard times!
Arthur Rothstein (1915-1985) took 12,500 pictures for the government in the 1930s and 40s. Later, he worked for a photo magazine and taught other photographers and journalists how to take effective pictures.
Russell Lee (1903-1986) was a scientist who married painter Doris Emrick. He took pictures of people who had to leave home during the Dust Bowl, and eventually became a professional photographer. Today many humanitarian agencies use photography to document climate-related and humanitarian crises around the world.
Woody Guthrie’s ballad about a “Dust Bowl Refugee”
In 1940, Woody Guthrie wrote a song that transported listeners to the heart of the Dust Bowl – a time of loss and struggle. He wanted others to know what life was like during this time.
Climate change is forcing people to move
Islands in the ocean are in danger! Water levels are rising, and people may soon have to move to safer locations. Governments and organizations want to build new villages and help the islanders before their homes are under water.
The Horn of Africa has long lacked rain, and temperatures are rising. People have had to leave their homes to find food and water. Some have begun to fight over water, while others are having to leave their homes and flee to other regions.
Want to know more?
Baveye, P. C., Rangel, D., Jacobson, A. R., Laba, M., Darnault, C., Otten, W., … Camargo, F. A. . (2011). From Dust Bowl to Dust Bowl: Soils are Still Very Much a Frontier of Science. Soil Science Society of America Journal, 75(6), 2037–2048. https://doi.org/10.2136/sssaj2011.0145
Floyd, F. (1950). A history of the Dust Bowl. ProQuest Dissertations Publishing.
Gutmann, M. P. (2018). Beyond Social Science History: Population and Environment in the US Great Plains. Social Science History, 42(1), 1–27. https://doi.org/10.1017/ssh.2017.43
Hornbeck, R. (2012). The Enduring Impact of the American Dust Bowl: Short- and Long-Run Adjustments to Environmental Catastrophe. The American Economic Review, 102(4), 1477–1507. https://doi.org/10.1257/aer.102.4.1477
Knapp, A. K., Chen, A., Griffin-Nolan, R. J., Baur, L. E., Carroll, C. J. W., Gray, J. E., … Smith, M. D. (2020). Resolving the Dust Bowl paradox of grassland responses to extreme drought. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences - PNAS, 117(36), 22249–22255. https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1922030117
Lewis, M. E. (1988). The National Grasslands in the old Dust Bowl: A long term evaluation of agricultural adjustment through land use change. ProQuest Dissertations Publishing.
Maher, N. M. (2007). Nature’s New Deal: The Civilian Conservation Corps and the Roots of the American Environmental Movement. New York: Oxford University Press, Incorporated.
Noss, R. F. (n.d.). Natural History of a Forgotten American Grassland. In Forgotten Grasslands of the South (pp. 1–32). Washington, DC: Island Press/Center for Resource Economics. https://doi.org/10.5822/978-1-61091-225-9_1
Rhodes, E. C., Perotto-Baldivieso, H. L., Tanner, E. P., Angerer, J. P., & Fox, W. E. (2023). The Declining Ogallala Aquifer and the Future Role of Rangeland Science on the North American High Plains. Rangeland Ecology & Management, 87(1), 83–96. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.rama.2022.12.002
Richard Seager, Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory of Columbia University: Was the Dust Bowl predictable? http://ocp.ldeo.columbia.edu/res/div/ocp/drought/dustbowl.shtml
Stephens, P. H. (1937). Why the Dust Bowl? Journal of Farm Economics, 19(3), 750–757. https://doi.org/10.2307/1231452
Uekotter, F. (2015). The Meaning of Moving Sand. Towards a Dust Bowl Mythology. Global Environment, 8(2), 349–379. https://doi.org/10.3197/ge.2015.080205
Worster, D. (2004). Dust Bowl: the southern plains in the 1930s. New York: Oxford University Press.
Blinder, C. (2019). The American photo-text, 1930-1960. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press.
Blair, S., & Rosenberg, E. (2012). Trauma and documentary photography of the FSA. Berkeley, Calif: University of California Press.
Finnegan, C. A. (2000). Social Engineering, Visual Politics, and the New Deal: FSA Photography in “Survey Graphic.” Rhetoric & Public Affairs, 3(3), 333–362.
BOOKS, FILMS, ART AND MUSIC ABOUT THE DUST BOWL
Dorrill, L. K. (1998). Picturing the Dirty Thirties: Paintings and prints of the Dust Bowl. ProQuest Dissertations Publishing.
Morris, M. J. (2005). Dust bowl ballads and Okie culture. ProQuest Dissertations Publishing.
Ramsey, D. (2002). The Role of Music in Environmental Education: Lessons from the Cod Fishery Crisis and the Dust Bowl Days. Canadian Journal of Environmental Education, 7(1), 183–183.
Riney-Kehrberg, P., Cunfer, G., Hurt, R. D., & Courtwright, J. (2014). Historians’ Reaction to the Documentary, The Dust Bowl. Iowa State University Digital Repository.
Shindo, C. J. (1992). Voices of the migrant: Democracy and culture in the Dust Bowl works of John Steinbeck, John Ford, and Woody Guthrie. ProQuest Dissertations Publishing.
Smith, J. R. (2007). Making the Cut: Documentary Work in John Ford’s “The Grapes of Wrath.” Literature Film Quarterly, 35(4), 323–329.
Steinbeck, J. (2000). The grapes of wrath. London [et autres: Penguin Books.
The Dust Bowl as Told in American Art https://www.thecollector.com/dust-bowl-disaster-20th-century-american-art/
Gordon, L. (2006). Dorothea Lange: The Photographer as Agricultural Sociologist. The Journal of American History (Bloomington, Ind.), 93(3), 698–727. https://doi.org/10.2307/4486410
Gunderman, R. B. (2020). Advocacy through images: Dorothea Lange. Pediatric Radiology, 50(6), 793–795. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00247-020-04633-0
Lange, D., Levin, H. M., & Taylor, P. S. (1980). Dorothea Lange : farm security administration photographs : 1935-1939 : from the Library of Congress. Glencoe, Ill: Text-Fiche Press.
Marmot, M. (2018). Dorothea Lange’s lens on humanity. The Lancet (British Edition), 392(10147), 547–548. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0140-6736(18)31705-7
Meadows, Rae. (2015). Dorothea Lange and the art of the caption. Contexts (Berkeley, Calif.), 14(4), 66–69. https://doi.org/10.1177/1536504215611899
WOODY GUTHRIE AND HIS BALLADS ABOUT DUST BOWL REFUGEES
Fischer, P. D. (2008). Prophet Singer: The Voice and Vision of Woody Guthrie by Mark Allan Jackson. Journal of Popular Music Studies, 20(4), 451–454. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1533-1598.2008.00177.x
Gatten, J. N. (2014). The Woody Guthrie Centennial Bibliography. Popular Music and Society, 37(4), 464–475. https://doi.org/10.1080/03007766.2013.834749
Suisman, D. (2000). This Land Is Your Land: The Life and Legacy of Woody Guthrie. The Journal of American History, 87(3), 973–977. https://doi.org/10.2307/2675286
CLIMATE MIGRATION IN THE 21ST CENTURY
Byravan, S., & Rajan, S. C. (2022). Cross‐border migration on a warming planet: A policy framework. Wiley Interdisciplinary Reviews. Climate Change, 13(2), e763–n/a. https://doi.org/10.1002/wcc.763
Campbell, J. R. (2014). Climate-Change Migration in the Pacific. The Contemporary Pacific, 26(1), 1–28. https://doi.org/10.1353/cp.2014.0023
Gebeyehu, A. K., Snelder, D., Sonneveld, B., & Abbink, J. (2021). How do agro-pastoralists cope with climate change? The case of the Nyangatom in the Lower Omo Valley of Ethiopia. Journal of Arid Environments, 189, 104485–. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jaridenv.2021.104485
Klöck, C., Klöck, C., & Fink, M. (2019). Dealing with climate change on small islands: towards effective and sustainable adaptation? (C. Klöck & M. Fink, Eds.). Göttingen: Universitätsverlag Göttingen.
McMichael, C., Farbotko, C., Piggott-McKellar, A., Powell, T., & Kitara, M. (2021). Rising seas, immobilities, and translocality in small island states: case studies from Fiji and Tuvalu. Population and Environment, 43(1), 82–107. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11111-021-00378-6
Piggott-McKellar, A., McNamara, K., Nunn, P., & Sekinini, S. (2019). Moving People in a Changing Climate: Lessons from Two Case Studies in Fiji. Social Sciences (Basel), 8(5), 133–. https://doi.org/10.3390/socsci8050133
New York Times. (2021). Postcards from a world on fire. https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2021/12/13/opinion/climate-change-effects-countries.html
United Nations. (2020). Visualisation of sand and duststorms around the world 2008-2018. https://maps.unccd.int/sds/