The Dust Bowl


Kansas Dust Bowl
"Abandoned house, Haskell County, Kansas"
By Irving Rusinow, April 1941
National Archives and Records Administration, Records of the Bureau of Agricultural Economics

Life During the Dust Bowl


Federal Sources

Voices from the Dust Bowl
Voices from the Dust Bowl: The Charles L. Todd and Robert Sonkin Migrant Worker Collection is an online presentation of a multi-format ethnographic field collection documenting the everyday life of residents of Farm Security Administration (FSA) migrant work camps in central California in 1940 and 1941. This collection consists of audio recordings, photographs, manuscript materials, publications, and ephemera and is a part of the Library of Congress American Memory project.
20th Century Drought
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA) created a site using paleoclimatic data, such as studies of tree rings, to study the frequency of past severe droughts in North America and predict the likelihood of such droughts in the future.
NOAA Photo Library
NOAA's Photo Library has an image entitled "Dust" taken in 1938 in the Meteorological Monsters: Dust collection of their Historical National Weather Service - Albums. Another photo, "Dust over Texas," shows a storm cloud over what appears to be a farmstead. This site also has the lyrics to a song by Woody Guthrie entitled, "The Great Dust Storm".
Dust Bowl Migration Archives
A collection of "fifty-seven oral history interviews that developed from the CALIFORNIA ODYSSEY Project's Oral History Program funded in 1980 by the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH). The interviews focus on residents who migrated to the San Joaquin Valley from Oklahoma, Arkansas, Missouri, and Kansas between 1924 and 1939." Also has FSA (Farm Security Administration) photographs.
The Plow That Broke the Plains
A 25-minute documentary produced in 1936 for the Farm Security Administration to justify New Deal programs that aided farmers hit hard by the Dust Bowl. Contains compelling, historical video clips of the devastation.

Texas Sources

The Handbook of Texas Online: Dust Bowl
In depth article, with bibliography, on the weather and market forces that combined to create the Dust Bowl in Texas and the U.S. government response to the problem. At its height, the bowl covered 100 million acres of the southern plains.

Additional Sources

Report of the Great Plains Drought Area Committee
From the New Deal Network organization. This 1936 document discusses the events that led to the occurrence of the Dust Bowl and was submitted to President Franklin D. Roosevelt.
Surviving the Dust Bowl
PBS Online has an interactive site for its American Experience show "Surviving the Dust Bowl." Watch the entire film or link to special features that include a timeline and a photo gallery from an eyewitness account of a Kansas farmer. "Dust Bowl Days" lesson plans for students in grades 3-5 available from the National Endowment for the Humanities. Refresh main web page to see a rotating display of special features.
Dust Storms and Their Damage
The Wind Erosion Unit of the U.S. Department of Agriculture at Kansas State University has their archive of dust storm photographs online.
Is the Dust Bowl Returning?
Discussion of the current drought conditions in Oklahoma and comparisons with the 1930s.
Postcards of the Dust Bowl
Postcards sent from Kansas showing the dust storms moving in.
Dust Bowl
Collection of photographs from a variety of sources taken during the dust storms of the 1930s.
Dust Bowl References
Short bibliography of Dust Bowl books, articles, and Web links.

Wind Erosion and Drought


Federal Sources

What is Drought?
Extensive site, from the National Drought Mitigation Center at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, describing drought and how to plan for, monitor, and mitigate it. Includes sections on Drought in the Dust Bowl Years and Historical Maps of the Palmer Drought Index.
An Introduction to Wind Erosion Control
Recommendations from the Alberta (Canada) Agriculture, Food and Rural Development Department on controlling wind erosion.
U.S. Drought Monitor
The National Drought Mitigation Center displays maps that show current drought situations in the U.S.
Wind Erosion & Water Conservation (USDA)
Agriculture Department unit, located in Lubbock and Big Spring, which "conducts applied and fundamental research on the causes and consequences of wind-induced soil erosion, and the interactions of plants with the soil and atmosphere; to develop wind erosion mitigation strategies and water management strategies that alleviate, delay, or moderate the impact of drought and thermal stress on crop production."
Wind Erosion Research Unit
The USDA-ARS Wind Erosion Laboratory at Kansas State University "serves as a focal point for wind erosion research in the United States." WERU studies wind erosion and develops prevention strategies.
Operational Significant Event Imagery: A History (NOAA)
Includes archived satellite images of dust storms in regions of the U.S. and across the world.

Texas Sources

Texas Drought Preparedness Council
The Governor's Division of Emergency Management advisory council which coordinates drought preparedness resources. Includes Situation Reports, a link to the Keetch-Byram Drought Index, and a link to create drought condition maps.
AgriLife News
Links to news from Texas A&M AgriLife. Can search the word drought for recent articles.
Texas Water Development Board: Drought in Texas
Includes links to information about drought, drought monitoring, outlook and historical data, water-saving tips, and other drought resources.

Woody Guthrie

Official Woody Guthrie Website
Includes biography, discography, filmography, archival finding aids, etc. Selected images are available, such as the drawing "Amarillo Dust Storm" and an original draft of Guthrie's lyrics for The Great Dust Storm (written after his experience in Pampa, Texas).
Woody Guthrie: Dustbowl Balladeer
From This Land is Your Land: Rural Music & the Depression at the American Studies Department of the University of Virginia.