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The Dust Bowl
Transcript of The Dust Bowl
The Great American Desert
The Great American Desert was an area of dry plains in the mid-western and southern US.
This area was normally very dry, receiving less than 510 mm of rain per year.
It is an area that is prone to long periods of drought.
However, the area can also have several years with elevated wetness.
The region is also known for having high winds.
The Worst of the Dust Storms
Beginning in 1933, the worst of the storms were recorded.
Massive amounts of dust traveled many kilometers, called "black blizzards".
April 14, 1935 is known as "Black Sunday" due to the severity of the storm.
Also known as the "Dirty Thirties"
The dust bowl refers to a period of time when severe dust storms affected 75% of the United States.
It lasted over an 8 year span, from 1931-1939.
The cause was severely impacted by new farming techniques and drought.
Over 7,000 people died.
What was the Dust Bowl?
What caused the Dust Bowl?
The government encouraged farmers to move into the region of the Great American Desert.
A few very rainy years, made farmers think it was suitable for agriculture.
New ideas in farming led them to over plow the earth and dig out its natural grasses, in hopes of increasing their crops.
The original grasses helped keep the soil in place during dry spells.
Very little vegetation grew on its own after it had been farmed.
When the droughts of the 1930's struck, the land was over-processed and much of it was like sand.
With the high winds in the area, this created the massive dust storms that marked the Dust Bowl period.
Dust fell like snow on homes, cars and trees.
This is a short video of the Dust Bowl
U.S. Government Involvement
The great Depression was going on at this time and the impact on the people was made much worse by the storms.
Many people died of dust pneumonia or malnutrition.
People were forced to leave their farms to search for work and to escape the storms.
More than 500 000 Americans were left homeless.
Carloads of hungry, desperate people fled from Nevada, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico and Arkansas.
A mass emigration to other states occurred.
After the Great Depression, some people returned to their original states, but some stayed in their new lives.
To this day, 1 in 8 people living in California are migrants from this time period.
The Impact on Humans
In 1937, President Roosevelt ordered more than 200 million trees to be planted from Canada to Texas, to break the wind, hold water in the soil and keep it in place.
Farmers were educated on better farming practices.
The government even paid farmers extra money to encourage them to try new techniques.
By 1938, the efforts made by the government and farmers reduced the amount of blowing soil by 65%.
Impact on the Economy
Land values changed after the Dust Bowl.
Land was worth much less in areas where the most amount of soil had been displaced, because the land was difficult to cultivate.
New ways of farming were recommended to deal with the problem, but in many cases, stubborn farmers who did not want to try the proper farming techniques were to blame for their poor crops.
Influence on Art Culture
The U.S. hired many photographers, musicians and authors to document the crisis of the dust bowl and the Great Depression.
This helped the careers of many artists, including ;
Photographer Dorothea Lange captured this image of Florence Owens Thompson,
a mother of seven children suffering from the Dust Storm. These images helped bring awareness to the crisis going on in the country.
An author who wrote these two classic novels about the
Dust Bowl and the Great Depression
The music of folk singer Woody Guthrie was influenced by the crisis of the Dust Bowl and the Great Depression.
This album, "Dust Bowl Ballads" was about the dust storms.
Listen to the words of this sample titled
"The Dust Bowl Blues"
This storm swept across the entire Great Plains from Canada to Texas.
It caused much damage and made daytime seem like nighttime.
People could not see more than 1 meter in front of them.