Cotton goods were later included, to clothe the needy. Waves of European settlers arrived in the plains at the beginning of the 20th century. In 1935, many families were forced to leave their farms and travel to other areas seeking work because of the drought (which at that time had already lasted four years). Aside from the short-term economic consequences caused by erosion, there were severe long-term economic consequences caused by the Dust Bowl. This picture expressed the struggles of people caught by the Dust Bowl and raised awareness in other parts of the country of its reach and human cost. The 2014 science fiction film Interstellar features a ravaged 21st-century America which is again scoured by dust storms (caused by a worldwide pathogen affecting all crops). The budget game worksheets can be printed via the link below. The region is also subject to high winds. About one-eighth of California's population is of Okie heritage. To stabilize prices, the government paid farmers and ordered more than six million pigs to be slaughtered. So many families left their farms and were on the move that the proportion between migrants and residents was nearly equal in the Great Plains states. Artists such as Dorothea Lange were aided by having salaried work during the Depression. During the Depression and through at least the 1950s, there was limited relative adjustment of farmland away from activities that became less productive in more-eroded counties. "The government cattle buying program was a blessing to many farmers, as they could not afford to keep their cattle, and the government paid a better price than they could obtain in local markets."[40]. In 1941, a Kansas agricultural experiment station released a bulletin that suggested reestablishing native grasses by the "hay method". More than 350 houses had to be torn down after one storm alone. Based on a 1939 survey of occupation by the Bureau of Agricultural Economics of about 116,000 families who arrived in California in the 1930s, he learned that only 43 percent of southwesterners were doing farm work immediately before they migrated. In highly eroded areas, less than 25% of the original agricultural losses were recovered. While the term "the Dust Bowl" was originally a reference to the geographical area affected by the dust, today it usually refers to the event itself (the term "Dirty Thirties" is also sometimes used). The federal government encouraged settlement and development of the Plains for agriculture via the Homestead Act of 1862, offering settlers ”quarter section” 160-acre (65 ha) plots. If there had been no Government program, if the old order had obtained in 1933 and 1934, that drought on the cattle ranges of America and in the corn belt would have resulted in the marketing of thin cattle, immature hogs and the death of these animals on the range and on the farm, and if the old order had been in effect those years, we would have had a vastly greater shortage than we face today. In the fall of 1939, after nearly a decade of dirt and dust, the drought ended when regular rainfall finally returned to the region. The Dust Bowl The Dust Bowl, or the Dirty Thirties, was a period of severe dust storms causing major ecological and agricultural damage to American and Canadian Prairie lands from 1930 to 1936 (in some areas until 1940). After fairly favorable climatic conditions in the 1920s with good rainfall and relatively moderate winters,[15] which permitted increased settlement and cultivation in the Great Plains, the region entered an unusually dry era in the summer of 1930. [33] Migrants abandoned farms in Oklahoma, Arkansas, Missouri, Iowa, Nebraska, Kansas, Texas, Colorado, and New Mexico, but were often generally referred to as "Okies", "Arkies", or "Texies". The Great Plains were opened to farming by new devices such as the steel plow. Between 1930 and 1940, approximately 3.5 million people moved out of the Plains states; of those, it is unknown how many moved to California. In many regions, more than 75% of the topsoil was blown away by the end of the 1930s. [20] The persistent dry weather caused crops to fail, leaving the plowed fields exposed to wind erosion. President Roosevelt started the ‘Shelterbelt Project’ which proposed planting trees across the Great Plains region in hopes of preventing future erosion(‘Dust Bowl’). Let me make one other point clear for the benefit of the millions in cities who have to buy meats. Here are some interesting facts about the Dust Bowl: •In 1932, there were 14 dust storms recorded on the Plains (an area that included the panhandle of Oklahoma and Texas, southwest Kansas, southeastern Colorado, and Nebraska). These choking billows of dust – named "black blizzards" or "black rollers" – traveled cross country, reaching as far as the East Coast and striking such cities as New York City and Washington, D.C. On the plains, they often reduced visibility to 3 feet (1 m) or less. President Roosevelt ordered the Civilian Conservation Corps to plant the Great Plains Shelterbelt, a huge belt of more than 200 million trees from Canada to Abilene, Texas to break the wind, hold water in the soil, and hold the soil itself in place. The Dust Bowl was a 10-year drought and heat wave that destroyed midwest crops in the 1930s. Dust Bowl and the Great Depression . The Dust Bowl drought of the 1930s was one of the worst environmental disasters of the Twentieth Century anywhere in the world. During the drought of the 1930s, without natural anchors to keep the soil in place, it dried, turned to dust, and… The Great Depression, the Dust Bowl, and New Deal in Oklahoma What was the Dust Bowl? At the end of the drought, the programs which were implemented during these tough times helped to sustain a positive relationship between America's farmers and the federal government.[43]. [54], In 2017, Americana recording artist Grant Maloy Smith released the album Dust Bowl – American Stories, which was inspired by the history of the Dust Bowl. The Dust Bowl was a period of severe dust storms that greatly damaged the ecology and agriculture of the American and Canadian prairies during the 1930s; severe drought and a failure to apply dryland farming methods to prevent the aeolian processes (wind erosion) caused the phenomenon. [55] In a review, the music magazine No Depression wrote that the album's lyrics and music are "as potent as Woody Guthrie, as intense as John Trudell and dusted with the trials and tribulations of Tom Joad – Steinbeck and The Grapes of Wrath. United States. Under the law, "benefit payments were continued as measures for production control and income support, but they were now financed by direct Congressional appropriations and justified as soil conservation measures. The FSRC diverted agricultural commodities to relief organizations. The Act shifted the parity goal from price equality of agricultural commodities and the articles that farmers buy to income equality of farm and non-farm population. https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Dust_Bowl&oldid=992480349, History of agriculture in the United States, Environmental disasters in the United States, 1930 natural disasters in the United States, Wikipedia articles needing page number citations from February 2011, Wikipedia indefinitely semi-protected pages, Wikipedia indefinitely move-protected pages, All Wikipedia articles written in American English, Articles with unsourced statements from May 2015, Wikipedia articles needing clarification from March 2016, All Wikipedia articles needing clarification, Wikipedia articles needing factual verification from March 2016, Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License. To finalize, the Dust Bowl was a very difficult time for many people. written by Lynette Boone, University of Oregon References. Today, the "Bakersfield Sound" describes this blend, which developed after the migrants brought country music to the city. The drought dried the topsoil and over time it became friable, reduced to a powdery consistency in some places. The region is also prone to extended drought, alternating with unusual wetness of equivalent duration. By 1938, the massive conservation effort had reduced the amount of blowing soil by 65%. It paid to have the meat packed and distributed to the poor and hungry. Elevation ranges from 2,500 feet (760 m) in the east to 6,000 feet (1,800 m) at the base of the Rocky Mountains. Developed in 1937 to speed up the process and increase returns from pasture, the "hay method" was originally supposed to occur in Kansas naturally over 25–40 years. The DRS bought cattle in counties which were designated emergency areas, for $14 to $20 a head. The Dust Bowl got its name after dust began to form in the sky and it was a dust storm like a snow storm and it covered houses and caused a depression and people could not grow vegetables or crops and animals began to die off. From 1910 to the 1940s, total farmland increased and remained constant until 1970 when it slightly declined. Recognizing the challenge of cultivating marginal arid land, the United States government expanded on the 160 acres (65 ha) offered under the Homestead Act – granting 640 acres (260 ha) to homesteaders in western Nebraska under the Kinkaid Act (1904) and 320 acres (130 ha) elsewhere in the Great Plains under the Enlarged Homestead Act of 1909. [22], The Dust Bowl exodus was the largest migration in American history within a short period of time. [1], During President Franklin D. Roosevelt's first 100 days in office in 1933, his administration quickly initiated programs to conserve soil and restore the ecological balance of the nation. The Dust Bowl And Hobos The Dust Bowl was caused, in large part, by excessive tillage of the soil. The lack of surface water and timber made the region less attractive than other areas for pioneer settlement and agriculture. To identify areas that needed attention, groups such as the Soil Conservation Service generated detailed soil maps and took photos of the land from the sky. The drought and ecological disaster of the central United States in the 1930s C. The dust from burning firewood D. The growth of shantytowns throughout the nation [45] In addition, profit margins in either animals or hay were still minimal, and farmers had little incentive in the beginning to change their crops. Thompson felt it gave her the perception as a Dust Bowl "Okie. [12][13] An unusually wet period in the Great Plains mistakenly led settlers and the federal government to believe that "rain follows the plow" (a popular phrase among real estate promoters) and that the climate of the region had changed permanently. 3 months ago. Today, farmers use no till equipment, parts, and techniques to increase crop yields and protect the soil from another potential “dust bowl” catastrophe. The soil became so dry that it turned to dust. The Great Depression During the Great Depression more than 11,000 banks failed, unemployment was at an all time high of 25% and over $1 billion in bank deposits were lost Period: 1929 to 1939. After the Great Depression ended, some moved back to their original states. Patrick Allitt recounts how fellow historian Donald Worster responded to his return visit to the Dust Bowl in the mid-1970s when he revisited some of the worst afflicted counties: In contrast with Worster's pessimism, historian Mathew Bonnifield argued that the long-term significance of the Dust Bowl was "the triumph of the human spirit in its capacity to endure and overcome hardships and reverses. It not only caused serious impacts on the environment of the United States, but also worsened the economic conditions after the Great Depression’s destructions in the late 1920s. [25][verification needed], Geographic characteristics and early history, Aggregate changes in agriculture and population on the Plains, borrowing closely from field notes taken by. [10] During wet years, the rich soil provides bountiful agricultural output, but crops fail during dry years. Learn more about this period and its impacts. The Dust Bowl area lies principally west of the 100th meridian on the High Plains, characterized by plains which vary from rolling in the north to flat in the Llano Estacado. Join us for a virtual lesson on the Great Depression and American Dust Bowl! The clouds that appeared … This caused the largest migration in American history. The combined effects of the disruption of the Russian Revolution, which decreased the supply of wheat and other commodity crops, and World War I increased agricultural prices; this demand encouraged farmers to dramatically increase cultivation. The dust storms caused extensive damage and appeared to turn the day to night; witnesses reported that they could not see five feet in front of them at certain points. The government paid reluctant farmers a dollar an acre to practice the new methods. [34], Not all migrants traveled long distances; some simply went to the next town or county. Areas of Kansas, Colorado, Oklahoma, Texas, and … [39], In 1935, the federal government formed a Drought Relief Service (DRS) to coordinate relief activities. Dust Bowl. A cousin of mine wrote a fascinating graduate thesis on the life of my paternal great-grandmother. Different groups took many different approaches to responding to the disaster. It is also a defining moment in American government, politics, culture, economics, and even Oklahoma history. The economy adjusted predominantly through large relative population declines in more-eroded counties, both during the 1930s and through the 1950s.[25]:1500. [19] When severe drought struck the Great Plains region in the 1930s, it resulted in erosion and loss of topsoil because of farming practices at the time. The End Dust Bowl A enormous storm sends millions of tons of soil flying from across the Great Plains of the US all way to New York, Boston and Atlanta. https://www.britannica.com/place/Dust-Bowl. Learn vocabulary, terms, and more with flashcards, games, and other study tools. [28] The severe drought and dust storms had left many homeless; others had their mortgages foreclosed by banks, or felt they had no choice but to abandon their farms in search of work. Topics: Dust Bowl, Economy, Great Depression, United States New Deals during the Great Depression The great depression started when there was a stock market crash in 1929. Babb, Sanora, Dorothy Babb, and Douglas Wixson. [21] The dust clouds blew all the way to Chicago, where they deposited 12 million pounds of dust (~ 5500 tonnes). [16] During the next decade, the northern plains suffered four of their seven driest calendar years since 1895, Kansas four of its twelve driest,[17] and the entire region south to West Texas[18] lacked any period of above-normal rainfall until record rains hit in 1941. Beginning on May 9, 1934, a strong, two-day dust storm removed massive amounts of Great Plains topsoil in one of the worst such storms of the Dust Bowl. The stock market crash of 1929 B. [29] Many Americans migrated west looking for work. [44] Numerous exhibits are included in this report. The Dust Bowl | Discussion Questions | Activities | Resources. Oklahoma migrants, in particular, were rural Southwesterners who carried their traditional country music to California. Agricultural Adjustment Administration and Murphy, Philip G., (1935). Mother of Seven Children,[48] which depicted a gaunt-looking woman, Florence Owens Thompson, holding three of her children. Among her most well-known photographs is Destitute Pea Pickers in California. [30] Some residents of the Plains, especially in Kansas and Oklahoma, fell ill and died of dust pneumonia or malnutrition. The Dust Bowl was an area in the Midwest that suffered from drought during the 1930s and the Great Depression. Specifically, Atlantic Ocean sea surface temperatures appear to have had an indirect effect on the general atmospheric circulation, while Pacific sea surface temperatures seem to have had the most direct influence.[1]. See some of those who lived through it, their thousand-yard stares, and the ghostly landscapes they traveled through in the Dust Bowl pictures above. It is now known as the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS).[37]. LinkedIn with Background Voices of Oklahoma interview with Frosty Troy. Although it was difficult for farmers to give up their herds, the cattle slaughter program helped many of them avoid bankruptcy. The Dust Bowl not … Some of the failure to shift to more productive agricultural products may be related to ignorance about the benefits of changing land use. This catastrophe intensified the economic impact of the Great Depression in the region. 1929. [27] Dust Bowl conditions fomented an exodus of the displaced from Texas, Oklahoma, and the surrounding Great Plains to adjacent regions. Jackrabbit drives in western Kansas were viewed as a battle of survival between farmers and the rabbits during the Great Depression and the Dust Bowl in the mid 1930s. [32] In just over a year, over 86,000 people migrated to California. [25]:3 Even over the long-term, the agricultural value of the land often failed to recover to pre-Dust Bowl levels. The Dust Bowl disaster was caused by a series of devastating droughts in the 1930s, poor soil conservation techniques and over-farming. The land and revenue began increasing again in 1940, and has been increasing since then. Three million people left their farms on the Great Plains during the drought and half a million migrated to other states, almost all to the West. Great Depression/Dust Bowl Timeline created by chanson. Author John Steinbeck, borrowing closely from field notes taken by Farm Security Administration worker and author Sanora Babb,[citation needed] wrote The Grapes of Wrath (1939) about migrant workers and farm families displaced by the Dust Bowl. Land degradation varied widely. Nearly one-third of all migrants were professional or white-collar workers. The Great Depression is one of the single most-important events to occur in world history during the twentieth century. The Great Depression was the worst economic downturn in world history. During this time, total population increased steadily, but there was a slight dip in trend from 1930 to 1960. The fine soil of the Great Plains was easily eroded and carried east by strong continental winds. Parents packed up "jalopies" with their families and a few personal belongings, and headed west in search of work. Kraft food introduced Kraft Macaroni and Cheese in 1937. The President's Drought Committee issued a report in 1935 covering the government's assistance to agriculture during 1934 through mid-1935: it discussed conditions, measures of relief, organization, finances, operations, and results of the government's assistance. To create shelterbelts to reduce soil erosion, groups such as the United States Forestry Service's Prairie States Forestry Project planted trees on private lands. Babb's own novel about the lives of the migrant workers, Whose Names Are Unknown, was written in 1939 but was eclipsed and shelved in response to the success of Steinbeck's work, and was finally published in 2004. The Dust Bowl described what Great Depression situation? The Dust Bowl refers to the series of severe dust storms that swept across the Great Plains region throughout the second half of the 1930s. They are still on the range, and other millions of heads are today canned and ready for this country to eat. The rapid mechanization of farm equipment, especially small gasoline tractors, and widespread use of the combine harvester contributed to farmers' decisions to convert arid grassland (much of which received no more than 10 inches (~250 mm) of precipitation per year) to cultivated cropland. Imagine soil so dry that plants disappear and dirt blows past your door like sand. At the same time, technological improvements such as mechanized plowing and mechanized harvesting made it possible to operate larger properties without increasing labor costs. Record-setting summer temperatures of the 1930s along with blowing topsoil and drought made it difficult to grow crops. Be on the lookout for your Britannica newsletter to get trusted stories delivered right to your inbox. [14] While initial agricultural endeavors were primarily cattle ranching, the adverse effect of harsh winters on the cattle, beginning in 1886, a short drought in 1890, and general overgrazing, led many landowners to increase the amount of land under cultivation. [28] Terms such as "Okies" and "Arkies" came to be known in the 1930s as the standard terms for those who had lost everything and were struggling the most during the Great Depression. For example, in the Llano Estacado of eastern New Mexico and northwestern Texas, the area of farmland was doubled between 1900 and 1920, then tripled again between 1925 and 1930. A second explanation is a lack of availability of credit, caused by the high rate of failure of banks in the Plains states. The DRS assigned the remaining cattle to the Federal Surplus Relief Corporation (FSRC) to be used in food distribution to families nationwide. 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