THE OKLAHOMA DUST BOWL

Throughout the 1930s, a drought swept through the Southern Plains of the United States of America and devastated a region already in the midst of the Great Depression. Though it would affect farms and families across many states, it came to be known as the Oklahoma Dust Bowl. The drought, heavy windblown dust and agricultural decline all combined to wreak havoc on the area and prolong the economic decline of the entire country.

Beginning in 1931, and lasting a full eight years, the Dust Bowl highlighted the poor agricultural practices of the time and showed how the bountiful harvests of the 1920s had been built on short-term visions. In that, way the Dust Bowl is the perfect metaphor for the entire era. The poor ploughing practices of the 1920s had enriched the entire area during the heavy rainfalls of the Roaring Twenties. The rain produced huge harvests and led to prosperity for many farmers.

At the onset of the 1930s, two years after the Wall Street Crash had plunged the entire country in to crisis, the droughts that would last the entire decade began. The farmers were not ready, the soil had been ripped up over the course of the 1920s, and strong dust clouds began enveloping the area. Throughout the decade, many families were forced to leave the Southern Plains as the Dust Bowl worsened. Children went back and forth from schools wearing masks for their mouths, wives hung wet blankets over windows to keep the dust out and the farming economy collapsed completely.

The Dust Bowl exodus was the largest migration in American history within a short period. Between 1930 and 1940, approximately 3.5 million people moved out of the Plains states, more were said to have moved to California during the Dust Bowl than during the Gold Rush of the 1840s.

Migrant Mother/Wide shot
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