The Great Depression was the worst economic downturn in world history. Definition and Summary of the Dust Bowl Summary and Definition: The Dust Bowl was a "decade-long disaster" and a series of droughts was one of the worst natural disaster in American history. Because the amount of topsoil had been reduced, it would have been more productive to shift from crops and wheat to animals and hay. It worsened the Great Depression and could happen again. The Dust Bowl is the term used to refer to the drought conditions that occurred across North America during the 1930s and the time period of the Great Depression.Also referred to as the Dirty Thirties, the Dust Bowl affected over 100,000,000 acres of agricultural land across Canada and the United States. The fine soil of the Great Plains was easily eroded and carried east by strong continental winds. 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. During this time, total population increased steadily, but there was a slight dip in trend from 1930 to 1960. The economy adjusted predominantly through large relative population declines in more-eroded counties, both during the 1930s and through the 1950s.:1500. On April 14, 1935, known as "Black Sunday", 20 of the worst "black blizzards" occurred across the entire sweep of the Great Plains, from Canada south to Texas. Some of the failure to shift to more productive agricultural products may be related to ignorance about the benefits of changing land use. Dust bowl definition, a period, throughout the 1930s, when waves of severe drought and dust storms in the North American prairies occurred, having devastating consequences for the residents, livestock, and agriculture there: When the Dust Bowl began, the Great Depression was already underway—it was one disaster on top of another. Dust Bowl Facts ~ Great Depression. In 1941, a Kansas agricultural experiment station released a bulletin that suggested reestablishing native grasses by the "hay method". On rare occasions when the wind did subside for a period of hours, the air has been so filled with dust that the town appeared to be overhung by a fog cloud. 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. The prairie needed its grass, or crops like wheat, to hold down the soil and dirt. Furthermore, cotton farmers left fields bare during winter months, when winds in the High Plains are highest, and burned the stubble as a means to control weeds prior to planting, thereby depriving the soil of organic nutrients and surface vegetation. Dust Bowl. Voices of Oklahoma interview with Frosty Troy.  In addition, profit margins in either animals or hay were still minimal, and farmers had little incentive in the beginning to change their crops.  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. Much of the farmland was eroded in the aftermath of the Dust Bowl.   Many of the songs of folk singer Woody Guthrie, such as those on his 1940 album Dust Bowl Ballads, are about his experiences in the Dust Bowl era during the Great Depression when he traveled with displaced farmers from Oklahoma to California and learned their traditional folk and blues songs, earning him the nickname the "Dust Bowl Troubadour".. Along with inspiration from the 1930s crisis, director Christopher Nolan features interviews from the 2012 documentary The Dust Bowl to draw further parallels. The Great Depression and the Dust Bowl. Kraft food introduced Kraft Macaroni and Cheese in 1937. This catastrophe intensified the economic impact of the Great Depression in the region. In many regions, more than 75% of the topsoil was blown away by the end of the 1930s.  She captured what have become classic images of the dust storms and migrant families. a series of dust storms that created an environmental disaster in the western part of the United States in the 1930's Farmers could no longer grow crops as the land turned into a desert. A. Dust Bowl and the Great 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. Interior Secretary Harold L. Ickes established the Soil Erosion Service in August 1933 under Hugh Hammond Bennett. 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. More than 500,000 Americans were left homeless. Oklahoma migrants, in particular, were rural Southwesterners who carried their traditional country music to California. Box Elder County, Utah Russell Lee 1940 . Waves of European settlers arrived in the plains at the beginning of the 20th century.  After much data analysis, the causal mechanism for the droughts can be linked to ocean temperature anomalies. , 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 | Discussion Questions | Activities | Resources. The stock market crash of 1929 B. 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. With the end of the Civil War in 1865 and the completion of the First Transcontinental Railroad in 1869, waves of new migrants and immigrants reached the Great Plains, and they greatly increased the acreage under cultivation. During the drought of the 1930s, without natural anchors to keep the soil in place, it dried, turned to dust, and… The budget game worksheets can be printed via the link below. 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. It paid to have the meat packed and distributed to the poor and hungry. Families were struck by massive storms of dust, along with the Great Depression.  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. Spearman and Hansford County have been literaly [sic] in a cloud of dust for the past week. , The greatly expanded participation of government in land management and soil conservation was an important outcome from the disaster. " Thus, the parity goal was to re-create the ratio between the purchasing power of the net income per person on farms from agriculture and that of the income of persons not on farms that prevailed during 1909–1914. As part of New Deal programs, Congress passed the Soil Conservation and Domestic Allotment Act in 1936, requiring landowners to share the allocated government subsidies with the laborers who worked on their farms. Mother of Seven Children, which depicted a gaunt-looking woman, Florence Owens Thompson, holding three of her children. 1929. ", "Drought: A Paleo Perspective – 20th Century Drought", "The Black Sunday Dust Storm of 14 April 1935", "A History of Drought in Colorado: lessons learned and what lies ahead", "A Report of the Great Plains Area Drought Committee", "Northern Rockies and Plains Average Temperature – October to March", "Northern Rockies and Plains Precipitation, 1895–2013", "Texas Climate Division 1 (High Plains): Precipitation 1895–2013", "The Weather of 1941 in the United States", National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, "The Enduring Impact of the American Dust Bowl: Short and Long-run Adjustments to Environmental Catastrophe", "First Measured Century: Interview:James Gregory", "Timeline: The Dust Bowl | American Experience | PBS", Drought of 1934: The Federal Government's Assistance to Agriculture, "Droughts, Floods, and Financial Distress in the United States", "Destitute Pea Pickers in California: Mother of Seven Children, Age Thirty-two, Nipomo, California. 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.  Two days later, the same storm reached cities to the east, such as Cleveland, Buffalo, Boston, New York City, and Washington, D.C. That winter (1934–1935), red snow fell on New England. https://www.britannica.com/place/Dust-Bowl. Associated Press reporter Robert E. Geiger happened to be in Boise City, Oklahoma, to witness the "Black Sunday" black blizzards of April 14, 1935; Edward Stanley, the Kansas City news editor of the Associated Press, coined the term "Dust Bowl" while rewriting Geiger's news story.. 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. More than 350 houses had to be torn down after one storm alone. Ever since Friday of last week, there hasn't been a day pass but what the county was beseieged [sic] with a blast of wind and dirt. Parents packed up "jalopies" with their families and a few personal belongings, and headed west in search of work. The Great Depression is one of the single most-important events to occur in world history during the twentieth century. In 1935, it was transferred and reorganized under the Department of Agriculture and renamed the Soil Conservation Service.  Many Americans migrated west looking for work. 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. 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. The FSRC diverted agricultural commodities to relief organizations. 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. Great Depression/Dust Bowl Timeline created by chanson. In the decade prior to the crash of 1929, the nation became polarized between rich and poor.  Dust Bowl conditions fomented an exodus of the displaced from Texas, Oklahoma, and the surrounding Great Plains to adjacent regions. Learn about the Dust Bowl, New Deal, causes of the Great Depression, a Great Depression timeline more. Today, the "Bakersfield Sound" describes this blend, which developed after the migrants brought country music to the city. 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. Be on the lookout for your Britannica newsletter to get trusted stories delivered right to your inbox. The land and revenue began increasing again in 1940, and has been increasing since then. 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 Encyclopaedia Britannica's editors oversee subject areas in which they have extensive knowledge, whether from years of experience gained by working on that content or via study for an advanced degree.... Help support true facts by becoming a member. Although it was difficult for farmers to give up their herds, the cattle slaughter program helped many of them avoid bankruptcy. The Dust Bowl was a series of periodic dust storms in the Midwestern prairies that coincided with the Great Depression in America. Babb, Sanora, Dorothy Babb, and Douglas Wixson. , Not all migrants traveled long distances; some simply went to the next town or county. Start studying Dust Bowl, Causes of Great Depression/HH & FDR.  The abandonment of homesteads and financial ruin resulting from catastrophic topsoil loss led to widespread hunger and poverty. written by Lynette Boone, University of Oregon References. During early European and American exploration of the Great Plains, this region was thought unsuitable for European-style agriculture; explorers called it the Great American Desert. 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.. Because of this long seige of dust and every building being filled with it, the air has become stifling to breathe and many people have developed sore throats and dust colds as a result. 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. 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 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. 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. 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. On November 11, 1933, a very strong dust storm stripped topsoil from desiccated South Dakota farmlands in just one of a series of severe dust storms that year.  The persistent dry weather caused crops to fail, leaving the plowed fields exposed to wind erosion. Dust Bowl, section of the Great Plains of the United States where overcultivation and drought during the early 1930s resulted in the depletion of topsoil, which was carried off in windblown dust storms that forced thousands of families to leave the region at the height of the Great Depression. 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.. A cousin of mine wrote a fascinating graduate thesis on the life of my paternal great-grandmother.  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.  Numerous exhibits are included in this report. Although government took measures to try and end it themselves, they didn’t see much immediate success. The Dust Bowl was the worst manpmade ecological disater in American history. Work Cited Historians point to the fall of 1939 as the end of the Dust Bowl Released August 25, 1939 The Great Depression & The 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. This land, known as the dust bowl, became unfit for farming as the once fertile soil and dirt turned to dust. His story about Black Sunday marked the first appearance of the term Dust Bowl; it was coined by Edward Stanley, Kansas City news editor of the Associated Press, while rewriting Geiger's news story.. 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 region is also subject to high winds. Over-plowing, over-planting overproducing; it wasn't long before farmers ranging from Texas to North Dakota exhausted their farmland. 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