Holt, Rinehart and Winston, New York. That grave title belongs to the 1930s Dust Bowl, created by the drought, erosion, and dust storms (or "black blizzards") of the so-called Dirty Thirties. An Agricultural and Social History of the Dust Bowl. Dust storms engulfed entire towns. Get a verified writer to help you with What Caused the Dust Bowl. As Donald Worster, the leading historian of the Dust Bowl, put it, “In no other instance was there greater or more sustained damage to the American land . Revisiting the Dust Bowl: Some graphs that detail how bad the drought was. The main reasons for the cause of the Dust Bowl were the geography of the Southern Great Plains, heavy machinery, and extremely dry climate. . Houghton-Mifflin. These economic conditions also created pressure on farmers to abandon soil conservation practices to reduce expenditures. The Dust Bowl. Families wore respiratory masks handed out by Red Cross workers, cleaned their homes each morning with shovels and brooms, and draped wet sheets over doors and windows to help filter out the dust. The magnitude of the droughts of the 1930s, combined with the Great Depression, led to unprecedented government relief efforts. Men were taken off work programs to enter the armed forces and to produce for the war effort. Federal aid to the drought-affected states was first given in 1932, but the first funds marked specifically for drought relief were not released until the fall of 1933. Enc… The Dust Bowl was a natural disaster that devastated the Midwest in the 1930s. This ecological and economic disaster and the region where it happened came to be known as the Dust Bowl. Migration During the Dust Bowl. Many accidents and natural disasters have done serious environmental damage to the United States. Don't waste time. "I wonder if in the next 500 years--or the next 1000, there will be summers when rain will fall in Inavale. As important as these programs may have been, the survival of a majority of the families and enterprises undoubtedly rested solely with their perseverance and integrity. United States House of Representatives. We are here to stay” (quoted in Hurt, 1981). Furthermore, during the 1920s, many farmers switched from the lister to the more efficient one-way disc plow, which also greatly increased the risk of blowing soil. The Dust Bowl resulted from years of unsustainable agriculture that eroded soils and destroyed native grasslands that held the earth in place. Agribusiness is pumping water from the aquifer eight times faster than rain and other natural forces can refill it. One drawback (described by Hurt, 1981) was that the start of World War II shifted remaining funds and priorities away from drought-related programs. The Dust Bowl exacerbated the effects of the Great Depression and sparked the largest American migration in the shortest amount of time. These events laid the groundwork for the severe soil erosion that would cause the Dust Bowl. Migration along Route 66. Between 2013 and 2015, the aquifer lost 10.7 million acre-feet of storage. Instead, the agricultural subsidies that began as part of the New Deal to help farm families stay on the land are now being given to corporate farms that are growing crops to be sold overseas. A number of poor land management practices in the Great Plains region increased the vulnerability of the area before the 1930s drought. Those who remained in the drought regions were forced to endure severe dust storms and their health effects, diminished incomes, animal infestations, and the physical and emotional stress over their uncertain futures. Thanks, Scott W. Alexandria, VA. Great question, Scott! A dust storm approaching Rolla, Kansas, May 6, 1935. The Economics and Effects of the Dust Bowl. Relief of the drought area. Dust Bowl in Text: Persuasive Rhetoric in the Dust Bowl Story Objective: Students will understand examples of persuasive language and will learn about conditions in the Dust Bowl region in the mid-1930s by examining a speech by Franklin Delano Roosevelt and a … In the 1930s, eastern Colorado experienced the worst ecological disaster in the state’s history. In addition to overproduction and falling crop prices, the Great Plains suffered a phenomenon that became known as the Dust Bowl. Last weekend no one was taking an automobile out f… Westview Press, Boulder, Colorado. Moreover, items such as gasoline and replacement parts were redirected from federal drought and conservation programs to the war efforts. Biswas (eds.). This led to a return to some of the inappropriate farming and grazing practices that made many regions so vulnerable to drought in the 1930s. Hurt, D.R. *Egan, Timothy. Many of these measures were initiated by the federal government, a relatively new practice. © 2020 - National Drought Mitigation Center. Last weekend was the worst dust storm we ever had. ThoughtCo uses cookies to provide you with a great user experience. Many other proactive measures taken after the 1930s drought also reduced rural and urban vulnerability to drought, including new or enlarged reservoirs, improved domestic water systems, changes in farm policies, new insurance and aid programs, and removal of some of the most sensitive agricultural lands from production (Riebsame et al., 1991). Works Progress Administration, Washington, D.C. Riebsame, W.E. Farm family, Sargent, Nebraska, 1886. Research Bulletin: Relief and Rehabilitation in the Drought Area. In addition, because of poverty and high unemployment, migrants added to local relief efforts, sometimes overburdening relief and health agencies. Many of these farmers were forced to seek government assistance. Even though short-term conditions seemed to be relatively stable, this production growth had some drawbacks. If the Roosevelt era marked the beginning of large-scale aid, it also ushered in some of the first long-term, proactive programs to reduce future vulnerability to drought. It was the most damaging and prolonged environmental disaster in American history. 1966. Crops withered and died. Clothes in the closets are covered with dust. The soil became so dry that it turned to dust. Communication from the President of the United States, 73d Congress, 2d Session, Document No. Program on Technology, Environment and Man Monograph #NSF-RA-E-75-004, Institute of Behavioral Science, University of Colorado, Boulder. However, it is not known how many of the remaining cases (32%) were indirectly affected by drought. During the 1930s, many measures were undertaken to relieve the direct impacts of droughts and to reduce the region’s vulnerability to the dry conditions. We've been having quite a bit of blowing dirt every year since the drought started, not only here, but all over the Great Plains. The Dust Bowl is a term which was coined by a journalist during the “Dirty Thirties”. The primary impact area of the Dust Bowl, as it came to be known, was on the Southern Plains. The term Dust Bowl was suggested by conditions that struck the region in the early 1930s. The WPA report also noted that 21% of all rural families in the Great Plains area were receiving federal emergency relief by 1936 (Link et al., 1937); the number was as high as 90% in hard-hit counties (Warrick, 1980). Drought and Natural Resources Management in the United States: Impacts and Implications of the 1987–89 Drought. The depression and drought hit farmers on the Great Plains the hardest. Warrick et al. When drought began in the early 1930s, it worsened these poor economic conditions. The Dust Bowl was an area in the Midwest that suffered from drought during the 1930s and the Great Depression. One of the main causes of the Dust Bowl was the geography of the Southern Great Plains. The Dust Bowl was caused, in large part, by excessive tillage of the soil. The Dust Bowl had many causes and effects. Mental Health‎ > ‎ The Impact of the Great Depression on Mental Health. For example, millions of people migrated from the drought areas, often heading west, in search of work. The 1930s drought is often referred to as if it were one episode, but it was actually several distinct events occurring in such rapid succession that affected regions were not able to recover adequately before another drought began. Although the 1988–89 drought was the most economically devastating natural disaster in the history of the United States (Riebsame et al., 1991), a close second is undoubtedly the series of droughts that affected large portions of the United States in the 1930s. The Charles L. Todd and Robert Sonkin Collecting Expeditio n This Library of Congress collection was created by Charles L. Todd and Robert Sonkin, both ethnographers, who provide a glimpse into the everyday life and cultural expression of people living through a particularly difficult period of American history, the Great Depression and Dust Bowl era. 1937. The Dust Bowl of the 1930s stands as the United States’ worst environmental disaster in history. This meant that conservation programs and research were significantly reduced during this period. These newcomers were often in direct competition for jobs with longer-established residents, which created conflict between the groups. It is not possible to count all the costs associated with the 1930s drought, but one estimate by Warrick et al. Follow the NDMC on social media to receive the latest information and updates about our work. The term Dust Bowl was coined in 1935 when an AP reporter, Robert Geiger, used it to describe the drought-affected south central United States in the aftermath of horrific dust storms. “Boosters” of the region, hoping to promote settlement, put forth glowing but inaccurate accounts of the Great Plains’ agricultural potential. Effects of the Plains drought sent economic and social ripples throughout the country. Bone-dry fields, dark skies, and death-by-dust-pneumonia: remembering the horrors of the Dust Bowl can help us fight climate change. The depression helped “soften deep-rooted, hard-line attitudes of free enterprise, individualism, and the passive role of the government”, thus paving the way for Roosevelt’s New Deal programs, which in turn provided a framework for drought relief programs for the Great Plains (Warrick, 1980). .” Although cable news and the internet weren’t around to sensationalize the prolonged event, the Great Plains, and Southern Plains were devastated by the damage. The Dust Bowl drought of the 1930s was arguably one of the worst environmental disasters of the 20th century. In all, assistance may have reached $1 billion (in 1930s dollars) by the end of the drought (Warrick et al., 1980). Since most of the best farming areas were already being used, poorer farmlands were increasingly used. Even ships at sea, 300 miles off the Atlantic coast, were left coated with dust. That’s what really happened during the Dust Bowl. Basically, reductions in soil conservation measures and the encroachment onto poorer lands made the farming community more vulnerable to wind erosion, soil moisture depletion, depleted soil nutrients, and drought. These qualities are succinctly expressed in the comments of one contemporary Kansan: “We have faith in the future. Farmers also started to abandon soil conservation practices. The Dust Bowl And Hobos. Several expeditions had explored the region, but they were not studying the region for its agricultural potential, and, furthermore, their findings went into government reports that were not readily available to the general public (Fite, 1966). These events occurred in such rapid succession that affected regions were not able to recover adequately before another drought began. Congressional actions in 1934 alone accounted for relief expenditures of $525 million (U.S. House of Representatives, 1934); the total cost (social, economic, and environmental) would be impossible to determine. The programs had a variety of goals, all of which were aimed at the reduction of drought impacts and vulnerability: President Roosevelt visiting a farmer who received a drought relief grant, Mandan, North Dakota, 1936. (1980) claims that financial assistance from the government may have been as high as $1 billion (in 1930s dollars) by the end of the drought. Although records focus on other problems, the lack of precipitation would also have affected wildlife and plant life, and would have created water shortages for domestic needs. Agribusiness is draining the Ogallala Aquifer, the United States' largest source of groundwater, which stretches from South Dakota to Texas and supplies about 30% of the nation's irrigation water. 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