The Dust Bowl refers to the drought-stricken Southern Plains region of the United States, which suffered severe dust storms during a dry period in the 1930s and early 1940s. As high winds and choking The Dust Bowl refers to the drought-stricken Southern Plains region of the United States, which suf dust swept the region from Texas to Nebraska, people and livestock were killed and crops failed across the entire region. The Dust Bowl intensified the crushing economic impacts of the Great Depression and drove many farming families on a desperate migration in search of work and better living conditions.
The Dust Bowl was caused by several economic and agricultural factors, including federal land policies, changes in regional weather, farm economics and other cultural factors. After the Civil War, a series of federal land acts coaxed pioneers westward by incentivizing farming in the Great Plains.
Children of a migrant fruit worker in Berrien County, Michigan, July 1940.
Farm machinery buried by a dust storm near a barn lot in Dallas, South Dakota, May 1936.
Thirty-two-year-old Florence Owens Thompson with three of her seven children at a pea pickers’ camp in Nipomo, California, March 1936.
Dust Bowl farm in the Coldwater District, north of Dalhart, Texas, June 1938.
A child plays in a California migratory camp, 1936.
A dust storm looms behind a car in the Texas Panhandle, March 1936.
Migrant worker looking through back window of automobile near Prague, Oklahoma, 1939.
The young son of a farmer walks amid the dust in Cimarron County, Oklahoma, April 1936.
A destitute family in the Ozark Mountains area of Arkansas, 1935.
The “Black Sunday” dust storm, one of the worst of the entire era, hits Liberal, Kansas on April 14 1935.
Children from Oklahoma staying in a migratory camp in California, November 1936.
Veteran migrant worker camped in Wagoner County, Oklahoma, June 1939. When asked where his home was, he told photographer Russell Lee, “It’s all over.”
Poor 24-year-old father and 17-year-old mother attempt to hitchhike with their baby on California’s U.S. Highway 99, November 1936.
Landscape left barren by the Dust Bowl, north of Dalhart, Texas, June 1938.
A farmer and his sons walk amid a dust storm in Cimarron County, Oklahoma, April 1936.
The children of a migrant family living in a trailer in the middle of a field south of Chandler, Arizona, November 1940.
“This is a hard way to serve the Lord”: An Oklahoma refugee in California, March 1937.
Migrant family traveling on foot through Oklahoma, looking for work elsewhere after father fell ill but was refused country relief, June 1938.
Dust bowl refugee from Chickasaw, Oklahoma, now in Imperial Valley, California, March 1937.
A woman identified as Mrs. Howard holds her baby at a migrant camp in California, 1935.
Tenant farmers in Imperial Valley, California, March 1937.
Children of a tenant farmer in Boone County, Arkansas, 1935.
A drought refugee from Oklahoma attempts to prepare dinner in her makeshift outdoor dwelling in Marysville, California, August 1935
The children of a migrant fruit worker in Berrien County, Michigan, July 1940.
Dust storm damage in Cimarron County, Oklahoma, April 193
A young migratory mother originally from Texas, now in Edison, California, April 1940. The day before this photo was taken, she and her husband had traveled 35 miles each way to pick peas for five hours, earning just $2.25 between them.
Sand dunes on a farm in Cimarron County, Oklahoma, April 1936.
A migrant fruit farmer and his family rest at a camp in Marysville, California, June 1935.
Soil blown by Dust Bowl winds piled up in large drifts near Liberal, Kansas, March 1936.
Members of a poor family of nine who’d been living in a makeshift dwelling constructed from an abandoned car and using a nearby creek as their only water source along U.S. Route 70 between Bruceton and Camden, Tennessee, March 1936.
An abandoned farm house in southwest Oklahoma, June 1937.
A man stands amid a raging dust storm at an unspecified location, circa 1934-1936.
An abandoned house on the edge of the Great Plains near Hollis, Oklahoma, June 1938.
A migratory field worker’s makeshift home on the edge of a pea field, where they lived through the winter, in Imperial Valley, California, 1937.
A dust storm in Oklahoma, April 1936.
A migrant farmer and his child in California, 1936.
A dust storm rages at an unspecified location, 1930s.
At the Midway Dairy cooperative, near Santa Ana, California, 1936.
A dust storm near Beaver, Oklahoma, July 1935.
A farmer in Kansas, March 1936.
The “Black Sunday” dust storm approaches Spearman, Texas on April 14, 1935.
A mother and child at the El Monte Federal Subsistence Homesteads in California, 1936.
An abandoned farm in Cimarron County, Oklahoma, April 1936.
A migrant mother from Missouri tends to her sick child after experiencing car trouble on U.S. Highway 99 near Tracy, California, February 1937.
A woman in a pea picker’s camp in California, March 1937.
Dust Bowl refugees in California, 1936.