The 1930s was a hard time for American agriculture; it was the time known as the Dust Bowl. Areas like the southeastern Great Plains and parts of the Mississippi Valley. In 1862 The Homestead Act was passed and it allowed thousands of settlers to move out into the Great Plains and create homes for themselves. They were mainly farmers or ranchers. The farmers would grow large amounts of wheat and the ranchers would graze cattle. A large amount of prairie grass had already been destroyed from when the settlers moved in, but when the demand for wheat increased, even more prairie grass was destroyed. The wheat demand caused the grazing of cattle to be reduced for millions of more acres for wheat. Eventually land became bare with environmental damage.
The drought began in 1930 and the excessive dry land farming began to make the over farmed and overgrazed land blow away (Dust Bowl During the Great Depression). The drought soon expanded and few farmers had little reserves. The winds were the worst of the natural elements; it blew the land all over and was thick enough to coat houses like snow. The dust destroyed crops and, in turn, destroyed the markets (Wunder). Farm families from the Great Plains abandoned their houses and land and became migrant workers in the west. California was a popular area for migrant workers. The laborers were given names like “Okies” or “Arkies”, because of the areas that they came from. Charles Todd and Robert Sonkin, from the Department of Public Speaking of the College of the City of New York created programs that provided songs for the Okies. They would hold these programs at migrant labor camps for the laborers and their families (Songs of the Okies). They would go and gather with each other to enjoy the music that reminded them of their home.
Rain was still desperately needed in the Great Plains, farmers tried machines and prayers to make the rain return. As newly president, Franklin Delano Roosevelt visited North Dakota and admitted to not being as knowledgeable of the situations regarding the lack of rain. He promised to make an effort to help solve the farming problem. And it just so happened that with Roosevelt’s visit, the rain came (Wunder 7).
- Wunder, John R. Americans View Their Dust Bowl Experience. n.p.: University Press of Colorado, 1999. eBook Collection (EBSCOhost). Web. 18 Oct. 2012. “Dust Bowl During the Great Depression.”
- Dust Bowl During the Great Depression. N.p., n.d. Web. 18 Oct. 2012. <http://www.loc.gov/teachers/classroommaterials/presentationsandactivities/prese ntations/timeline/depwwii/dustbowl/>. “Songs of the Okies – Radio Script.” Songs of the Okies – Radio Script. N.p., n.d. Web. 18 Oct. 2012. <http://www.loc.gov/teachers/classroommaterials/presentationsandactivities/prese ntations/timeline/depwwi/dustbowl/songokie.html>,