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The Dust Bowl

August 5th, 2005

[The Grapes of Wrath]

The land of the southern plains, including parts of Oklahoma, Kansas, and Texas, was originally covered with grasses that held the soil in place.

Settlers plowed millions of acres of grasslands and, when drought came in the 1930s, there was nothing to protect the soil against the strong prairie winds. Dust storms blowed away the soil, covering everything in dirt. The Great Plains were turned into a desert known as the Dust Bowl.

The Dust Bowl lasted about a decade and contributed to the length of the Great Depression of the 1930s. Farmers were forced to move to other regions, to be able to work and survive.

The story of the Joad family’s migration from Oklahoma to California is described in the novel “The Grapes of Wrath” by John Steinbeck (1939). The following year John Ford directed the movie based on Steinbeck’s novel, featuring Henry Fonda as Tom Joad. The image shows the recent DVD cover (20th Century Fox, 2004).

For more information on the Dust Bowl, you can visit the site of the Library of Congress America’s Story from America’s Library.

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