Dust Bowl References

Books - Non-fiction

"The Worst Hard Time: The Untold Story of Those Who Survived the Great American Dust Bowl"
by Timothy Egan
National Book Award Winner
2006, Houghton Mifflin Company, Boston, New York
ISBN-13: 978-0-618-77347-3 (paperback)

"The Dust Bowl: Disaster on the Plains (Spotlight on American History)"
by Tricia Andryszewski
Reading level: Ages 9-12
1994, Millbrook Press Trade
ISBN: 1562947478 (paperback)

"The Dust Bowl: Men, Dirt, and Depression"
by Paul Bonnifield,
1979, University of New Mexico Press, Albuquerque, New Mexico.
ISBN: 0-8263-0485-0 (hardcover)
Worster and Bonnifield both published their chronicles of the Dust Bowl in 1979. Bonnifield's book is almost an apology for the farmers who plowed up the sod and thus set up the conditions for disaster. It is heavy with useful tables, charts and statistics. Bonnifield relied extensively on contemporary newspaper accounts, as well as interviews with survivors. The book includes an excellent bibliography.

"The Dust Bowl"
by David Booth, Karen Reczuch (Illustrator)
Reading level: Ages 4-8
1997, Kids Can Press
ISBN: 1550742957 (hardcover)

"The Dust Bowl (World Disasters)"
by John Farris, Maurie Manning (Illustrator)
1989, Lucent Books
ISBN: 1560060050 (hardcover) This slim book for children is an excellent introduction to the Dust Bowl. Farris explains the conditions that led to the storms, tells what they were like, and describes both the exodus to California and the search for solutions.

"Reapers of the Dust A Prairie Chronicle"
by Lois Phillips Hudson
1964, Minnesota Historical Society
ISBN: 0873511778
First published in 1965, her childhood recollections of living in North Dakota are what Lois Phillips Hudson used to spin these unusual, moving stories of simple, joyful days and of continuing battles with the hostile elements on the Great Plains during the 1930s. Lois Hudson is recognized as a major chronicler of America's agricultural heartland during the grim years of the Great Depression.

"The Dust Bowl; An Agricultural and Social History"
by R. Douglas Hurt,
1981, Nelson-Hall Publishing, Chicago, Illinois.
ISBN: 0-88229-541-1 (cloth)
ISBN: 0-88229-789-9 (paper)

"Dust Bowl Diary"
by Ann Marie Low
1984, University of Nebraska Press
ISBN: 0803279132 (paperback)
This diary of a woman who lived on the plains of North Dakota in the 1930s captures the feeling of the Dust Bowl: "April 25, 1934, Wednesday Last weekend was the worst dust storm we ever had. We've been having quite a bit of blowing dirt every year since the drouth started, not only here, but all over the Great Plains. Many days this spring the air is just full of dirt coming, literally for hundreds of miles. It sifts into everything. After we wash the dishes and put them away, so much dirt sifts into the cupboards we must wash them again before the next meal. Clothes in the closets are covered with dust. Last weekend no one was taking an automobile out for fear of ruining the motor. I rode Roany to Frank's place to return a gear. To find my way I had to ride right beside the fence, scarcely able to see from one fence post to the next. Newspapers say the deaths of many babies and old people are attributed to breathing in so much dirt."

"Rooted in Dust: Surviving Drought and Depression in Southwestern Kansas"
by Pamela Riney-Kehrberg,
1994, University Press of Kansas, Lawrence, Kansas
ISBN: 0-7006-0644-0 (hardcover)

"A Boyhood in the Dust Bowl 1926-1934"
by Robert Allen Rutland
1997), University Press of Colorado
ISBN: 0870814850

"Farming the Dust Bowl: A First-Hand Account from Kansas"
by Lawrence Svobida,
1986, University Press of Kansas, Lawrence, Kansas
ISBN: 0-7006-0289-5 (hardcover)
ISBN: 0-7006-0290-9 (paperback)

"Heaven's Tableland: The Dust Bowl Story"
by Vance Johnson
1947, Farrar, Straus and Company, New York

"Dust Bowl: A Problem-Based Unit"
by Vantassel-Baska
1996, Kendall/Hunt Publishing Company
ISBN: 0787227544 (paperback)

"Dust Bowl: The Southern Plains In the 1930's"
by Donald Worster,
1979, Oxford University Press, New York, New York.
ISBN: 0-19-502550-4 (Hardcover)
ISBN 0-19-503212-8 (Paperback)
This account of the Dust Bowl explains why it happened, how it was solved, and how it felt to live through it. You can almost feel the wind in your face and taste the grit in your mouth. Worster was uniquely qualified to write the definitive book on the Dust Bowl -- he is a noted historian, a talented writer and a child of the southern plains.

"Americans View Their Dust Bowl Experience"
by John R. Wunder (Editor), Frances W. Kaye (Editor), Vernon Carstensen (Editor)
1999, University Press of Colorado
ISBN: 0870815075 (hardcover)

Books - Fiction

"Grapes of Wrath"
by John Steinbeck
Reissue edition (October 1992) Penguin USA
ISBN: 0140186409 (Paperback - 619 pages)
John Steinbeck's classic novel, first published in 1939, deals only peripherally with the Dust Bowl. It is about the exodus to California during the Great Depression and what happened to the immigrants called Okies, because in the California mind they came from Oklahoma. Steinbeck's geography was sketchy at best; his Dust Bowl was in eastern Oklahoma, several hundred miles from the disaster on the western plains.

"Out of the Dust"
by Karen Hesse
1997, Scholastic Inc.
ISBN: 0-590-37125-8 (Papaeback)

Magazine Articles

"The Okies: Beyond the Dust Bowl"
by William Howarth,
National Geographic, September, 1984 (Volume 166, Number3), p322-349.

"The Dust Bowl"
Cobblestone, April, 2003
A children's magazine with the entire issue devoted to many aspects of the Dust Bowl.

"The Dust Bowl"
by Michael Parfit,
Smithsonian, June 1989, p44-57.


Dust Bowl Descent
by Bill Ganzel
University of Nebraska Press, 1984
ISBN: 080322107X (Hardcover)
Dust Bowl Descent is a study of then and now. In the late 1970s Ganzel went to the plains to track the people and places that were first recorded by Farm Security Administration photographers such as Arthur Rothstein. We see trees growing in farmyards that once were bare, children of the Dust Bowl grown to adulthood, struggling families who now are comfortable. The book shows members of the Coble family who still live in Cimarron County, Oklahoma. It also tells the story of Florence Thompson, the migrant mother photographed so tellingly by Dorothea Lange.

"An American Exodus: A Record of Human Erosion"
by Dorthea Lange and Paul S. Taylor
Reynal and Hitchcock, New York, 1940
Revised Edition: Yale University Press, 1969

"The Depression Years"
Arthur Rothstein,
Dover Publications, Inc., 1978
First published in 1939, An American Exodus is one of the masterpieces of the documentary genre. Produced by incomparable documentary photographer Dorothea Lange with text by her husband, Paul Taylor, An American Exodus was taken in the early 1930s while the couple were working for the Farm Security Administration (FSA).
ISBN: 0486235904 (Paperback - 119 pages)
Arthur Rothstein's photographic record of the depression included a visit to Cimarron County, Oklahoma in 1936. The Dust Bowl photographs in the book are few but powerful - farms abandoned to sand, the Coble family's race to safety during a dust storm.


"Surviving the Dust Bowl"
written and produced by Chana Gazit
co-produced and edited by David Steward
A film for "The American Experience" , a production of WGBH Boston, Mass.
1998, A Stewart/Gazit Productions, Inc.
60 min. / color & B&W

"The Plow that Broke the Plains"
produced by Pare Lorentz
1936, U.S. Government Short Film
30. min. / B&W

"Stories From the Dust Bowl"
produced by Smoky Hills Public Television
color & B&W
To Order a DVD or VHS of "Stories From The Dust Bowl" with Bonus Material Call 1-800-337-4788

"Five Great Weather Disasters"
Prepared by the Weather Channel, the brief section on the Dust Bowl originally aired on the Weather Channel. It apparently relied on Vance Johnson's Heaven's Tableland for research: it also places the April 14 Black Sunday storm in 1934, which confuses the chronology of the era.

Web Sites

"About the Dust Bowl"
A modern American poetry site.

"Between the Wars: The Dust Bowl"
The Dust Bowl in Words and Song

"Dust Bowl Days"
A Lesson Plan

"Dust Bowl Migration Digital Archives"
A Walter W. Stiern Library exhibit

"From the Dust Bowl to the Sahel"
A NASA Earth Observatory site

"The American Experience: Surviving the Dust Bowl"
http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/amex/dustbowl/ A web companion to the video by the same name.

"The Dust Bowl"
A Humanities Exhibit Featuring Documentary Photographs from the Farm Security Administration file and Companion Photographs taken in the late 1970s by Bill Ganzel Texts adapted from oral history interviews with Dust Bowl Survivors

"The Dust Bowl"
Find out a bit about the history, landscape, climate and biology of the Great Plains.

"Voices from the Dust Bowl"
A online presentation of a multi-format ethnographic field collection documenting the everyday life of residents of Farm Security Administration (FSA) migrant work camps in central California in 1940 and 1941. This collection consists of audio recordings, photographs, manuscript materials, publications, and ephemera generated during two separate documentation trips supported by the Archive of American Folk Song (now the Archive of Folk Culture, American Folklife Center).

"What is Drought?" http://www.drought.unl.edu/whatis/dustbowl.htm
Drought in the Dust Bowl Years


"Woody Guthrie -- Dust Bowl Ballads"
The Great Dust Storm -- I Aint' Got No Home -- Talking Dust Bowl Blues -- Vigilante Man -- Dust Can't Kill Me -- Dust Pneumonia Blues -- Pretty Boy Floyd -- Blowin' Down the Road (I Ain't Going to be Treated This Way) -- Tom Joad -- Dust Bowl Refugee -- Do Re Mi -- Dust Bowl Blues -- Dusty Old Dust (So Long It's Been Good to Know Yuh)

Woody Guthrie lived in Pampa in the Texas Panhandle when the dust storms were at their worst. He wrote both The Great Dust Storm and Dusty Old Dust (So Long It's Been Good to Know Yuh) about the great Black Sunday storm. He sang for all the southern plains in The Great Dust Storm: "It fell across our city like a curtain of black rolled down. We thought it was our judgment, we thought it was our doom." Dust Bowl Ballads was released by Rounder Records and is available on CD (Rounder CD 1040).


"Grapes of Wrath"
Like the novel, the movie is about the plight of those who left for California, not those who stayed in Oklahoma. A scene early in the movie shows a dust storm.

"Bound for Glory"
The beginning of this biography of Woody Guthrie shows his life in Pampa, Texas. Although a black duster rolls in, the effect isn't the total darkness of a black blizzard but a yellowish haze. The Guthries cover the windows with blankets and sit with wet cloths on their faces.

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Last modified on 03-08-04.