Americans View Their Dust Bowl Experience

Americans View Their Dust Bowl Experience

Americans View Their Dust Bowl Experience

Americans View Their Dust Bowl Experience

Synopsis

This is an important gathering of first-person accounts of the trauma of the 1930s in the Heartland, collected together and assessed by historians from the distance of several decades. Many Americans tell their stories in this book about the Dust Bowl, arguably one of the greatest environmental disasters ever to befall the United States. Their works tell of suffering and resilience, of terrible loss and cautious hope, and of defeat and defiance. The book also looks at the solutions they found for dealing with their plight, including everything from simply packing up and leaving their homes to finding scientific ways to work with, rather than against, the land to embracing radical political solutions. Divided into a section of contemporary accounts and a second of retrospective analysis, this book will be of interest to scholars in the field of Western History and the general reader seeking to learn more about what it was like to live in and through the Depression-era Dust Bowl.

Excerpt

This book began thirty-plus years ago. Prior to 1960, the American Historical Association (AHA) published a number of document-based monographs, and Vernon Carstensen, then a professor of history at the University of Wisconsin—Madison, was invited to prepare documents and a narrative reflecting on the nature of the Dust Bowl experience. He did so promptly, but in the interim the AHA discontinued the series.

When John Wunder accepted an appointment at the University of Nebraska—Lincoln, Vernon Carstensen (VC to his students) sent the documents, his editorial comments, and his unpublished essay on the film The Plow That Broke the Plains to his former student. VC reasoned that because Wunder was now director of the Center for Great Plains Studies, the center might find the material of interest. Wunder thought his mentor's work had significant merit, and he sought the advice of the editor of the Great Plains Quarterly, Frances Kaye. Kaye agreed with Wunder and suggested that the documents and comments be supplemented with articles already published in the Quarterly and other articles selected from other journals. In due course, five Quarterly articles were selected for inclusion, along with two articles from North Dakota History and one article each from Annals of Iowa, Nebraska History, Agricultural History, South Dakota History, and Montana, Magazine of Western History.

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