Heavy black clouds of dust rising over the Texas Panhandle, Texas. Photograph by Arthur Rothstein, March 1936.
Land and Lives Turned to Dust by Jeff Bridgers
In the 1930s, agricultural practices that replaced native prairie grasses with cash crops such as wheat and corn, combined with overgrazing cattle by ranchers, turned out to have devastating consequences for farm families, centered initially in Oklahoma and the Texas Panhandle.
An extended multi-year drought prompted wind erosion that sent topsoil blowing black-dust clouds across the unobstructed plains as far east as New York and Washington, DC.
Black-and-white photographs taken by Arthur Rothstein and Dorothea Lange from the Library’s Farm Security Administration – Office of War Information Photograph Collection, capture the blowing dust and the stark desolation on abandoned farms in Texas and Oklahoma.
Dust storm. Oklahoma. Photograph by Arthur Rothstein, March 1936.