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Kansas Memory has been created by the Kansas State Historical Society to share its historical collections via the Internet. Read more.

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Curriculum - 11th Grade Standards - Kansas History Standards - 1930-1945 (Kansas_Benchmark 2) - Dust Bowl experiences (Indicator 1) - Dust storms

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A Dust Cloud Rolling Over the Prairies (near Hugoton, Kansas)

A Dust Cloud Rolling Over the Prairies (near Hugoton, Kansas)
Creator: Stovall Studio
Date: April 14, 1935
This is a photograph of a dust cloud rolling over the prairie near Hugoton, Kansas. Southwest Kansas was among the hardest hit areas during the Dust Bowl. Dust storms, such as the one depicted here, could blow for a full day, coating everything in their path with a layer of dirt. It was taken by the Stovall Studio in Dodge City, Kansas on Sunday April 14, 1935. It is labeled #3.


Approaching Dust Storm in Middle West

Approaching Dust Storm in Middle West
Creator: Conard, Frank Durnell, 1884-1966
Date: 1935
This is a view of an approaching dust storm somewhere on the southern Plains. The photograph was taken by Frank D. ("Pop") Conard, a well known photographer in Garden City, Kansas. Dust storms, such as this one, rolled over the the southern Great Plains from 1932-1936, removing top soil from agricultural lands and prompting important changes in agricultural practice. The image is labeled #24 Conard.


Approaching dust storm

Approaching dust storm
Creator: Conard, Frank Durnell, 1884-1966
Date: Between 1935 and 1936
A photograph of an approaching dust storm in the Middle West; most likely in southwest Kansas. The southwest corner of the state was one of the hardest hit areas during the Dust Bowl. Dust storms, such as this one, rolled over the the southern Great Plains from 1932-1936, removing top soil from agricultural lands and prompting important changes in agricultural practice.


Black Friday meets its master

Black Friday meets its master
Creator: Garden City Daily Telegram
Date: April 10, 1935
Several articles about life in the Dust Bowl can be found on the front page of this newspaper from Garden City. Articles of particular interest include two articles on "raging dusters," one on the winter wheat crop, and a brief article discussing the postponement of community meetings to distribute aid under the soil erosion program. The newspaper also includes articles about other newsworthy events occurring in Garden City and around the state of Kansas.


Citizens wearing dust masks in Liberal, Kansas

Citizens wearing dust masks in Liberal, Kansas
Date: 1935
In this photograph, residents of Liberal, Seward County, have donned gas masks to protect their lungs from blowing dust. The photograph was taken in front of the Red Cross building in Liberal, Kansas.


Couple lost in dust, wander thruout night

Couple lost in dust, wander thruout night
Creator: Topeka Capital
Date: March 19, 1935
This article describes the harrowing experience of the Modlins, a couple from Esbon, Kansas, whose car was forced off the road during a dust storm. After leaving the car to seek help, the couple got lost in a cornfield. Mrs. Modlin suffered from cuts to her legs and injury to her eyes from the blowing dust.


Dust clouds rolling over the prairies, Hugoton, Kansas

Dust clouds rolling over the prairies, Hugoton, Kansas
Creator: Stovall Studio
Date: April 14, 1935
This is a postcard view of a dust storm rolling over Hugoton, Kansas, on Sunday, April 14, 1935. Southwest Kansas was among the hardest hit areas during the Dust Bowl. Dust storms, such as this one, rolled over the southern Great Plains from 1932-1936, removing top soil from agricultural lands and prompting important changes in agricultural practice. The photograph was taken by Stovall Studio, Dodge City, Kansas, and is labeled #5.


Dust storm's sweep awe-inspiring, fearful, yet beautiful, says Mrs. Doane

Dust storm's sweep awe-inspiring, fearful, yet beautiful, says Mrs. Doane
Creator: Topeka Capital
Date: February 28, 1935
This brief article includes excerpts from a letter written by Gertrude Fay Doane, a grade-school teacher in Winona, Kansas. She vividly describes a dust storm that hit her schoolhouse, writing that "clouds, rolling like smoke from the horizon high into the heavens, interspersed by sheets of dark blue, were being driven by some horrible force onward toward us." Doane also recounts the next day's rabbit drive and applauds the optimism of western Kansans in the midst of the Dust Bowl.


Dust storm, Morton County, Kansas

Dust storm, Morton County, Kansas
Date: Between 1933 and 1937
This photograph depicts an approaching dust storm in Morton County, Kansas, during the 1930s. Morton County, in the southwest corner of the state, was among the hardest hit areas during the Dust Bowl. Dust storms, such as the one depicted here, could blow for a full day, coating everything in their path with a layer of dirt.


Dust storm collection

Dust storm collection
Creator: Kansas Authors Club
Date: 1934
This collection of poems, written during the Dust Bowl of the 1930s, provides insight into the hardships of daily life in drought-stricken Kansas. The poets' subjects range from harsh despair created by persistent dust storms to thankful verses about much-needed rain. The poems appeared in the Kansas Author's Bulletin.


Dust storm in Topeka, Kansas

Dust storm in Topeka, Kansas
Date: March 20, 1935
Although Topeka lay outside the area affected most by the Dust Bowl, residents of Topeka did suffer from blinding dust storms. This photograph depicts a particularly fierce storm that hit Topeka on March 20, 1935. The photograph was looking north on Kansas Avenue from 7th Street.


Dust storm so severe Kansans were lost in yard of own farm home

Dust storm so severe Kansans were lost in yard of own farm home
Creator: Topeka Journal
Date: March 23, 1935
This article recounts the harrowing experience of Mr. and Mrs. Francis Blender of Monument, Logan County, who were caught unprepared during a dust storm in 1935. The couple was trying to round up their chickens to put them in the hen house when the storm hit, and they quickly became disoriented by the dense, blowing dirt. Luckily they safely found their way to the house.


Kansas Emergency Relief Committee accomplishments movie

Kansas Emergency Relief Committee accomplishments movie
Creator: Kansas. Emergency Relief Commission
Date: 1936
This motion picture film documents the various work projects completed in Kansas during President Franklin Roosevelt's New Deal. It begins with an introduction to the Kansas Emergency Relief Committee personnel, starting with the executive director, John G. Stutz. It then shows the various projects across the state, including the construction of farm ponds and lakes as part of the Water Conservation Program, the renovation and construction of courthouses, schools, libraries, and other public buildings, and the weaving and sewing rooms that produced clothing for needy Kansans. It also includes footage of rabbit drives, dust storms, and women sweeping piles of dust out of their homes. Click on the thumbnails below to play each clip. Click on Text Version for a detailed description of each chapter.


Kansas dust in layers

Kansas dust in layers
Creator: Kansas City Times
Date: March 20, 1935
This brief article describes the difficulties farm women faced when trying to keep a clean house in the Dust Bowl. No matter how well families tried to prevent dust from blowing into their houses, the persistent, fine dust worked its way into every nook and cranny.


Kansas grit

Kansas grit
Creator: Strode, Josephine
Date: August 1936
Josephine Strode, a social worker in western Kansas, wrote this brief account of how Kansans coped during the 1930s Dust Bowl. She expresses the concerns of social workers who believe that government programs were not doing enough to relieve the burdens relief clients faced. The article also includes some popular "tall tales" circulating in the Dust Bowl. The article appeared in The Survey.


Map showing locations of lakes and ponds in Kansas

Map showing locations of lakes and ponds in Kansas
Creator: Kansas. State Board of Agriculture. Division of Water Resources
Date: 1936
This map of Kansas, created by geologist Ogden Jones for the State Board of Agriculture, Division of Water Resources, depicts the lakes and farm ponds in each county. At the bottom are notations about the Kansas Emergency Relief Committee, which had allocated funds that built 95% of the farm ponds in existence. The map was included in a drought report to Governor Alf Landon, dated August 28, 1936.


One Kansas man making a living off dust havoc

One Kansas man making a living off dust havoc
Creator: Topeka Journal
Date: August 16, 1935
This very brief article describes how Fred Bailey, an enterprising citizen of Dodge City, Ford County, began a business for "dusting" attics. Thanks to the dust storms of the 1930s, many houses had layers of heavy dust in their attics that could potentially cause the ceiling to collapse. Bailey vacuumed the dust out of 227 homes over the course of the summer, removing from one to two tons of dust from each attic.


Southwest dust storms produce much electrical energy

Southwest dust storms produce much electrical energy
Creator: Kansas City Times
Date: February 20, 1937
According to this article, the dust storms that swept through Kansas during the "dirty thirties" generated high levels of electricity. Fred Ellis, a Western Union telegraph operator who was interviewed for this article, contributes this rise in electricity to the friction caused by dust particles swirling together into dust storms.


The Black Sunday of April 14, 1935

The Black Sunday of April 14, 1935
Creator: Grey, Pauline Winkler
Date: 1950
In this reminiscence, Pauline Winkler Grey of Meade County recounts the raging dust storm that hit western Kansas on April 14, 1935. Her retelling includes information about how she prepared for an impending dust storm and how the blowing dust affected the residents of western Kansas. In particular, her account of the storm itself powerfully displays the ferocity of these storms that swept through the Dust Bowl. This volume of the Pioneer Stories of Meade County was sponsored by the Meade County Council of Women's Clubs.


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