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Curriculum - 7th Grade Standards - Kansas History Standards - 1930s to 1940s (Benchmark 5) - Agriculture and the Dust Bowl (Indicator 1) - Drought and dust storms

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Approaching dust storm

Approaching dust storm
Date: Around 1935
This undated photograph captures a large dust storm about to hit this family's homestead. These storms were frequent occurrences in western Kansas during the 1930s Dust Bowl.


Chapter IV: Destructive effects of undesirable tendencies, in The future of the Great Plains: Report of the Great Plains Committee

Chapter IV: Destructive effects of undesirable tendencies, in The future of the Great Plains: Report of the Great Plains Committee
Creator: Great Plains Committee
Date: December, 1936
This report was created by the Great Plains Committee, which had been called by President Roosevelt to investigate the effects of drought and wind erosion in the southwestern United States. Chapter IV of the report, titled "Destructive Effects of Undesirable Tendencies," outlines some of the major problems in this region, composed of North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, Colorado, Wyoming, and Montana. These problems included the decreasing amount of range land, soil erosion, and the depletion of ground water. A large part of the chapter deals with relief efforts and homestead rehabilitation. It also contains illustrations and tables that provide comparative data on the situation in each of these states.


Chapter V: Attitudes of mind, in The future of the Great Plains: Report of the Great Plains Committee

Chapter V: Attitudes of mind, in The future of the Great Plains: Report of the Great Plains Committee
Creator: Great Plains Committee
Date: December 1936
This report was created by the Great Plains Committee, which had been called by the President to investigate the effects of drought and wind erosion in the southwestern United States. For the purposes of the committee, the Great Plains region was composed of North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, Colorado, Wyoming, and Montana. In Chapter V, the committee argues that farmers' lack of understanding about effective agricultural techniques, combined with severe drought, had created the critical situation that existed during the Dust Bowl. Certain "attitudes of mind," such as the idea that natural resources are inexhaustible, were the root cause of farmers' problems. The chapter outlines some of these attitudes and assumptions that had proved to be unreliable.


Drifts of dust

Drifts of dust
Creator: Stovall Studio
Date: 1935
This image illustrates drifts of dust in Ford County deposited during the raging storms that swept the area during the Dust Bowl. The drifts have grown large enough to smother the farm machinery, which has fallen into disuse since the drought. The photograph was taken by Stovall Studio, dodge City, Kansas, and is labeled #10.


Farmer shoveling heavy dust

Farmer shoveling heavy dust
Date: Between 1934 and 1936
This photograph shows a farmer shoveling dust from implements and uncovering food for livestock. The dust began to blow in 1933 and for four years western Kansas was part of the "Dust Bowl".


Ghost cornfield

Ghost cornfield
Date: 1934
This photograph, taken in Barber County at the height of the Dust Bowl, demonstrates the effects of severe drought. Cornfields such as these also contributed to blowing dust because the root systems of corn plants were too shallow to hold loose dirt in place.


Harry Umberger to Governor Alf Landon

Harry Umberger to Governor Alf Landon
Creator: Umberger, Harry
Date: July 18, 1934
This letter from Harry Umberger, the Director of Extension at Kansas State Agricultural College (now Kansas State University), accompanied a map designating the drought relief counties as of July 1934. The map indicates the primary and secondary drought relief counties suffering the most through the Great Depression and Dust Bowl of the 1930s. The map includes a key to explain the highlighted portions.


Harry Umberger to Willard Mayberry

Harry Umberger to Willard Mayberry
Creator: Umberger, Harry
Date: December 23, 1933
This letter from Harry Umberger, the Director of Extension at Kansas State College (now Kansas State University), was addressed to Willard Mayberry, secretary to Gov. Alf Landon. The letter discusses the reduction of railroad transportation rates for livestock feed, because the depression, combined with the droughts of the 1930s, had made it difficult for farmers to feed their livestock. Umberger recommended that the rates be reduced for at least thirty days (preferably sixty days) in order to keep stock alive during the winter. The letter is accompanied by a state map labeling the counties who needed these rates, with the red shaded section indicating which counties were in the greatest need.


Howard Bucknell to Governor Alfred Landon

Howard Bucknell to Governor Alfred Landon
Creator: Bucknell, Howard
Date: June 2, 1934
In this letter Howard Bucknell, president of the Jewell County Farm Bureau, updates Governor Landon on the drought situation in his county. There was an acute water shortage, forcing Jewell county farmers to request aid from the relief funds being distributed by the state.


Summary forward, in The future of the Great Plains: Report of the Great Plains Committee

Summary forward, in The future of the Great Plains: Report of the Great Plains Committee
Creator: Great Plains Committee
Date: December 1936
This report was created by the Great Plains Committee, which had been called by the President to investigate the effects of drought and wind erosion in the southwestern United States. For the purposes of the committee, the Great Plains was defined as the states of North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, Colorado, Wyoming, and Montana. The forward to the report, included here, states the purpose of the report and the steps that must be taken to solve this problem, both on the federal level and the state level. These steps include the development of water resources, government purchase of range lands, control of erosion, community organization, and legislation regarding tenancy, leasing, and delinquency.


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