Homelessness in Oklahoma in 1939 – photographs from the Dust Bowl

The Dust Bowl, also known as the Dirty Thirties, was a period of severe dust storms that greatly damaged the ecology and agriculture of the US and Canadian prairies during the 1930s; severe drought and a failure to apply dry land farming methods to prevent wind erosion.

Farmer and sons walking in the face of a dust storm. Cimarron County, Oklahoma April 1936 by photographer Arthur Rothstein

Farmer and sons walking in the face of a dust storm. Cimarron County, Oklahoma Apr. 1936 Cimarron, Oklahoma

Dust bowl 1936 abandoned farm by Arthur RothsteinDust bowl 1936 abandoned farm by Arthur Rothstein2

Dust bowl 1936 abandoned farm by Arthur Rothstein

Dust bowl 1936 abandoned farm by Arthur Rothstein

More than 500,000 Americans were left homeless. Over 350 houses had to be torn down after one storm alone. The severe drought and dust storms had left many homeless, others had their mortgages foreclosed by banks, and others felt they had no choice but to abandon their farms in search of work.

During the drought of the 1930s, the unanchored soil turned to dust, which the prevailing winds blew away in huge clouds that sometimes blackened the sky. These choking billows of dust – named “black blizzards” or “black rollers” – traveled cross country, reaching as far as such East Coast cities as New York City and Washington, D.C. On the Plains, they often reduced visibility to 3 feet or less.

Dust storm approaching Lubbock, Texas May 1939 by photographer Russell Lee

Dust storm approaching Lubbock, Texas May 1939 by photographer Russell Lee

Associated Press reporter Robert E. Geiger happened to be in Boise City, Oklahoma to witness the “Black Sunday” black blizzards of April 14, 1935; Edward Stanley, Kansas City news editor of the Associated Press coined the term “Dust Bowl” while rewriting Geiger’s news story.

The drought came in three waves, 1934, 1936, and 1939–40, but some regions of the High Plains experienced drought conditions for as many as eight years.

Covered trailer in community camp. Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

Covered trailer in community camp. Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

Home of family in Mays Avenue camp, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma May 1939Home of family in May's Avenue camp, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma May 1939

Harness and rope on back of covered trailer in Mays Avenue camp. Oklahoma City, OklahomaHarness and rope on back of covered trailer in Mays Avenue camp. Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

The severe drought and dust storms had left many homeless, others had their mortgages foreclosed by banks, and others felt they had no choice but to abandon their farms in search of work.

Woman living in camp near Mays Avenue, Her husband fought in WWI but denied work relief benefits, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

Woman living in camp near Mays Avenue. Oklahoma City, Oklahoma2

Detail of roof of shack in community camp. Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

Detail of roof of shack in community camp. Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

Top of oil truck made of old carpets. Boy is unloading discarded crates and overripe vegetables which he found in city market.Top of oil truck made of old carpets. Boy is unloading discarded crates and overripe vegetables which he found in city market.

Old plows and wornout tires. Testimonial to the sources of the residents of the community camp. Oklahoma City, OklahomaOld plows and wornout tires. Testimonial to the sources of the residents of the community camp. Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

Shoes were a premium in Mays Camp. Many suffered from foot injuries from the dump.

Mother bandaging toe of her son which was cut in debris of Mays Avenue camp. Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

Mother bandaging toe of her son which was cut in debris of Mays Avenue camp. Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

Mother of child pointing to his cut toe, injured while playing in trash and debris of camp. Mays Avenue camp, Oklahoma City, OklahomaMother of child pointing to his cut toe, injured while playing in trash and debris of camp. Mays Avenue camp, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

Resident of Mays Avenue camp taking out a piece of glass from boy’s footResident of Mays Avenue camp taking out a piece of glass from boy's foot2

Resident of Mays Avenue camp, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, taking piece of glass out of boy’s footResident of Mays Avenue camp, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, taking piece of glass out of boy's foot.

The children did not have a safe place to play or clothes that fit and they rarely had decent meal.

Baby with his bottle in shack home near Mays Avenue camp. Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

Baby with his bottle in shack home near Mays Avenue camp. Oklahoma City,

Daughter of water peddler in community camp, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, asleep. She is covered with old curtain to protect her from fliesDaughter of water peddler in community camp, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, asleep. She is covered with old curtain to protect her from flies

Child in Mays Avenue camp, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, eating an overripe canteloupe found in marketChild in Mays Avenue camp, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, eating an overripe canteloupe found in market

Children of Mays Avenue camp. Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. Their father is a trasher and they are playing with some things he picked upChildren of Mays Avenue camp. Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. Their father is a trasher and they are playing with some things he picked up

Man with his daughter sitting on bed which is outdoors under bridge in Mays Avenue camp. Notice goat and livestock behind themMan with his daughter sitting on bed which is outdoors under bridge in Mays Avenue camp.

Covering milk with wet cloth in order to keep it cool. Many residents of this camp sneak into stockyards early in the morning to milk cows.covering milk with wet cloth in order to keep it cool. Many residents of this camp sneak into stockyards early in the morning to milk cows.

Woman in shack home in community camp. Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. Straightening her son’s hairWoman in shack home in community camp. Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. Straightening her son's hair

Little girl and her baby brother reading Bible, community camp, Oklahoma City, OklahomaLittle girl and her baby brother reading Bible, community camp, Oklahoma City,

Young married girl living in Mays Avenue camp patching her husband’s overallsYoung married girl living in Mays Avenue camp patching her husband's overalls.

Not all migrants traveled long distances; some simply went to the next town or county. So many families left their farms and were on the move that the proportion between migrants and residents was nearly equal in the Great Plains states.

Many still managed to smile in spite of their dire circumstances and they were proud of their children

Young girl holding baby brother in her arms, community camp, Oklahoma City, OklahomaYoung girl holding baby brother in her arms, community camp, Oklahoma City

Wife of carpenter and her baby who live in community camp, Oklahoma City, OklahomaWife of carpenter and her baby who live in community camp, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma2

Couple with their firstborn. Community camp, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. He did odd jobs. Has never farmed for himself or had a regular jobCouple with their firstborn. Community camp, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. He did odd jobs. Has never farmed for himself or had a regular job

 This German farmer below has seen a lot of troubles since he arrived in Oklahoma.

Old German living in community camp. Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. He moved to the state in its young days and watched the state grow up.

Old German living in community camp. Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. He moved to the state in its young days and watched the state grow up.

Old German living in community camp. Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. He moved to the state in its young days and watched the state grow up. July 1939
Old German, resident of community camp. Oklahoma City, Oklahoma july 1939

Old German living in community camp. Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. He moved to the state in its young days and watched the state grow up.

The young woman below shared the feeling of many in Mays Camp in 1939.

“We may not have much of a home here but we will have one in Heaven.” Community camp, Oklahoma City, OklahomaWe may not have much of a home here but we will have one in Heaven. Community camp, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

Check out books by Donna R. Causey

 

RIBBON OF LOVE: 2nd edition – A Novel of Colonial America  – the true story of religion in America –Inspired by true historical events, Mary and Henry Pattenden flee to America to escape persecution –  It is almost impossible to put the book down until completion. – Dr. Don P. Brandon, Retired Professor, Anderson University 

 

 

RIBBON OF LOVE: 2nd edition – A Novel of Colonial America (Tapestry of Love Book 1): Book 1 in Tapestry of Love Series


By (author): Donna R Causey

New 2nd edition – edited and revised in 2015

Inspired by actual people and historical events! Based on the Cottingham ancestors of Bibb County, Alabama.

Coming from diverse cultural backgrounds and separated from the mainland by the Chesapeake Bay, the real world of the settlers of “The Kingdom of Accawmacke” is revealed and secrets about America’s history are discovered in this well-researched novel. Actual court records dating back to the early 1630’s create historical accuracy as the reader is taken back to the primitive days of colonial America where the Pattendens encounter life-changing difficulties with Indians, ducking stools, illness, massacres, death, loneliness, love, and greed.

“We’re all going to die!” echoed from below deck amid the frenzied screams and cries from terrified women and children between decks. Sounds of chaos below deck filled the air as the hands scrambled to free the foremast before it broke through the ship. “Quickly, men” We need to free that fore-mast now!” bellowed Captain Potts. “But, by God be careful, we don’t want to lose another man!”

The Pattenden’s inspiring story begins in 17th century England during the reign of Charles I and continues with their journey to the eastern shore of Virginia where they experience joy, tragedy and loss. Based on actual court records and historical events, RIBBON OF LOVE is a work of fiction that provides the reader with a glimpse of life in 17th century England and Virginia.

REVIEWS FROM READERS:

 

Ribbon of Love was a wonderful love story of Henry and Mary living and struggling to succeed as one of the first families in the colony of Virginia in the 1600s. In addition to the love story, the descriptions of the clothing, home furnishings, personalities, family life, church and community are most intriguing. The exhilarating action and subplots keep the reader in constant anticipation. It is almost impossible to put the book down until completion. – Dr. Don P. Brandon, Retired Professor, Anderson University 

List Price: Price Not Listed
Kindle Edition: Check Amazon for Pricing Digital Only

About Donna R Causey

Donna R. Causey, resident of Alabama, was a teacher in the public school system for twenty years. When she retired, Donna found time to focus on her lifetime passion for historical writing. She developed the websites www.alabamapioneers and www.daysgoneby.me

All her books can be purchased at Amazon.com and Barnes & Noble.

She has authored numerous genealogy books.
RIBBON OF LOVE: A Novel Of Colonial America (TAPESTRY OF LOVE)
is her first novel in the Tapestry of Love about her family where she uses actual characters, facts, dates and places to create a story about life as it might have happened in colonial Virginia. Faith and Courage: Tapestry of Love (Volume 2)
is the second book and the third FreeHearts: A Novel of Colonial America (Book 3 in the Tapestry of Love Series)
Discordance: The Cottinghams (Volume 1)
is the continuation of the story. .

For a complete list of books, visit Donna R Causey

2 Responses to Homelessness in Oklahoma in 1939 – photographs from the Dust Bowl

  1. Pingback: Dust Bowl Photos – The Unger Games

  2. Pingback: Dust Bowl | Melissa's Blog

Leave a Reply

Please use your real name instead of you company name or keyword spam.