This Sunday on PBS starts a 2-part Ken Burns series about the Dust Bowl! I plan to watch it. Though I had no family affected by this disaster, I am very curious to learn more about it – both what caused it and also how it impacted those directly affected. The extent of my knowledge are the hardships conveyed in The Grapes of Wrath (by John Steinbeck) which I was required to read in high school. Though I did find it a gripping tale (even if unfathomable to a New Englander) I didn't have the perspective I have now of more fully appreciating how scary natural disasters can be, the hardships that result and the impact on genealogical research which may ensue.
Talk about a huge natural disaster that affected many and did ultimately lead to further westward migration for some families.
Learn more about the PBS program here, http://www.pbs.org/kenburns/dustbowl/about/overview/. As always with PBS, you will find a tremendous amount of resources here.
I also discovered a few websites which talk about genealogical research and suggest some resources that might help you if you are doing family history research for ancestors who migrated as a result of the Dust Bowl.
- Dust Bowl Days: the Oklahoma-California Genealogy Connection
- Tracing the Grapes of Wrath Refugees
- Surviving the Dust Bowl (another PBS program)
- Dust Bowl (Wikipedia article)
- The Dust Bowl (LOC Teacher Resource Materials)
- California Odyssey: Dust Bowl Migration Archives
Were your ancestors affected? Share their story!
Do you know of other resources that might help your fellow genealogists research Dust Bowl refugees? If so, please share.
Editor’s Note: Why researching this piece, I came across a neat piece titled “The Weather Report,” 12/9/2009, By Maureen A. Taylor. Find out how 10 extreme weather events changed your ancestors' lives. It mentions the Dust Bowl and 9 other catastrophic weather events.
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