Journey Through the Dust Bowl A WebQuest Exploration. Created by Holly Delduchetto EDU 505. Introduction.
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The Great Depression devastatingly impacted the entire United States (and even had negative effects on other countries), but perhaps those hurt the most were the farming families of the Great Plains. A vast drought turned the once fertile fields into acres of dust. The land grew parched; the crops dried up and blew away; agricultural prices plummeted; and violent dust storms raged through the Midwest.
Farmers had no choice but to foreclose.
Families packed up and migrated west, hoping to find work in the fertile orchards of California.
When you return, you will present a formal report to Congress on the conditions in the Dust Bowl. In addition to the report, you must keep a daily journal of your travels, including observations, stories, questions, and reflections.
Things to Consider:
For your journal entries, your writing can be personal and reflective. You can tell who you met and spoke with, what kinds of things you saw, describe any dust storms you experienced, mention what you brought with you, what you ate, where you slept, etc.
For the formal report, your language and style must be more professional. This is where you tie together all the things you have learned. It should be concise, direct, and you may include facts and figures. You need to deliver your information to Congress in a way that is brief, informative, yet compelling.
A set of daily journal entries (minimum 10)
A concise report to deliver to the U.S. Congress
Here are the steps to follow along your journey. Think of it as a plan or an itinerary. The websites (resources) that you must visit are woven throughout the process description. I have recommended items from each site that are particularly helpful, informative, and interesting. Feel free to explore any other parts of the sites you visit! The process steps are meant to guide you during the trip, but by all means, linger and learn even more if you wish!
Okay, grab your luggage! The train is leaving!
Warning: It’s not going to be this green where you’re going!
You can connect directly to the websites by using the right click button on your mouse and selecting “open hyperlink.”
Skim the oral history interviews with people who survived the Depression. You’ll find great firsthand, true accounts here.
You’ll find dozens more interviews here, plus photographs of some of the people whose stories you will read. These oral history sites are the way you will “talk” to the Dust Bowl residents for your journal and report.
Read about the causes of drought, how farmers coped with it, and what we learned from the severe conditions our nation endured during the 1930s.
Peruse the “Timeline of the Great Depression.”
Here is an excellent site from the Library of Congress. It provides many details about refugees who left the Dust Bowl in the hopes of finding work in California. Try out some of the links. Look through the photo galleries and listen to songs from the Great Depression.
A family from Oklahoma migrating to California.
View photographs from the Farm Security Administration (FSA)
Take some time to browse this collection of Depression-era photographs. Particularly take note of the photos under the headings “Dust Storms,” “Farms for Sale,” “Relocating: On the Road,” and “Migrant Workers.”
Read the excerpts from “Farming the Dust Bowl,” a memoir by Lawrence Svobida, a Kansas wheat farmer who braved the drought, gusty winds, and inescapable dust of the Great Plains in the 1930s.
Read about “Black Sunday” (April 14, 1935).
In the search box in the upper right corner, type in “Cimarron County” and you’ll be able to view some striking black and white photographs. This county in Oklahoma was struck very severely by the droughts.
Read about what President Roosevelt’s New Deal programs did to bring relief.
You will receive two grades for this project: one for the journal and one for the Congressional report. Do not worry about delivering your report to Congress. That’s for another lesson! I’m looking at the written material only. Remember, your style of writing will be different for the journal and for the report.
I need to see evidence that you’ve explored the sites!
Report to Congress
It wasn’t until the fall of 1939 that rain watered the Dust Bowl, bringing an end to the drought. Farmers could reap harvests once again. The people of the Great Plains felt tremendous gratitude towards President Roosevelt and his New Deal programs that helped them endure the years of drought.