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The most enduring image of rural America during the Great Depression is one of dust and human migration. This image was formed in the nation’s heartland, where the people of the Great Plains and Southwest suffered both natural and economic disasters during the 1930s.
Decades of intensive farming and inattention to soil conservation had left this region ecologically vulnerable. A long drought that began in the early 1930s triggered a disaster. The winds that swept across the plains carried away its dry, depleted topsoil in enormous dust storms. Dramatic and frightening, the dust storms turned day into night as they destroyed farms. The hardest hit area — covering parts of Nebraska, Kansas, Colorado, New Mexico and the Texas Panhandle — was nicknamed the “Dust Bowl.”
During December and January, the Los Alamos Historical Museum will exhibit “This Great Nation Will Endure: Photographs of the Great Depression” over two-dozen documentary photographs from the Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum will be on display. Many photos are by Farm Security Administration photographers Russell Lee and Dorothea Lange.
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