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Dust, Drought, and Dreams Gone Dry

Dust Bowl logo

Exhibit Dates

Exhibit on display at Booth Library January 11-February 26, 2016.

About the Exhibit

Beth Heldebrandt and Kirstin Duffin talk about the exhibit on WCIA's "CI Living."

In the 1930s, people on the Great Plains endured one of America’s most destructive ecological disasters—the Dust Bowl. What caused fertile farms to turn to dust? How did people survive? What lessons can we learn from the Dust Bowl?

We can find answers to these questions in the region’s history and geography. Centuries of human interaction with the environment intensified between 1850 and 1930 as farmers believed that they could overcome the area’s variable weather and climate. The 1930s disaster taught them that they were wrong. However, people survived the dust and the drought by forging new community ties and by embracing new government programs. People also discovered a new respect for the power of nature. The Dust Bowl experience demonstrates the complex relationship between humans and the dynamic Great Plains environment.

Dust, Drought and Dreams Gone Dry was developed by the American Library Association Public Programs Office in collaboration with the libraries of Oklahoma State University and Mount Holyoke College. The exhibition and tour were made possible in part by a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities: Exploring the human endeavor.


Booth Library
Eastern Illinois University
American Library Association
National Endowment for the Humanities
O State Library