Category Archives: Tough Guys

Women – Dust Bowl

Dust Bowl Mother and Child

The dust itself became a constant presence; one woman wrote, “We’ve been having quite a bit of blowing dirt every year since the drought started, not only here, but all over the Great Plains. Many days this spring the air is just full of dirt coming, literally, for hundreds of miles.”

This dirt greatly altered women’s lives and ideals, causing their daily lives to become struggles for their own survival and that of their families. The Dust Bowl changed women’s understanding of their lives and reshaped some women’s self-perceptions.

The demands placed upon women by the Dust Bowl led to a disruption of conventional gender responsibilities as women became increasingly responsible for the family’s well-being. These women found themselves explicitly questioning the ideals of freedom and independence that were critical aspects of their family heritage as the drought and dust storms threatened their livelihoods.

The lives they knew and loved essentially disintegrated before them as a rise in agribusiness pushed small family farming endeavors and the land itself beyond their limits, leading to a decline in the Jeffersonian agrarian ideal (a small family farm, well-ordered, industrious, proudly independent, honest and incorruptible) and contributing to an increase in failed farms and thus resettlement. The small plains society lacked any means to limit the growth of commercial farming in the area, which led to the overuse of land and a removal of grasses which, in conjunction with intense drought and wind, brought about the Dust Bowl. Source: College of William and Mary -Samantha L. Grill

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