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The Dust Bowl Exodus

The Dust Bowl exodus was the largest migration in American history that happened during the Great Depression. Although overall three out of four farmers stayed on their land, the mass exodus depleted the population drastically in certain areas. By 1940, 2.5 million people had moved out of the Plains states; of those, 200,000 moved to California.
Arriving in California, the migrants were faced with a life almost as difficult as the one they had left. Like the Joad family in John Steinbeck’s “The Grapes of Wrath”, some 40 percent of migrant farmers wound up in the San Joaquin Valley, picking grapes and cotton. They took up the work of Mexican migrant workers, 120,000 of whom were repatriated during the 1930s.
Part of the daily motorcade of drought refugees. The Montana-North Dakota state line
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Migrant agricultural worker's family. Seven children without food. Mother aged thirty-two. Father is a native Californian. Nipomo, California

Photograph shows Florence Thompson with two of her children as part of the "Migrant Mother" series. For background information, see "Dorothea Lange's M̀igrant Mother' photographs ..." http://www.loc.gov/rr/prin... more

Over this bridge drought refugees are crossing the Colorado River into California. U.S. 80 / Dorothea Lange, 1935.

Photograph shows cars crossing a bridge with a sign with the word "Yuma" on the top.

President Roosevelt with rehabilitation client. Mandan, North Dakota

Photo shows U.S. Secret Service agents: Paul Hart, center, facing left; and August "Gus" Gennerich, right (Source: Secret Service archivist, 2012)

President Roosevelt at rehabilitation client's home. Mandan, North Dakota

Photo shows U.S. Secret Service agent August "Gus" Gennerich, center right (with straw hat) (Source: Secret Service archivist, 2012)