The Dirty Thirties was a tough time for the United States. Drought, famine, prejudice and “black blizzards” tore families from the homes and farms and made life downright difficult in the decade. Forty-six out the then 48 states, including North Dakota and Minnesota, felt the ecological and economic effects of the Dust Bowl.
But how does what happened 80 years ago have an impact today?
The American Library Association’s Dust, Drought and Dreams Gone By traveling exhibit has the answer.
Making its second stop on a two-year trip to 25 other locations, the Oklahoma State University and Mount Holyoke College exhibit focuses on the connection between humans and nature, the human response to adversity and the relevance the disastrous time period has today.
The exhibition panels are currently displayed in the main entry hallway in the Main Library and will remain exhibited until mid-December.
The library will host screenings of the two-part, Ken Burns photo-documentary “The Dust Bowl” in the Memorial Union’s Century Theater Oct. 27 & 29 from 2:30 to 5 p.m. A discussion led by NDSU soil science professor Thomas DeSutter will follow the screenings.
“The two documentaries do a really good job in informing about the Dust Bowl and depicting what happened from first hand accounts,” said Humanitarian Librarian Lisa Eggebraaten. “They brought in a lot of people who were directly involved in the Dust Bowl to tell their stories. The displacement and diaspora of it and also when they got to those new places, how they were treated.”
Amanda Booher, libraries events and promotional coordinator, has included a special Dust Bowl speaker in the library’s monthly speaker series.
“We’re bringing in Christina Weber, a professor of sociology, to show how women were affecting in the Dust Bowl,” Booher said of the 4 p.m. event on Nov. 19 in the Main Library Weber Reading Room.
“There are some women’s journals we will be looking at because not many people think about what women were doing during the Dust Bowl,” Eggebraaten said. “You see a lot from men being leaders in agriculture during that time period, but you don’t hear much about what was happening inside the home.”
A panel of four soil scientists and a climatologist will discuss the causes and effects of the Dust Bowl and the current impact of farming and wind and soil erosion at 4 p.m. on Dec. 4.
“Since we’re in the plains region, what happened in the Dust Bowl happened here,” Eggebraaten said. “It’s a great opportunity to see how history impacts what’s happening now and make those ties in a place where farming is so prevalent.”
Even though North Dakota was not in the epicenter of the Dust Bowl, which was concentrated in the panhandle of western Oklahoma and neighboring states of Texas, Kansas, Colorado and New Mexico, it still felt the effects and experienced many dust storms.
“With our library mission, we are trying to become more academic, scholarly and interdisciplinary to bring a lot of different campus groups together,” Booher said. “For just this event, it specifically addresses agriculture, biosystems engineering and plant and soil sciences to name a few.
“We’re looking to create a conversation that’s enlightening for students, faculty and the rest of the community.”
When: Monday and Wednesday 2:30-5 p.m.
Where: Memorial Union Century Theater