Watch Ken Burns: The Dust Bowl
- 1 Season
Ken Burns: The Dust Bowl is a 2012 two-part documentary series that chronicles the environmentally disastrous dust bowl that took place in the 1930s, and affected the Great Plain region. The documentary was directed by Ken Burns and narrated by Peter Coyote, Patricia Clarkson and Carolyn McCormick. The Dust Bowl was a phenomenon that lasted anywhere between six and ten years depending on your geographical location. Through a witness testimony, pictures and archival footage, Ken Burns captures the devatating toll the dust storms had on the land, the people, and the long term effects that are evident even today. The dust storms were brought on by a number of issues: severe drought, cover crops, inferior farming methods, fallow fields, and methods used for wind erosion. In the early 1930s, drought and the absense of natural anchors, dried the soil and turned it to dust. That along with deep plowing methods, contributed to the soil being lifted by the winds and taken thousands of miles up into the atmosphere. Beginning in 1933, a series of powerful dust storm, known as black blizzards, pounded areas of Texas, Oklahoma, New Mexico, Colorado, and Kansas. The events lasted for hours and sometimes days. On occasion, dust traveled as far as the East Coast. The dust storms took a terrible toll on people in the region. Many people were left homeless, and were forced to leave their farms and head West in search of work. The dust bowl also affected the health of thousands of people. Men, women, and children developed respitory diseases due to ingesting the dust. The dust was particularly brutal on children and a great many died from dust pneumonia. Under the Roosevelt Administration, the Soil Conservation Service was developed to restore the land's ecological balance. The long term effects included the devaluing of land value, population dropoff, and severe bank failures.