Saturday, September 7, 2013

Dust Bowl Photography: Arthur Rothstein

PBR Book Clubbers have jumped on the wagon with the rest of Lawrence and are reading The Worst Hard Time by Timothy Egan.  The 1930's Dust Bowl region suffered severe drought and ecological damage from  over-farming. At times, the book reads like a horror novel. Severe dust storms spread across the region and cause sickness and death in people and animals.

The Worst Hard Time  includes description of Dust Bowl photography taken by the Photo Unit of FDR's Historical Section of The Resettlement Administration and by AP photographers via The Denver Post. Arthur Rothstein was one of the photographers who shot photos in Kansas, Oklahoma, and Texas.  Rothstein was hired by his graduate professor Roy Striker who was head of the government's Photo Unit.  Rothstein's photos are iconic and considered leading photojournalistic documents of life during the Dust Bowl.

Here are some of the photos mentioned in the book ( Photos and text taken from

Farmer and sons walking in the face of a dust storm in Cimarron County, Oklahoma. An Arkansas farmer and his sons are shown in 1936 in the dust bowl. Photo/Arthur Rothstein/

About to be engulfed in a gigantic dust cloud is a peaceful little ranch in Boise City, Oklahoma where the top soil is being dried and blown away. This photo was taken on April 15, 1935. (AP Photo)

Son of farmer in dust bowl area in Cimarron County, Oklahoma. Photo by Arthur Rothstein

The winds of the "dust bowl" have piled up large drifts of soil against this farmer's barn near Liberal, Kansas. Photo by Arthur Rothstein

In this March 29, 1937 file photo, the desolation in this part of the Dust Bowl is graphically illustrated by these rippling dunes banked against a fence, farm home, barn and windmill in Guymon, Oklahoma. This property was abandoned by its owner when destructive dust clouds forced him to seek fortune elsewhere. (AP Photo)

Dust bowl farmer raising fence to keep it from being buried under drifting sand in Cimarron County, Oklahoma. Photo by Arthur Rothstein 

Other art mentioned in the book: 

Photo still from "The Plow That Broke the Plains"

Alexandre Hogue "Drought Survivors" is the painting that Texans wanted to burn 

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for review, it was excellent and very informative.
    thank you :)