Dust, Drought, and Dreams Gone Dry is a project for public, academic and special libraries about the Dust Bowl. The project features a traveling exhibition of 300 square feet and a series of programs designed to help public audiences engage in discussions about the human and ecological consequences of one of America’s most disastrous environmental experiences. The exhibit and programs feature several overlapping humanities themes: the nature of the connection between humans and nature, the many ways human beings respond to adversity; and how people came to understand and to describe the experience of living in the Plains during the Dust Bowl.
The ALA Public Programs Office, the Oklahoma State University (OSU) Library, and the Mount Holyoke College (MHC) Library developed the project, drawing upon OSU’s “Women in the Dust Bowl,” online oral histories of Dust Bowl survivors, and the MHC’s Caroline Henderson papers—letters, essays, and articles by a woman who farmed throughout the Dust Bowl period. Ken Burns’s film, The Dust Bowl, is also an inspiration for the project.
Dust, Drought, and Dreams Gone Dry is made possible in part by the National Endowment for the Humanities: Exploring the Human Endeavor. The twenty-five selected sites will present the exhibition and associated public programs in their communities for a period of six weeks. All sites selected for the project will receive a grant of $1,200 for expenses related to public programs.