Painesville (Ohio) Telegraph, Wednesday, August 11, 1937
300,000 Dust Storm Migrants Converging on Crowded California
LOS ANGELES.— Between 300,000 and 400,000 migrants from the dust bowl and flood areas in the East, Middle West and South, constitute the most serious problem facing California, In the opinion of Harold W. Robertson, field secretary of the Gospel Army, a religious and welfare organization, that has made a study of the migrant and transient problems in the San Joaquin and Imperial Valleys.
“Unless immediate measures are adopted to provide medical treatment and rehabilitation, also some plan to stop this homeless horde from coming into California, by autumn this state will be facing the most serious health, moral, economic and sociological problem in its history,’ Robertson declared.
Following are his opinions, the result of his trips to Northern and Southern California, and his observations In Los Angeles county:
“These refugees are mostly from the flood and dust bowl sections of Texas, Louisiana and Arkansas, with a smattering from Kansas and Oklahoma.
“The majority of them come to California within the last six or seven months, and according to a statement recently released by the U. S. Resettlement Bureau, 100,000 are on the way. Few of these people have obtained employment. They are settled mostly in the San Joaquin and Sacramento valleys. in Los Angeles county, and in the Imperial Valley counties.
“A percentage of them come from the cotton states of the South and large numbers of these people who have had some experience with cotton, are camped in two counties where there are not jobs to take care of them
70,000 In Family Groups
“As far as I was able to determine through questioning chiefs of police, mayors and representatives of welfare organizations, approximately 70,000 migrants are camped in the valley counties in family groups. This does not include the single transient or migrant. I have been informed by members of the Los Angeles board of supervisors that the number of migrant or transient indigents in Los Angeles county is three or four times that number at the present time.
“There also is a large group camped around some of the Imperial Valley communities.
“Approximately one-half of this migrant group is of a particularly low moral caliber. Many of the adults have never had an education and are unable to sign it names to receipts for food and clothing given them by welfare associations.”
Four families, three of them related with fifteen children, from the Dust Bowl in Texas in an overnight roadside camp near Calipatria, California. March 1937; photo by Dorothea Lange; Library of Congress image.