Settlement Problem Faces Officials
Washington, April 8, 1937 (AP)—Federal relief leaders said today one of their big unsolved problems was caring for between 100,000 and 150,000 farmers and their families who left the Great Plains drought area for a new start in the Far West.
The resettlement administration and state relief leaders in California, Washington, Oregon and Utah contend the migration is a national problem calling for federal action.
A federal report described the mass movement from the region of drought and dust storms as “probably the last great migration of settlers to the Far West.”
If searing heat and rainless weather should ruin crops on the Great Plains again this year, officials predicted the migration will reach larger proportions.
Resettlement officials estimated that more than half of the families who moved to the northwest were virtually destitute, about one-fourth had saved a few hundred dollars, while a few had salvaged enough to finance purchase of a new farm.
Lack of residence requirements made federal and state relief aid difficult, the survey said, and many families spent the winter in shacks, hovels, deserted tourist camps and tents.
“Living conditions in many of these shack towns were a disgrace to civilization.” the survey said.
Squatter camp on county road near Calipatria. Forty families from the dust bowl have been camped here for months on the edge of the pea fields. There has been no work because the crop was frozen. March 1937. 2
Part of the daily motorcade of drought refugees. The Montana-North Dakota state line. July 1936.3
Oklahomans bound for Oregon along a highway in California. February 1937.4
- Reading Eagle, Reading, Pennsylvania, April 8, 1937
- Lange, Dorothea, photographer. Image retrieved from the Library of Congress, www.loc.gov/pictures/item/fsa2000000922/PP/. (Accessed October 03, 2016.)
- Rothstein, Arthur, photographer. Image retrieved from the Library of Congress, www.loc.gov/pictures/item/fsa1998019552/PP/. (Accessed October 03, 2016.)
- Lange, Dorothea, photographer. Image retrieved from the Library of Congress, www.loc.gov/pictures/item/fsa1998019552/PP/. (Accessed October 03, 2016.)
- This post was originally published June 17, 2013. It has been updated to be more “mobile friendly” and republished October 6, 2016.