Dustbowls, Documentaries, and Dorothea Lange


I was going through a family history and recollections that my Uncle and Mother have written. They completed this remembrance of their growing up years as a way to preserve some family history for future generations. Its actually quite cool. Handwritten and hand drawn genealogical charts, Civil and Revolutionary war tales, Depression era stories. The whole gamut. A very interesting read. Below is a small excerpt from my mothers memory…

Dustbowl 1

As an aside, if you have not seen the exceptional movie that Ken Burns made,

You should! It just brings home the extraordinary circumstances that forged and shaped a whole generation of people. Including my parents. And then us, the following generation.

One of the chronologers of that era was an amazing photographer named Dorothea Lange. You can see her amazing work all over the place. I like the albums on Shorpy the best. In my opinion she captured the anguish and worry of a segment of America that nobody else could. Pictures like hers can only be made with empathy and compassion. Not to mention her compositional skills and perfect eye. Below is her seminal photo.

Migrant Mother by Dorothea Lange

People lived through this mess, and made it to the other side. Scarred and ready to move on. Some moved on with little on their back and some looked back to those they left behind. Some didn’t make it through at all. My own mother talked a lot about the depression and the dustbowl years. The poor living conditions and her own families struggle to make ends meet made a huge impression on her, and shaped her demeanor and outlook on life. Later in her own life, as time and energy were drawn out of her, she would talk about those times with me, sitting on her front porch. She would draw comparisons to current conditions and we would have a discussion. Tough times never left my mother. As in the face of the mother above, some situations shape the rest of our lives.


Author: espyworks

I will be working on a theme for this as I go along. But there is a strong possibility that this will have no direct stream, and just ramble aimlessly. And thats fun too!

2 thoughts on “Dustbowls, Documentaries, and Dorothea Lange”

Comments are closed.