Dust Bowl exhibit and program series

Farmer and sons walking in the face of a dust storm, Cimarroon County, OK, 1936. Courtesy of the Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.

Farmer and sons walking in the face of a dust storm, Cimarroon County, OK, 1936. Courtesy of the Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.

“Dust, Drought, and Dreams Gone Dry,” a national traveling exhibition about the causes and aftermath of the historic Dust Bowl period, will be on display at Booth Library from Jan. 11-Feb. 26.

The exhibition recalls a tragic period in our history — the drought and dust storms that wreaked havoc on the Great Plains in the 1930s — and explores its environmental and cultural consequences. It raises several thought-provoking questions: What caused fertile farms to turn to dust? How did people survive? What lessons can we learn?

“The Dust Bowl was one of the worst man-made ecological disasters in American history. We are proud that Booth Library was selected to help make the public more aware of this important era,” said Allen Lanham, dean of library services. “This exhibition delves into the history and geography behind the Dust Bowl, but also provides a human element; through the words of the survivors themselves, we learn what it was like to live through such a difficult time.”

“Dust, Drought, and Dreams Gone Dry” will be accompanied by a series of free library programs, including lectures and film screenings. The exhibition 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 their experiences living through the Dust Bowl.

Lanham invites community members and groups to view the exhibit any time the library is open. More details are available here.

Following is the schedule of upcoming events. The exhibit and all programs are free and open to the public.

  • Jan. 25 and Jan. 26, 7 p.m., Doudna Fine Arts Center Recital Hall; two-part film screening of “The Dust Bowl,” Ken Burns documentary, presented by Cameron Craig, professor laureate of geography;
  • Feb. 3, 4 p.m., Witters Conference Room 4440, Booth Library; “Illinois Plows and Breaking the Plains: Technology, Ecology and Agricultural Production during the 1930s,” by Deb Reid, professor of history;
  • Feb. 8, 4 p.m., Witters Conference Room 4440, Booth Library; “Dust Pneumonia Blues,” by Sheila Simons, professor of health studies;
  • Feb. 10, 4 p.m., Doudna Fine Arts Center Lecture Hall; “Dust Bowl Ballads: Woody Guthrie and the Politics of the Working Class,” by J.B. Faires, adjunct professor of music;
  • Feb. 16, 4:30 p.m., Witters Conference Room 4440, Booth Library; “Recapturing the Experiences of Women in the Dust Bowl: The Life and Writings of Caroline Henderson,” by Bonnie Laughlin-Schultz, assistant professor of history;
  • Feb. 17, 4 p.m., Witters Conference Room 4440, Booth Library; “The Politics of Drought in ‘The Grapes of Wrath,’” by Robin Murray, professor of English;
  • Feb. 18, 4 p.m., Tarble Arts Center Atrium; film screening of “Grapes of Wrath,” featuring the work of cinematographer Gregg Toland of Charleston, presented by Kit Morice, curator of education, Tarble Arts Center;
  • Feb. 22, 4:30 p.m., Witters Conference Room 4440, Booth Library; “Dust Bowl Lessons: Soil Conservation Then and Now,” by R.J. Alier, Coles County Soil and Water Conservation District.

For more information about “Dust, Drought, and Dreams Gone Dry,” including complete program and exhibit descriptions, visit the program web page here. More information also may be obtained by contacting project directors Janice Derr, jmderr@eiu.edu or 581-5090; Kirstin Duffin, kduffin@eiu.edu or 581-7550; or Pamela Ferrell, pferrell@eiu.edu or 581-7548.

“Dust, Drought and Dreams Gone Dry” was developed by the American Library Association Public Programs Office in collaboration with the libraries of Oklahoma State University and Mount Holyoke College. The exhibition and tour were made possible in part by a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities’ Exploring the Human Endeavor.

Local sponsors of the series are the Tarble Arts Center, Academy of Lifelong Learning and WEIU-TV.

During the spring semester, Booth Library’s regular hours will be from 8 a.m. to 1 a.m. Monday through Thursday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and noon to 1 a.m. Sunday. For more information on the library, visit the website, www.library.eiu.edu; call 217-581-6072; or find the library on Facebook or Twitter.

3 thoughts on “Dust Bowl exhibit and program series

    1. Elizabeth M. Heldebrandt Post author

      No, they won’t be aired on WEIU-TV. We hope you are able to attend some of our programs!

    2. Stacey Knight-Davis

      While none of the lectures will be on WEIU, there will be a documentary shown on WEIU in conjunction with the exhibit.

      Film: Stinging Dust & Forgotten Lives: The Dust Bowl (Tempestas et Caelum Productions, directors Cameron Craig and Kevin Jeanes, 2008)
      This documentary film will air on WEIU-TV at 9 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 14; 2 a.m. and 11 p.m. Friday, Jan. 15; 8 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 31; 8 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 10; 10 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 11; and 9 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 21.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *