Dust Bowl Research Update: Origins of the term”Dust Bowl”, Maps and more

I have been collecting artifacts of the Dust Bowl as it relates to Baca County for awhile. My focus is compiling a resource that tells the “Dust Bowl” story from the perspective of the Baca County Newspaperman, in particular, Springfield Democrat Herald, Editor Ralph Williams.  

However, the research from other newspapers across the country is fascinating so I thought I would share a few tidbits that I have collected / or that am working on at this time.

The counties most often discussed in the “Dust Bowl” conversation surround Baca County so let’s begin with a 1954 U.S. Soil conservation service map which defines the worst erosion of the era.  In particular the following six counties are usually described as the most impacted counties of the Dust Bowl Story.  

Baca County Colorado

Cimarron County Oklahoma

Texas County Oklahoma

Morton County Kansas

Dallam County Texas

Union County New Mexico

The 1954 U.S. Soil conservation service map below provides a visual of the area.  

As such I have started collecting Newspaper Artifacts that discuss the Dust Bowl.  Here is chart which shows the enormity of the newspaper artifact data available on this topic.  The focus of this search was the term “Dust Bowl” in conjunction with the terms in the chart. Other terms such as “Dirty Thirties” and  “Black Blizzard” have been reviewed. There is also a good deal of overlap. Again, I am showing your this to show the enormity of the data available on this topic.

Origins of the Term “Dust Bowl”

Next,  let’s look at the term “Dust Bowl.”   The term dustbowl is usually attributed to Associated Press Editor Edward Stanley.  Associated Press reporter Robert E. Geiger, out of Denver, happened to be in Boise City, Oklahoma, to witness the “Black Sunday” black blizzards of April 14, 1935.

It is usually stated Stanley, Kansas City news editor of the Associated Press coined the term “Dust Bowl” while rewriting Geiger’s news story. While the term “the Dust Bowl” was originally a reference to the geographical area affected by the dust, today it usually refers to the event itself

The term was first used over a year prior to Stanley using it, although his use of the term began the widespread use of the term.  So who really coined the term? You decide.

Caribou County Sun (Soda Springs, Idaho) · 2 Feb 1934.

The News-Palladium (Benton Harbor, Michigan) · 5 Aug 1934.

Maps of the Dust Bowl

The Kane Republican (Kane, Pennsylvania) · 28 Mar 1936.

The Beaver Press (Beaver, Utah) · 20 Oct 1938.

Daily News (New York, New York) · 21 Aug 1938.

Daily News (New York, New York) · 28 Feb 1936.

The Evening Review (East Liverpool, Ohio) · 15 Dec 1939.

Iron County Record (Cedar City, Utah) · 18 Jan 1940

Sunday Journal and Star (Lincoln, Nebraska) · 20 May 1956.

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