Dusting Off History: Revisiting the Dust Bowl
The Process


In order to create an exhibit for the local library, it is necessary to do background research and make sure that all information within the exhibit is accurate.  In addition, you will create a newspaper to sell at the exhibit.  This should be a fun, informative project, and all students should be taking part in various aspects of the project.

  • All students will be divided into groups of 4-5 in order to make sure that everyone has an opportunity to participate and to break up the work load.
  • Each group will be assigned an aspect/section of the exhibit, including the statistics of the Dust Bowl, history of the Dust Bowl, agricultural report, biographical study (personal correspondence), and collection of artifacts on recipes, clothing, and tools. Students will be told how much exhibit space they will be allotted.
  • Students will collaborate and discuss how they would like each section of the exhibit to correlate with the others.
  • Along with the exhibit, each group is in charge of contributing an article(s) that will be included in the newspaper.
  • Each group will be responsible for researching their topic area using the Library of Congress pathfinder and the following resources:

Rainfall Graphs

Agricultural Link

Statistics and Graphs

President Roosevelt’s Fireside Chat Concerning The Drought

*All display items must be accompanied by an item tag explaining the relevance of the item.

Group Tasks

  • Statistics
    • Create a graph representing the amount of rainfall from 5 years before the Dust Bowl to 5 years after the Dust Bowl (including each year).
    • Calculate the amount of land that the Dust Bowl covered.  Using this information and population statistics, calculate the amount of people that were affected by the Dust Bowl.  Make calculations to show what percentage of the U.S. population was affected.
    • Use statistics about agriculture to find how the agriculture production was affected by the Dust Bowl.
    • For all of the above assignments, make sure you give explanations to how this affected the people in America.
    • Incorporate your findings into a written news article to be included in the newspaper.
  • History
    • Write an overview of the Dust Bowl period.
    • Include information such as current news reports describing how different states were being affected, what caused the Dust Bowl, predictions of what will happen, precautions that were suggested, etc.
    • Include a visual timeline of historical events, dates of historical importance (governmental changes, agricultural impact, scientific developments, daily life, etc.), and a written news article to be included in the newspaper.
    • Information must be accurate and reflect the significant occurrences of the time.
    • The timeline will be displayed in the exhibit and the news articles will be published in the newspaper.
  • Agricultural report
    • Describe how agriculture was affected.
    • Discuss alternative food sources used when crops failed.
    • Incorporate your findings into a written news article to be included in the newspaper.
    • Your findings should also be incorporated into a slide show presentation for the exhibit.
  • Personal narrative
    • Listen to various interviews on the Library of Congress website.
    • Choose at least 2 individuals in your community who lived during the time period and interview them.
    • For the newspaper article, choose one of the interviewed individuals and describe an aspect of his/her life that relates to what was happening at the time.
  • Collection of artifacts on family life including recipes, clothing, and tools
    • The newspaper article should include what was available at the time (keeping in mind that cost was a limiting factor), what needed to be made, and the quality of life.
    • For the exhibit, display an original recipe based on resources available and/or clothing that may have been worn, and significant artifacts from the time period.


Peer editing will be done a week before the final project is due.  Each group member will edit their own project as well as another group’s project.  This is to allow for any necessary corrections to be made.


One member from each group will join a committee in charge of putting the newspaper together.

  • Each group will write a short article, including any relevant photographs or graphics, based on the information found that will be assembled into the newspaper. This newspaper will be sold during the exhibit in order to raise money for the local library.
    • The Statistics section should include a description of rainfall, area affected, and agricultural impacts along with any other relevant information.
    • The History section should include at least 4 written articles from topics listed in the group tasks section.
    • The Agricultural Report should include an article discussing the various food sources and crop situations.
    • The Personal Narrative should include an introduction to the individual from the time period along with the interview.
    • The Collection of Artifacts should include a description of the items present at the exhibit and their significance to the history of the Dust Bowl.


All students not participating in the newspaper committee will work together to assemble the exhibit.

  • Group members will decide on the design of the exhibit.
  • All group's artifacts must be represented in the exhibit.
  • The exhibit may include poster boards, a computer/monitor displaying the slide show, any objects (like those found in the trunk) that are relevant to the time period, and item tags explaining each artifact.
  • All artifacts in the exhibit should present a consistent theme.
  • All students must participate in completing the exhibit.

The Library of Congress Pathfinder