Graduate Student - Women of the Oklahoma Dust Bowl: A Gendered Response to a Community in Crisis

Lesley McCullough's Graduate Student Thesis

This graduate student will examine the experience of women in rural Oklahoma during the Dust Bowl period, 1933-1939, focusing on Texas, Beaver, and Cimarron, located in the northwest corner of the state. During this period of environmental devastation and economic hardship, women often served as a force to heal the brokenness of families and communities, enhancing their status in the region. While previous scholars have studied the topic of the Dust Bowl through the lens of environmental causation, agricultural practice and policy, economic repercussions and resultant migratory trends, McCullough's work seeks to shine a spotlight on the realities and reactions of women in the various roles they filled in their public and private lives. As men were increasingly disempowered by the environmental conditions that made agricultural work unprofitable and scarce, women were forced to expand their activities to meet the needs of families. McCullough will draw from a wide variety of sources, but will largely consist of a new, previously untapped collection of oral history interviews with Oklahoma women, conducted by researchers from Oklahoma State University.