Gelatin silver print, printed c. 1936-1939
Image: 19.7 x 19.1 cm (7 3/4 x 7 1/2 in.); Matted: 55.9 x 45.7 cm (22 x 18 in.)
Norman O. Stone and Ella A. Stone Memorial Fund 2001.91
© Arthur Rothstein, Library of Congress
A severe drought in the High Plains during the mid-1930s led to catastrophic erosion of the soil and dust storms. Rothstein took this iconic image while photographing for the Farm Security Administration in the Oklahoma panhandle. “While making my pictures,” he recalled, “I could hardly breathe because the dust was everywhere. It was so heavy in the air that the land and sky seemed to merge until there was no horizon. . . . Just as I was about to finish shooting I saw a farmer and his two sons walk across the fields. As they pressed into the wind, the smallest child walked a few steps behind, his hands covering his eyes to protect them from the dust.”
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