Voices from the Dust Bowl: the Charles L. Todd and Robert Sonkin Migrant Worker Collection, 1940-1941
[Detail] Migrant camp, wide shot
Voices from the Dust Bowl, 1940-1941, is a multi-format ethnographic field collection that contains audio recordings, photographs, manuscript materials, publications, and ephemera generated during two documentation trips to migrant worker camps in California. Documented are dance tunes, cowboy songs, traditional ballads, square dance and play party calls, camp council meeting conversations, and storytelling sessions of Dust Bowl refugees who inhabited the camps.
In a hurry? Save or print these Collection Connections as a single file.
These online exhibits provide context and additional information about this collection.
- The Migrant Experience
- Voices from the Thirties: An Introduction to the WPA Life Histories Collection
These historical era(s) are best represented in the collection, although they may not be all-encompassing.
- Emergence of Modern America, 1890-1930
- The Great Depression and World War II, 1929-1945
Related Collections and Exhibits
These collections and exhibits contain thematically-related primary and secondary sources. Browse the Collection Finder for more related material on the American Memory Web site.
- American Life Histories, 1936-1940
- Built in America: 1933-Present
- California Gold: Folk Music from the Thirties
- FSA/OWI Photographs, 1938-1944
- Hispano Music and Culture of the Northern Rio Grande
Recommended additional sources of information.
- The American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress
- Folklife and Fieldwork: A Layman's Introduction to Field Techniques
- Folklife Sourcebook: A Directory of Folklife Resources in the United States
- A Teacher's Guide to Folklife Resources for K-12
Specific guidance for searching this collection.
Search for items using the keyword search, or by selecting from lists of Song Text, Audio Titles, Photographs, and Performers and Interviewees. Note that not all of the recordings have transcribed song texts.
For field notes describing migrant camps in detail, see Research Materials.
For related materials including a scrapbook, newspaper, camp newsletters, and a radio script about the migrant performers, go to Publications and Ephemera.
Several items in the collection contain ethnic stereotyping typical of the period. Teachers may wish to hold context-setting conversations about racism, stereotyping, and discrimination in Depression-era America when using this collection with students.
For help with general search strategies, go to Finding Items in American Memory.