Migrant Work In The 1930s

A tidal wave of trubulation thunders its way across the land. A spear of fear is hurled through the hearts of hundreds of thousands, whose only hope is to hold their heads high... or die. Hope bleeds through the holes in their pockets. Yet, determination trudges on. Salvation awaits just ahead in the Promised Land.

In John Steinbeck's Grapes of Wrath, readers are presented with a fictional representation of what many displaced families likely experienced in 1930s as a result of environmental, economic and social issues that swept their way across the country in what became known as the "Dust Bowl" era. In the face of economic hardship, migrant Americans traveled far away from their former homes and livelihoods in search of work that could sustain them and their families, hoping that eventually, they could establish a new home and life, for many, in California.  

This collection explores an array of common wage labor jobs performed by migrant workers all around the country during the great "Dust Bowl" migration of the 1930s. The range of jobs exhibited here consists largely of agricultural work—the type of work that the Joads sought out in The Grapes of Wrath, and among the most common sort of work that migrants found themselves engaged in, since California had such a large agricultural industry.




Michael McFadden