An Iowa State University historian and expert on the 1930s Dust Bowl consulted on filmmaker Ken Burns’ latest documentary airing on PBS. Pamela Riney-Kehrberg is featured in the film and says she wanted make sure it was historically accurate.
“One of my concerns is making sure people actually understand the population implications, that people understand more people stayed in the Dust Bowl than left during the 1930s,” Riney-Kehrberg said.
The Dust Bowl is considered one of the worst man-made environmental catastrophes in American history. The generation that lived through the Dust Bowl is nearly gone.
Riney-Kehrberg has interviewed dozens of people about their memories of the disaster. “Surprisingly enough, the thing most of them told me was they were happy as if they had good sense, which is a kind of strange thing to say in reference to hard times. But, many of them had grown up poor and many of them had experienced dust storms before the 1930s,” Riney-Kehrberg said.
The story of the dust bowl still resonates today, Riney-Kehrberg said, because it shows the consequences of human actions on the climate. Part one of Ken Burns’ “The Dust Bowl” aired last night.
The second half of the documentary will air tonight.