"Breathe a Pound of Dust": Woody Guthrie in words and song.

Those caught in the dust bowl remembered it with fear, wonder and sometimes despair. Woody Guthrie's recollections of Oklahoma describe the relentless dust and its effects on the lungs. Born in Oklahoma, Guthrie experienced the dust bowl and its resulting economic dislocations firsthand. He's best known today as the author of This Land is Your Land.

For small Midwestern farmers the Dust Bowl had devastating consequences. Already challenged by capital-intensive mechanized farming, small farmers were driven to the roads. Historians of the dust bowl conclude there is no easy fix: intensive, mechanized agriculture in such marginal lands will always make them especially susceptible to disaster.

Folksinger Woody Guthrie here describes the storms in Oklahoma.

The dust storms caused serious and even fatal respiratory problems. Doctors called this condition "dust pneumonia." This recording of Dust Pneumonia Blues, made in 1940 by the folklorist Elizabeth Lomax, included Guthrie's recollections of the Dust Bowl and the migration.