Great Plains Studies, Center for


Date of this Version



Published in Great Plains Quarterly 6:2 (Spring 1986). Copyright © 1986 Center for Great Plains Studies, University of Nebraska-Lincoln.


The Future of the Great Plains came in the mid- 1930s at the culmination of a great drought and a festering worldwide economic depression as new, ambitious Washington agencies sought to redress the accumulated wounds to people and soil. Following a series of more narrow reports, this comprehensive study presented the prevailing judgments as to what had gone wrong on the Great Plains. And it outlined a widely shared vision of what the future might hold if its social prescriptions were heeded. 1 Sceptics of the time wryly remarked that the animal on its front cover (a large bull, fig. 1) symbolized a certain disposition to talk bigger than the evidence warranted, but by and large the report was a consensus of state and national opinions then held among responsible groups. It summed up the prevailing views of a Federal inter-agency committee on the maladjustments and desirable changes in adjustments to the resources and risks of the Great Plains against the background of the worst climate-related crisis in the history of the region.