Great Plains Studies, Center for


Date of this Version

Fall 2009


Great Plains Research 19 (Fall 2009):201-14.


Copyright 2009 Center for Great Plains Studies, University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Used by permission.


The Dust Bowl is a historical vernacular region that has been delimited by a diverse group of academics, literary authors, and popular cultural voices. However, the general public’s perception of the Dust Bowl region has not been mapped and analyzed. This research queried residents of 93 Great Plains counties in order to ascertain their perceptions and knowledge of the vernacular Dust Bowl region. Analysis of the responses via the application of geographic information system mapping reveals striking differences between respondents of varying age and place of residence. Findings suggest that spatial understanding of the Dust Bowl phenomena is eroding among young people in the Great Plains. Diminished knowledge of human-environment dynamics should raise concerns in light of the recurrent nature of drought in the region.