Their worldly possessions piled on two rundown vehicles, a migrant family paused en route to California in February, 1936. They joined 400,000 people who left western and southwestern agricultural areas for California during the Great Depression, fleeing drought, dust storms, and a dramatic drop in agricultural prices. From 1929 to 1932, wheat prices dropped 50 percent and cotton fell more than two-thirds. The income of many farm families was too low to meet mortgage payments, repay loans, or pay taxes. Hundreds of thousands of families lost their farms. Drought made a bad situation worse, as dust storms tore across the Great Plains, carrying walls of dirt 8,000 feet high and destroying crops, livestock, and a whole way of life.
Source: Dorothea Lange, 1936—Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress.