Purdue prof serves as adviser, historian for Ken Burns Dust Bowl documentary

November 12, 2012  

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — R. Douglas Hurt, professor and head of the Purdue University Department of History, is a program adviser for the upcoming Ken Burns documentary "The Dust Bowl," which premieres Nov. 18 and 19.

Hurt, who specializes in American agricultural history and is author of "The Dust Bowl: An Agricultural and Social History," was interviewed about the causes and consequences of the Dust Bowl in the 1930s which ruined farmland and left many people destitute. Hurt also discussed how people in the region and the federal government responded to the drought and the worst wind-erosion problem in American history. Hurt is quoted in "The Dust Bowl" book that accompanies the film and will be included in the documentary.

"The Dust Bowl" is a two-part, four-hour documentary that will premiere at 8 p.m. EST on PBS channels on Nov. 18 and 19.

"The Dust Bowl and drought of the 1930s attracted a great deal of attention during this past summer's drought, and this documentary will highlight how nature and agriculture can affect the environment for both good and ill," Hurt said. "People often ask if the Dust Bowl could happen again. Drought, long-lasting and severe, is a natural phenomenon of the Great Plains. It will come again, but we have a better understanding of wind erosion and the methods and technologies as well as precedent for government support to prevent its worst effects on agriculture. Although the past is never repeated precisely, people can learn from history and make informed decisions about the present and future."

Hurt also is the author of "The Big Empty: The Great Plains in the Twentieth Century," "Problems of Plenty: The American Farmer in the Twentieth Century," "American Agriculture: A Brief History," "American Farms: Exploring Their History," and "The Great Plains during World War II."

Writer: Amy Patterson Neubert, 765-494-9723, apatterson@purdue.edu

Source: R. Douglas Hurt, 765-494-4123, doughurt@purdue.edu

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