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Lucille Burroughs, daughter of a cotton sharecropper

[Detail] Lucille Burroughs, daughter of a cotton sharecropper

Lesson Overview

Much of history is interpreted from an adult point of view. This unit helps students gain an understanding of Dust Bowl history through the eyes of a child. Using Karen Hesse’s Newbery Award-winning Out of the Dust as an introduction to this aspect of the Great Depression, students have the opportunity to identify with the personal experiences of youth in the 1930s. In addition, students examine primary source materials of the period to correlate the fictional text with actual visual, auditory, and manuscript accounts as found in the American Memory collections.


Students will be able to:

  • examine primary source materials to gain knowledge of the Dust Bowl;
  • use historical fiction to understand the human aspect of the Dust Bowl experience;
  • relate primary source materials from American Memory collections to passages, characters, and events from the novel;
  • develop research skills and strategies, such as keyword searches, for finding information.


Time Required

  • One to two weeks

Recommended Grade Level

  • 6-8
  • 3-5


  • City & Regional History
  • Culture & Folklife


  • Great Depression and WWII, 1929-1945


Jan King & Rena Nisbet