Essay on The Dust Bowl Odyssey By Edward Carr Cautions

Essay on The Dust Bowl Odyssey By Edward Carr Cautions

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The “Dust Bowl Odyssey” presented an initial perspective of why families migrated from drought-ridden, Dust Bowl, areas to California. Edward Carr cautions, “Interpretation plays a necessary part in establishing the facts of history, and because no existing interpretation is wholly objective, on interpretation is a good as another, and the facts of history are in principle not amendable to objective interpretation” (Carr, 1961, p. 31). Historians had to separate the prejudices, assumptions, and beliefs of the times in order to have a more objective reasoning of the migration. The migration had valid evidence that supported against the theory of the Dust Bowl being the only contributor. Rather there were other historical contributions to this. The numbers did not support the evidence that it was solely the Dust Bowl.
Carr cautions that if the historian looks at his own period of history through the eyes of his own time, and studies the problems of the past as a key to those of the present, he will fall into a pragmatic view of the facts. He will maintain that the criterion of right interpretation is its own suitability to some present purpose (Carr, 1961, p. 31). A number of prejudices, assumptions, and beliefs contributed to not seeing the bigger picture. The wisdom of the time suggested that the Dust Bowl affected all of Oklahoma. Removing that assumption and looking at the facts, it shows that the affected area was the panhandle of Oklahoma.
A popular book written by John Steinbeck, The Grapes of Wrath, perpetuated the assumption it was the whole of Oklahoma. Turning of the book into a popular movie further perpetuated the conventional wisdom of the time. The book was a narrative written by an author, not a historia...


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... Steinbeck’s agenda may have been to advocate for government to “recreate an America of small farmers rooted in the land” (Davidson & Lytle, 2005, p. 314). He had failed to remind himself of the ideals he cherished too often applied only to White Americans.
The lesson learned supports Carr’s cautioning the historian to look objectively at the facts. He also defines history as “a continuous process of interaction between the historian and his facts, an unending dialogue between the present and the past” (Carr, 1961, p. 35). As seen in the Dust Bowl Odyssey, a reinterpretation of history occurred. Removing past assumptions and prejudices, allowed for an alternative perspective on the events that caused the movement of individuals. Statistical methods firmed up the facts. This continual process will encourage future historians may apply additional perspectives.

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