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- During the Great Depression of the 1930s, agricultural workers fled the Dust Bowl conditions on the Great Plains in search of employment in the American West. Many of these people eventually found their way to the migrant work camps in central California that had been established, under President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal, by the Farm Security Administration (FSA). In this song, Mrs. Mary Sullivan tells how she left Texas, traveled across New Mexico and Arizona in search of work, and after surviving the catastrophic March 1938 Colton, California, flood, found shelter and work at an FSA camp in the San Joaquin Valley. The song was recorded by Charles Todd and Robert Sonkin, both of the City College of New York, who in 1940-41 took recording equipment supplied by the Archive of American Folk Song to California, where they documented the songs, stories, and personal experience narratives of the Dust Bowl refugees who inhabited the camps.
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