Courtesy of Library of Congress, Chapin, Imogene, "The Job's Just Around The Corner," 1 August 1940
Interview with Imogene Chapin from Arvin Farm Security Administration (FSA) Camp in California, August 1, 1940
This interview of migrant worker Imogene Chapin, conducted by Charles L. Todd and Robert Sonkin, addressed what life was like in the Arvin Farm Security Administration (FSA) Camp. During the Great Depression, a series of droughts combined with non-sustainable agricultural practices led to devastating dust storms, famine, diseases and deaths related to breathing dust. This caused the largest migration in American history. The Dust Bowl era lasted from 1930 to the early 1940s and impacted the Midwest, Southwest and Mexico directly, but also had an impact on the states that affected populations migrated to — principally California and the Northwest. Migrants, most of whom had been farmers, went to pick crops in those states where crops would still grow. Displaced immigrants from Mexico competed with migrants from the United States for jobs.
- Based on Imogene's poem, what hardships did migrant workers face?
- How did Imogene's perception of California balance against the reality of living in California?
- Compare Imogene's poem to Flora Robertson’s. How did both women deal with the Dust Bowl? Why do you think both women wrote multiple poems to express their feelings?
Chapin, Imogene, "The Job's Just Around The Corner," 1 August 1940. Courtesy of Library of Congress