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Archives Exhibit: Caroline Henderson's Letters from the Dust Bowl

Nov 19, 2012 by Leslie Fields

 Love for the Earth, Loyalty to the Land

Caroline Boa Henderson, MHC Class of 1901, farmed a land claim in the Oklahoma Panhandle from 1907 until 1966. She struggled against recurring droughts, dust storms, extreme blizzards, and other disasters. And yet, through all of these troubles, she and her husband chose to stay on their land. 

“We are both near enough to pagans to have a good deal of that instinctive love for the earth,” Henderson wrote to her Mount Holyoke classmate Rose Alden in December 1932. “I think that has had much to do with our continuing the long struggle here.”

Henderson’s firsthand accounts of the Dust Bowl years are preserved in the Mount Holyoke College Archives and Special Collections through the letters that she wrote to friends and family, along with other writings that she published in Practical Farmer and the Atlantic Monthly

Currently on exhibition are seven of the nearly thirty letters that Henderson wrote to Alden between 1908 and 1957. Her entire collection of letters has been digitized by LITS' Digital Assets and Preservation Services Department and is available to read and research online.

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