The ultimate consequence was environmental destruction, widespread impoverishment, and traumatic out-migration. Moving west into ever-drier lands, they occupied a fragile environment then proceeded over the next fifty years to create one of the worst environmental disasters in world history. Geographical information systems made it possible to integrate multiple historical documents based on their spatial location; the result is a narrative quite different from the iconic Dust Bowl Myth. The history of the Dust Bowl reminds us of the need for careful stewardship of the natural environment. The source of environmental surveillance information originally created by the New Deal is the now 80-year record of land use and land cover contained in aerial photographs. Geographical information systems technology provides a venue that can bring together a multitude of historical primary sources about the history of agriculture and wind erosion. The geographical information systems organize these materials spatially, based on the location of events and characteristics.