The Great Depression resulted in widespread economic distress and human suffering in both urban and rural America. Among the most striking images of social and economic hardship were the stark but vivid representations of the tenant farmers and sharecroppers unfortunate enough to inhabit the “Dust Bowl” of the Southwest. Their story formed the basis for John Steinbeck’s very successful novel of social protest, The Grapes of Wrath (1939). One year later Darryl Zanuck and John Ford of Twentieth Century Fox transformed Steinbeck’s words into striking visual images in a film that familiarized a wide American audience with the human and ecological disaster that befell the Great Plains and its inhabitants in the “dirty thirties.”