Drought adaptation in rural eastern Oklahoma in the 1930s: lessons for climate change adaptation research

  • Robert McLeman
  • Dick Mayo
  • Earl Strebeck
  • Barry Smit
Original Article

DOI: 10.1007/s11027-007-9118-1

Cite this article as:
McLeman, R., Mayo, D., Strebeck, E. et al. Mitig Adapt Strateg Glob Change (2008) 13: 379. doi:10.1007/s11027-007-9118-1


In the mid-1930s, eastern Oklahoma, USA, suffered an unusually harsh mixture of droughts and extreme rainfall events that led to widespread crop failure over several years. These climatic conditions coincided with low commodity prices, agricultural restructuring and general economic collapse, creating tremendous hardship in rural and agriculturally dependent areas. Using a previously developed typology of agricultural adaptation, this paper reports empirical research conducted to identify the ways by which the rural population of Sequoyah County adapted to such conditions. Particular attention is given to categorizing the scale at which adaptation occurred, the actors involved and the constraints to implementation. The findings identify successes and opportunities missed by public policy makers, and suggest possible entry points for developing adaptation strategies for current and future, analogous situations that may arise as a result of climate change.


Climate adaptation Drought adaptation Historical adaptation Oklahoma droughts 

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Robert McLeman
    • 1
  • Dick Mayo
    • 2
  • Earl Strebeck
    • 3
  • Barry Smit
    • 4
  1. 1.Department of GeographyUniversity of OttawaOttawaCanada
  2. 2.Sequoyah County TimesSallisawUSA
  3. 3.Sequoyah County Historical SocietySallisawUSA
  4. 4.Department of GeographyUniversity of GuelphGuelphCanada

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