Hailing from dust bowl territory, she related to the wandering migrants that flooded into California looking for work. As the Depression worsened, she joined the relief efforts and began working at the FSA government camps. She documented the daily struggles of these poor families, filling countless journals.
From these notes, she began writing a novel: Whose Names are Unknown. It caught the eye of a publisher at Random House. Unfortunately, Sanora's hopes were dashed when John Steinbeck's Grapes of Wrath was released and gained instant national fame. Sadly, Random House and other publishers refused to publish another book about the dust bowl.
This rejection stunted Sanora for nearly 20 years when she published The Lost Traveler, followed by her memoir, An Owl on Every Post. Whose Names are Unknown collected dust until 2004 when it was published by University of Oklahoma Press, one year before Sanora died.
So as we close out women's history month, let's remember the great women who were nearly forgotten and hope we discover the ones who were.
-Michelle Leigh Moore
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