Between 1936 and 1939, John Steinbeck was determined, if not obsessed, with finding the right way to tell his story of the California migrant workers. His commitment to this topic evolved through several stages of writing, moving from reportage of actual events to several fictional experiments for his "big book."
In September 1936 his article, "Dubious Battle in California" was published in The Nation, providing a brief overview of the migrant situation. The following month a series of seven articles, "The Harvest Gypsies" appeared in the newspaper, the San Francisco News. These articles were later republished by a non-profit organization in a pamphlet entitled, Their Blood is Strong. Accompanied by Dorothea Lange photographs and his essay "Starvation Under the Orange Trees," originally intended to be published in Life magazine, Steinbeck's articles sold ten thousand copies--with all proceeds going to help the migrants.