4 Ways Depression Era Housewives Were Tougher than I am

It’s no big secret. I’m not the world’s best housewife. But when compared to the housewives of the 1930s? Oh, please. I’m like a little slug compared to them.

I did a good deal of research into what life was like during The Great Depression for the Pearl Spence Series

The women of that era? They were tough. Tougher than I’ll ever be. Wanna know how? Here are 4 ways.

  1. They washed their dishes by hand and with just a dot of soap: Full disclosure, I whine because I have to rinse my dishes before putting them in the dishwasher that rolls across the floor. Depression Era ladies? Yeah, no dishwasher. They scrubbed those pots and pans shiny with just a rag and a tiny drop of soap.
  2. They made and mended their own clothes: I can’t sew a button on a shirt. These women made full wardrobes for their families out of feed sacks, darned all the socks, hemmed and mended and otherwise fixed EVERYTHING. And they looked good while doing it. sack-5
  3. They went without to make sure the kids had enough: Okay, so I have a stash of chocolate that I hide from my children and husband (hee hee, hi, honey). Depression Era Mamas? Nope. They got used to having too little so their kids wouldn’t starve, so their husbands had what they needed. Man alive, these ladies are really proving that they deserved that greatest generation title, huh?
  4. Birth without doctors: In the 1930s women were still delivering their babies at home, many with the help of midwives (women who attended the birth). No heart monitors, no mechanized bed, no ice chips, and NO EPIDURAL. Me? I called my doctor with every twinge I had in my first pregnancy. I made someone spoon feed me lime Jell-O between contractions. I took the meds, oh yes I did. Geesh. I’m looking more and more like a wuss!

And what amazes me most about these women is that they weren’t just tough, they were also kind. The women of the 1930s are remembered as compassionate, caregiving, generous, loving, nurturing, faithful ladies. They were strong because they had to be. Resilient because it was required of them.

Oh, how I look up to them.

  1. 920px-near_buckeye_maricopa_county_arizona-_migrant_african-american_cotton_picker_and_her_baby-_-_nara_-_522540-700x584
    Wikimedia Commons

    Untitled design (11)

4 Comments on “4 Ways Depression Era Housewives Were Tougher than I am

  1. I had to do dishes by hand for a month or two when our was out of service. It was AWFUL (and I used a TON of soap). And I can sew a button on a shirt – but it will probably only stay on for three button/unbutton attempts. With ya – and YES – I totally look up to them. Great post.


    • Ha ha! Isn’t it funny how attached we are to our conveniences? I know I’m a fan of the Swiffer ;).

      Weren’t these women incredible? I may not ever match their housekeeping skills, but I do hope that some day I’ll have even half of their compassion, courage, and sticktoitiveness.


  2. Loved reading this, Susie! Puts me to shame, but it ignites something hopeful. Maybe if we absorb enough of their memories, we can reflect a fraction of their character…?


    • Yes! That’s so my hope. It’s something I love about history. We have a look into how others lived so we can be inspired (and sometimes take caution so we don’t make all the same mistakes).

      Liked by 1 person

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