Every family was different in the 1930s, but
there were some things that many of them had in common. What was day to day life like in
the 1930s? What did families do? A typical family during the Great Depression
would have consisted of a father, mother, and several children. The average day would
commence with the father of the family leaving for work. That is, of course, if he was lucky
enough to still be employed. Shortly after he had left, the children would leave for
school. Most children walked to school or rode
the school bus. The mother of the family usually did laundry
on Monday mornings. Some families had new, labor-saving washing machines, but washing
clothes by hand was still common. The clothes were hung out to dry on a clothes line. Tuesday
was ironing day. Some families had electric irons, but many women still used a heavy,
black flat-iron that was heated on the stove. The most common form of entertainment was
the radio. Radio programs would entertain families throughout the day with various kinds
of programming. During the day, soap operas would interest mothers while they worked in
the home. After school, action and adventure programs for kids were common. In the evening,
programs that the entire family might enjoy would take over the airwaves.
If the family didn’t want to listen to the radio, they might choose to play a board game,
which were becoming popular in the ’30s. Sorry! was released by Parker Brothers in 1934 and
still remains popular today. By far, the most successful board game was Monopoly. This game
gave people the chance to buy and sell property with money they could only dream of having.
On Saturday evening, it was common for a family to go shopping, if they had the money to do
so. There were a variety of stores downtown, from shoe stores, to clothing, sporting goods,
and music shops. Most families didn’t have a lot of money to
spend at these stores. The average take home pay was about $17 a week. Some made as little
as $7 a week. Doctors made about $60 a week. The prices of products reflected the economic
conditions. A men’s shirt cost about $1. A washing machine could be purchased for about
$33. A winter coat might cost anywhere from $18 to $28. A milkshake might cost a dime,
and a bag of roasted peanuts could be purchased for a penny.
Since many families had so little money, certain things that were once commonplace became luxuries.
For example, going to the barber was no longer an option for many families. Haircuts at home
became standard practice. Families also stopped going to the dentist for regular check-ups,
and doctor visits were saved for very serious conditions. Some women even started giving
birth at home in an effort to save money. Unfortunately, not every family could afford
to go shopping or purchase new clothes. Some families were forced to patch shoes with rubber
from worn out tires. Even families that had once been affluent began dressing their children
in hand-me-downs. The Great Depression made life extremely difficult
for many people. Unemployment rates reached unbelievable numbers, with as much as 25%
of the population unable to find work. This meant that an estimated 13-15 million Americans
did not have a job. Those looking for work were desperate. A business
would advertise for six positions that needed to be filled and more than 15,000 applicants
would apply. Some of those who couldn’t find work began riding the rails. Known as hobos,
they illegally boarded boxcars on trains, hoping to find work in the next town.
Those who were fortunate enough to keep their job saw their wages slashed by as much as
60%. A worker who had once made $1 an hour would be reduced to 40 cents and be happy
to have it. All across the nation, fathers who had once held important positions in companies
were now searching dumpsters for their family’s next meal.
Food was scarce for many. Cabbage soup became a common meal. Meat and vegetables could no
longer be afforded. Some families even resorted to taking turns eating. Some members of the
family would eat on Mondays, Wednesday, and Fridays, while others ate on Tuesdays, Thursdays,
and Saturdays (with perhaps the entire family eating together on Sunday).
In order to cut heating costs, families resigned to heating only one room of their house. They
used many different heating sources, from wood, to coal that they had found, or even
corncobs. In an effort to save money, many families
shared homes. Some younger children were sent away to live with relatives in a different
part of the country. In other cases, kids as young as 13 were told to leave home and
go find work. Obviously, every family was different, and
each had its own set of circumstances. However, each family did everything it could to make
it through one of the most difficult times in American history.

History Brief: Daily Life in the 1930s

100 thoughts on “History Brief: Daily Life in the 1930s

  • November 12, 2017 at 9:52 pm
    Permalink

    Poverty has a look and not just in clothing. There is a look of poverty on people's faces. Growing up poor, I've had to get a poverty mentality out of my life. Thankfully, we can achieve much when we learn to think differently.

    Reply
  • August 5, 2019 at 12:24 pm
    Permalink

    I was so po, I couldn't afford the or

    Reply
  • August 5, 2019 at 4:24 pm
    Permalink

    I 'll bet the best paying job was prostitution.

    Reply
  • August 5, 2019 at 6:54 pm
    Permalink

    The '30s were very tough for people, I remember learning about that in 6th grade.

    Reply
  • August 5, 2019 at 6:56 pm
    Permalink

    Thst photo at 6:13 looks familiar

    Reply
  • August 5, 2019 at 7:11 pm
    Permalink

    And nowadays people making $100,000 with two household incomes totaling over 200,000 can't save any money and they complain about being broke very very very very sad

    Reply
  • August 6, 2019 at 6:42 am
    Permalink

    This country would never go thru another depression peacefully again.

    Reply
  • August 7, 2019 at 11:01 am
    Permalink

    So, pretty much like today…

    Reply
  • August 7, 2019 at 4:51 pm
    Permalink

    They need to switch to Tide.

    Reply
  • August 7, 2019 at 4:58 pm
    Permalink

    Goodnight John Boy.

    Reply
  • August 7, 2019 at 9:37 pm
    Permalink

    Dolly Parton

    Reply
  • August 8, 2019 at 5:07 am
    Permalink

    Times are almost as bad now. The cost of living has skyrocketed, but wages have not kept pace. More and more people are becoming homeless because they can't afford to pay rent. Many people can't afford decent food, and are eating ramen noodles, beans, and rice. A diet too high in carbohydrates.

    Reply
  • August 8, 2019 at 12:01 pm
    Permalink

    my grandparents raised 17 kids, 11 girls & 6 boys during this time. they literally had to share the same milk used in cereal, & bath water. they went through a lot.

    Reply
  • August 9, 2019 at 5:47 pm
    Permalink

    Just imagine the vast amount of dole bulging lazy men of today who complain about how hard it is to get a job try and make it through something like the depression

    Reply
  • August 10, 2019 at 12:07 am
    Permalink

    If you want to narrate something, get some training in voice acting. I sense no connection to any of the words you are saying. They all sound the same. It just sounds like you’re reading from a piece of paper.

    Reply
  • August 10, 2019 at 12:51 am
    Permalink

    3:55 the expression on her face had me looking a few times ,, it’s a humbly triumphant awe?

    Reply
  • August 11, 2019 at 5:49 am
    Permalink

    Thanks

    Reply
  • August 12, 2019 at 11:19 am
    Permalink

    Most of these are poor folks.
    We weren't all poor white sharecroppers.

    Reply
  • August 13, 2019 at 1:11 am
    Permalink

    My respect to all those family that made this country strong and grew their children's with strong values .

    Reply
  • August 13, 2019 at 9:32 am
    Permalink

    Lucky they still have good daddy to support the family those days.

    Reply
  • August 13, 2019 at 7:54 pm
    Permalink

    It wasn’t just American, you dimwit

    Reply
  • August 13, 2019 at 11:05 pm
    Permalink

    We was poor in the 60s, I used go find flip-flop in the damp.my first pair shoes I was 15 from my dad . And you had to eat what was put on table, or go to bed empty stomach. I was 14ci used go to work in this open big huge place to work very hard to collect tomato in the heath,and bring money to Mama, and plus work in field and mountain, at age 6 I was told how to Cook, I came in UK at 16 because I 1 was asked to come here to get married,he could not come to Italy or he had go In The army,soon when arrived had go to work,in mashroom factory, I don't remember the pay,.I used pay 22 pence for my tights,I was treated very bad from my ex husband for 21 yrs of violence, not allowed out, then In 73,4,5, offence cleaning I used get,£5 per week,then £6 with that money I used pay rent and milk. So ,long story I stop now, sorry for my English. ,,,,but guess what them days back home where happy days for me,even if it was hard,no TV ,nothing,,,,he hang around fire place. No toys, no camera to take photos,no wash machine,all by hand,I seen all. My mom was very strict lady and working very hard in Field,we was growing everything,I used get oranges only at Christmas I was over the moon. I could make a film out of my life true story,or write a book, but life took toll on me,,☹️☹️☹️ but I believe🙏🙏🙏 ,now I have no pension,no income from no 1, I struggle,I try to sale all from home,but I can't. People👎 they want for free. My daughter she's try to help as we live together,even if we are like cat and dog, I took care of her. And have son wit disability created by hospital,I never had a penny. I suffer with high anxiety,nerves😬😬😬 osteoporosis in my spine and hip,I am going true hel and back with cronic headache. God bless you all,God bless all that suffers. 🙏🙏🙏♥️

    Reply
  • August 14, 2019 at 9:45 pm
    Permalink

    I like that washings machine.

    Reply
  • August 15, 2019 at 5:30 pm
    Permalink

    And today most so called mothers are on opieds,pharmaceutical shit,smoke,drink,leave their kids in hot cars,suicide,drink addiction,worry,anxiety,the list goes on..their kids sitting on their fast asses worried about a game on the computer..my 5 uncles,2 aunts,came out of the great depression as multimillionaires,yet humble

    Reply
  • August 15, 2019 at 11:33 pm
    Permalink

    Marty Mcfly should of went to the 30s

    Reply
  • August 16, 2019 at 2:26 am
    Permalink

    Only if some kids today ,would realize what our parents and parents before them did to survive, this is what should be taught in schools .

    Reply
  • August 16, 2019 at 6:20 am
    Permalink

    I have the same question I have for the starving in Africa;
    Why do people have children when they can’t even take care of themselves?
    I recently watched one of those shows asking for Americans to give money every month to feed the starving children in Africa, or India. Instead of giving these women clothes and toys, why don’t they give them birth control since they just can’t seem to keep their legs closed?
    I’m not a cold hearted person, I’m a logical and concerned woman that wonders why these women are spitting out babies one after another, when they can’t take care of themselves. This show I watched last week, the babies were starving to death. They were sickly and bloated from real hunger and malnutrition. But their mothers were well fed and healthy looking. I’m serious, every mother of one of the starving children was well fed. Can someone please explain this to me?

    Reply
  • August 16, 2019 at 11:38 am
    Permalink

    it was the great socialist Franklin d roosevelt that turned america around for the better and took the country out of the depression. he would also be elected 4 times. the only president to have done this.

    Reply
  • August 16, 2019 at 12:57 pm
    Permalink

    They had nothing in the 30s but the one thing they had was communication something lacking theses days

    Reply
  • August 16, 2019 at 4:21 pm
    Permalink

    So a winter jacket was 3 weeks pay, holy cow

    Reply
  • August 16, 2019 at 11:23 pm
    Permalink

    My wife's father started working on the railroad in the late 30s. He said farmers and train crews would often trade food and coal. Farmers would leave the last few rows next to tracks for train crews to pick. In return crews would leave shovelfuls of coal for the farmer.

    Reply
  • August 17, 2019 at 1:01 am
    Permalink

    My grandma grew up during the Great Depression in rural North Carolina. She had 9 siblings. She said that they were so poor that they weren't even affected by the great depression

    Reply
  • August 17, 2019 at 1:45 am
    Permalink

    My god, how did they live without cell phones and America's Got Talent??

    Reply
  • August 17, 2019 at 3:41 am
    Permalink

    My dads people grew up in the woods in north Carolina in the 30s my grandpa would chase rabbits with sticks to save ammunition and feed the family. And work in the garden/fields from daylight to dark.
    He ended up joining the army and going to fight in Korea where his brother was killed.
    He came home and became a very successful commercial painter painting hotels and warehouses…

    If anyone happens to give a fuck lol

    Reply
  • August 17, 2019 at 3:49 am
    Permalink

    My grandma grew up in a valley in Virginia in the 30s, said they went to town once every 6 months.
    They would turn there lights off and close the curtains at night because they all thought foreign invaders would parachute down and kill them.
    They had no way of knowing what was really going on with the war. They was too far away from town to learn any real news…

    Reply
  • August 17, 2019 at 8:26 pm
    Permalink

    This should not be a pretext for imperialism.

    Reply
  • August 18, 2019 at 4:18 am
    Permalink

    My father's family was very poor on a farm, but my mother, while not rich, lived a very happy life. It all had to do with circumstances and family. These days, families are spread so far apart, there is no familial safety net. My parents both had extensive family support when they were growing up. We Baby Boomers grew up distanced and spread out – "Nuclear Families." Ironic, since we were all scared to death of The Bomb 😉

    Reply
  • August 18, 2019 at 4:58 am
    Permalink

    Seems like it is happening now a days going back to this

    Reply
  • August 18, 2019 at 5:07 am
    Permalink

    Now if you are poor and a widow your neighbors make fun of you and hate you just because you are poor.

    Reply
  • August 18, 2019 at 8:14 pm
    Permalink

    exactly the year Haile Selassie I of Ethiopia was coronated the KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS, THE CONQUERING LION OF THE TRIBE OF JUDAH.

    Reply
  • August 19, 2019 at 2:07 am
    Permalink

    in philippines, there's more filipino citizen lives like this, even now…

    Reply
  • August 19, 2019 at 2:38 am
    Permalink

    Those kids weren't the cleanest but they surely were cute. What a time it must have been.

    Reply
  • August 19, 2019 at 7:05 am
    Permalink

    Yes that's is still true with my family in Myanmar, chin state,.

    Reply
  • August 19, 2019 at 8:15 am
    Permalink

    The video fails to point out the fact that many people back in the 30's had the knowledge to make their own clothes. My mom knew how to sew a dress, and her mother also knew how.

    Reply
  • August 19, 2019 at 9:16 am
    Permalink

    My Mom was born May 1st, 1933. She is still alive, and 86 years of age. Her father was a dairy farmer, and they lived in a small town in Oklahoma… She had a sister 5 years older…. and 2 younger sisters. Her oldest sister, Jane was the one to help GPA with the cows every morning …. and my moms job was collecting eggs, and feeding the chickens. They had 2 stocked ponds, and a huge garden and lots of fruit orchards, and a hot springs on the land. They didnt really want for anything… My mom said that the chores was hard work but worth it. Only time they went to store was maybe 1 or 2x a month… they could get some candy, and stuff like flour and sugar.. Saturday nights was spent listening to the Grand Ole Opry, and getting bathed for Sunday Church. I have sooo many good memories of grandma and grandpa and how they survived the depression.

    Reply
  • August 19, 2019 at 7:23 pm
    Permalink

    I remember stories from my grandma about the great depression. I miss her, I come a family of rail workers and factory workers. One of great uncle's used to run liquor for Capone.

    Reply
  • August 19, 2019 at 11:36 pm
    Permalink

    My mother was raised during The Great Depression by a Freemason father and their family wanted for nothing.

    Reply
  • August 20, 2019 at 1:27 am
    Permalink

    This is still Mexico 🇲🇽

    Reply
  • August 20, 2019 at 4:49 am
    Permalink

    Would todays' snowflakes make it through the 1930s?

    Reply
  • August 20, 2019 at 7:02 am
    Permalink

    Too bad Ramen didn’t exist.

    Reply
  • August 20, 2019 at 7:31 am
    Permalink

    These carcumtances…of america .inculde…fake.country..israil…was before Apearing….Arabs oil wealth….after capturing…and robrey of muslim land…at once..America be came…devolpd…and rich….still now American looking places for robry…but bad luckly they at last run of..from AFghanistan……

    Reply
  • August 20, 2019 at 6:07 pm
    Permalink

    If FDR had not implemented certain socially beneficial programs the USA could have turned socialist big time. I grew up poor in England, however, the make do and mend
    approach to life back then has never left me I am glad to say. Yep, you can take a person out of poverty but you will never remove the ghost of poverty from them.

    Reply
  • August 20, 2019 at 6:40 pm
    Permalink

    Simular now in UK poverty is everywere

    Reply
  • August 20, 2019 at 7:55 pm
    Permalink

    Now we have Trump , things today are no different than the 1930's , thank you Trump .

    Reply
  • August 21, 2019 at 12:13 am
    Permalink

    Today, if you go to mc donalds, restaurants or any take away shop, you can see the food thrown away on the road or putted into bin without finish it.

    Reply
  • August 21, 2019 at 1:37 pm
    Permalink

    Sew it up, wear it out, make do or do without. Words from my grandmother born 1908

    Reply
  • August 21, 2019 at 2:59 pm
    Permalink

    Between :50 and :55, that's a wringer washer! And I grew up with one in the 1960s and 70s! New detergent boxes had, on one side of them in the 1960s, instructions for how much detergent goes into a wringer washer or the automatic kind! Did you say a pound of peanuts for a penny? A BIG box of Cracker Jack was a dime in the 1960s! In the 1930s my grandpa worked as a fireman. And at 35 cents I got two and a half milkshakes, how about that!

    Reply
  • August 21, 2019 at 9:05 pm
    Permalink

    Where? How did I miss the location? Haven't found it anywhere

    Reply
  • August 21, 2019 at 10:28 pm
    Permalink

    No black pictures :p

    Reply
  • August 22, 2019 at 12:57 am
    Permalink

    What about African American and Native American families…?

    Reply
  • August 22, 2019 at 3:25 am
    Permalink

    my mother was using that washboard, when I was kid, and that was in 70s …

    Reply
  • August 22, 2019 at 5:33 am
    Permalink

    Trump made AMERICA great again…..🇺🇸

    Reply
  • August 22, 2019 at 1:41 pm
    Permalink

    Babies Babies Babies
    They were doing it to much
    That's for sure

    Reply
  • August 23, 2019 at 4:51 am
    Permalink

    The next time this happens it will be infinitely worse

    Reply
  • August 23, 2019 at 6:26 am
    Permalink

    Lots of privilege here.

    Reply
  • August 23, 2019 at 7:59 am
    Permalink

    And here we are today in 2019 and most people die before they have enough money for doctors and dentists. Most people are working poor, while the Waltons own everything.

    Reply
  • August 23, 2019 at 6:32 pm
    Permalink

    Can someone please explain to me how everything was so cheap back then? And some of these things made in the 30s are still around like that iron.

    Reply
  • August 24, 2019 at 2:23 am
    Permalink

    These videos only include white Americans. Like Natives, Blacks, Hispanics, and Asians weren't here also.

    Reply
  • August 24, 2019 at 6:38 pm
    Permalink

    I can tell you what they didn't do—–Laundry

    Reply
  • August 25, 2019 at 6:57 am
    Permalink

    Females had it so hrad back then , while the husband worked in a coal mine, she would iron clothes and listen to soaps on the radio. Im sure glad feminism liberated these single mothers.

    Reply
  • August 25, 2019 at 10:41 pm
    Permalink

    Dam with all these pennies I would had been rich in those time:[

    Reply
  • August 26, 2019 at 6:16 pm
    Permalink

    Damn, didn't know men are so strong back then. They gave everything for their family.

    Reply
  • August 26, 2019 at 10:44 pm
    Permalink

    Seeing the poverty not only in this video but in numerous other sources, what really burns me up is how the Depression was reportedly engineered by a certain few financiers, meaning it was made to happen. Then to make matters even worse, these same evil people saw to it that the Depression was prolonged, ending only when the US was drawn into WWII when we were attacked by Japan in Dec. 1941. I often wonder if there's a special place in Hell for people like that.

    Reply
  • August 27, 2019 at 5:25 am
    Permalink

    Wow, thanks Capitalism!

    Reply
  • August 28, 2019 at 8:31 am
    Permalink

    Many families lived on the farm and had an income. While not great thanks to the (((bankers ))) they got by. My Grandparents managed. Family life was grand.

    Reply
  • August 28, 2019 at 12:35 pm
    Permalink

    Spot on. And it got worse under the Democrats (1932-1951), who used the war machine to "improve" things (& get rid of more objectionables).

    Reply
  • August 28, 2019 at 1:19 pm
    Permalink

    5:56 a dude with a SmartPhone checking Instragram. They lie.

    Reply
  • August 28, 2019 at 11:30 pm
    Permalink

    I appreciate my life now more.

    Reply
  • August 29, 2019 at 5:56 am
    Permalink

    The Great Depression, The biggest robbery in history. Next to the theft of the land the native americans lost to undocumented immigrants

    Reply
  • August 29, 2019 at 5:58 am
    Permalink

    Good plan if you wanted to plan a second world war, and have people running to the recruiters looking for work. germany had a hyperinflation in the 20s. The men who run our world are extremely sick and filthy rich, God will bring the hammer down on them someday

    Reply
  • August 29, 2019 at 7:43 am
    Permalink

    Good 'ol capitalism. A lot of people in America look like this now. How ironic the most popular game to play is monopoly.

    Reply
  • August 29, 2019 at 3:11 pm
    Permalink

    And the spoiled entitled generations complains if they do not get a new phone as soon as it comes out. I soooooo wish we could go back in time!

    Reply
  • August 29, 2019 at 10:53 pm
    Permalink

    These White people don't look so "privileged" to me, they look more like they're starving like Africans today.

    Reply
  • August 29, 2019 at 11:37 pm
    Permalink

    Still complaining?

    Reply
  • August 30, 2019 at 6:47 am
    Permalink

    My grandmother told me that her family had so many kids that each kid ate on certain days of the week. Each child had chores every day and the rest of the time school studying was the norm. When old enough, each child went and got a job and the money brought home was used for the household.

    Reply
  • August 30, 2019 at 3:22 pm
    Permalink

    Hoover.
    Make America Great Again.
    Vote republican.

    Reply
  • August 30, 2019 at 9:54 pm
    Permalink

    this time around there will be a greater depression

    Reply
  • August 31, 2019 at 2:33 am
    Permalink

    A whole lot of "privilege" in these videos

    Reply
  • August 31, 2019 at 9:30 pm
    Permalink

    where trump

    Reply
  • August 31, 2019 at 9:30 pm
    Permalink

    evident roosevelt was demonic

    Reply
  • August 31, 2019 at 9:32 pm
    Permalink

    history will repeat because there is a GOD

    Reply
  • September 1, 2019 at 8:46 am
    Permalink

    A lot of the statistics quoted in this video have been disproved and are common exaggerations that were perpetuated without foundation for generations. If one takes a deeper look you find there was expansion in a lot of modern industry with good pay, lots of housing expansion and many cities,especially out west were enjoying massive expansion. The aviation industry in southern California being a good example.Many of the programs set up by the F.D.R. administration actually prolonged the depression.People need to educate themselves on the causes and effects of the great depression, you might be enlightened as to who caused it and why.

    Reply
  • September 1, 2019 at 9:14 pm
    Permalink

    My grandfather was a "Hobo" for a time. When he returned home with some cash, he got mugged.

    Reply
  • September 1, 2019 at 11:55 pm
    Permalink

    My great grandmother was born near the end of the depression.
    I remember my grandmother stated she used to get handme down clothes from the local mayor's daughter.
    Sence the family were friends with them.
    I believe she was quite blessed, her family still had hardships though.

    Reply
  • September 2, 2019 at 3:01 pm
    Permalink

    My Mammaw had already birthed 2 babies by herself at home on their Missouri cotton farm by the time my Dad was born in '39. She always saved and recycled everything. And she could make the best homemade cornbread out of almost nothing! Miss you Mammaw 💖👵

    Reply
  • September 2, 2019 at 4:24 pm
    Permalink

    Why are people so fucking stupid hey we’re super poor we have no money and it’s the depression I know let’s have kids great idea that’ll make us even more miserable all you’re making is murderers degenerates And drunks and homeless people fucking stupid

    Reply
  • September 2, 2019 at 4:29 pm
    Permalink

    The world would be a better place if people stopped having kids during the depression

    Reply
  • September 2, 2019 at 4:36 pm
    Permalink

    I don’t care what the circumstances are if you don’t have money for children then you don’t deserve children children cost a shit ton of money a shit ton really wish people had common sense

    Reply
  • September 2, 2019 at 6:22 pm
    Permalink

    I just bought a medium milkshake for $4.36

    Reply
  • September 2, 2019 at 9:14 pm
    Permalink

    I would kill my self if I had to live back then

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *