What Was Life Like in the 1930s?

The Great Depression in Kansas – Read All about It

In working with my mother to self-publish her memories of growing up in the 1930s, I became fascinated by the Great Depression and its impact on people’s lives. There seems a resurgence of interest in that period. Perhaps people are looking to it for answers for their current financial hardships and unease about the future.

I think there is a lot we can learn about the way our grandparents or great-grandparents weathered the decade of the 1930s.

If you’ve read my mother’s memoir, My Flint Hills Childhood: Growing Up in 1930s Kansas, then you’ll also enjoy these other books.

My Flint Hills Childhood
My Flint Hills…
Growing Up in 1930s…
By Gail Lee Martin
Photo book
  • The Persian Pickle ClubI was intrigued by this novel’s setting and time period as I’d just finished working on my mother’s memoir set in the same locale and period. The appeal of this story goes beyond just the regional appeal, as the story unfolds to show the ways women support each other during lean times. This certainly has a message that’s important during hard economic times.At first I had trouble sorting out who was who in this 1930s ladies quilting circle. It was worth it to persist, as the story unfolded to include a mystery about the disappearance of one member’s husband. The story unfolds through the viewpoint of Queenie Bean, a young housewife who takes pride in her quilting and in putting a good meal on the table for her farmer husband. She works at developing a friendship with a young woman who’s new to the area and the quilting group. The unsettling influence of a newcomer to the Persian Pickle Club leads to friction in the group and eventually the uncovering of a carefully hidden secret.

    Along the way, the reader learns a lot about the deprivations of the 1930s with farmers losing their land and homeless people asking for handouts. This homespun story of women helping each other out during the hardships of the Great Depression is a “good read.” (review by Virginia Allain on Amazon)

  • Addie of the Flint Hills: A Prairie Child During the Depression (1915-1935)I’d heard a lot about this book, and really looked forward to reading it. I highly recommend it.

    In Addie of the Flint Hills, the 94-yer-old Addie Sorace tells the simple facts of her family’s life in the Flint Hills of Kansas. Feeding the chickens, walking to town (Cottonwood Falls) for the mail and the dust storms of the Dust Bowl days all mingle together to create a picture of life “back when.” The photos add extra depth and the reader peers at Addie’s childhood images and those of her Kansas pioneering family. What gave them the stamina to cope with the hard life of making a living on the land? She relates the details of life on the Kansas prairie in the 1920s and 30s in a matter-of-fact manner. Her narration shows no self-pity for the suffering she endured from a mother who took her frustrations out on Addie. That was just part of life and Addie shares it all with us.

    Although the era is different from The Little House on the Prairie books, the reader is left with a similar warm feeling from having stepped back in time. It fascinated me, as I saw many parallels to my mother’s book. Although my mother grew up in the oil field camps in Greenwood County, and Addie grew up on a farm in adjacent Chase County, the two books provide a similar glimpse into that time in Kansas. Both books include earlier family history to give the reader background on Kansas pioneer times. (review by Virginia Allain on Amazon)

  • Ducks across the Moon: Life on Eighty Acres in the Flint Hills
    Having read a number of 1930s prairie memoirs, I looked forward to Dr. Ohm’s book. He touched on familiar themes of overcoming hardships, living close to the land and about family togetherness. His experiences and obsevations are supplemented by family stories passed along from his parents. The description of the threshing crew and of the women preparing all the food brought back memories of my grandmother talking about the same topics.

    Even if you don’t have these farming experiences in your own background, they will resonate with you the way the Little House on the Prairie books do. It is part of America’s hardy pioneering past. Enjoy the stories of making ice cream from snow, playing in the haymow and making rubber band guns from innertubes.

    He acknowledges the daily grind of farm work, while celebrating the folkways that made the Foxfire books so popular. This book and my mother’s memoir, make good companion books for anyone wanting to know about growing up in Kansas during the Great Depression. (review by Virginia Allain on Amazon)

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