Homemaking in the Great Depression: Modern Conveniences

Homemaking in the Great Depression: Modern Conveniences

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Have you wondered what homemaking looked like during the Great Depression? Or, maybe you never thought about it? Either way, here is a little glimpse into the “modern conveniences” of the early 1900s. For the housewives who could afford to buy them, they made their lives significantly easier.

Today’s Magazine, a magazine dedicated to housewives, compiled a list of modern conveniences that “made the housewife thankful.” Here are the homemakers’ favorites.

Baby’s own bathtub— a miniature bathtub was much more manageable for frequent bathing. It saved mothers from hauling water to the full-sized household bathtub and then, from hauling it back out.

Dustpan with a long handle--it helped them to avoid frequent bending and to reduce back strain from daily (or more!) sweeping.

New stove trimming–made of scratch/crack/scuff-proof enamel–It was easier to clean than the sooty iron stoves that needed periodic blacking and didn’t rub off and stain clothes, pots, and pans.

Hot water heater–(You don’t say!)  In addition to the obvious advantage of instant hot water, the article pointed out that a constant supply of hot water could be maintained during the summer with no excess of heat, a double win in days without central air conditioning. More than any other, a water heater was a game-changer for anyone homemaking in the Great Depression (or any other era, for that matter!)

Dustproof Clothesline reel–I think we can all applaud the advantages of a clothesline reel that repels dust. It completely revolutionized the clothesline reel industry. Subsequent generations have never been subjected to the embarrassment and disgrace of a dusty clothesline. (Actually, here’s the one I use. I can vouch for it, too–no dust!)

Vegetable pot–And finally, I believe this is an enamel pot with a smaller strainer pot that fits inside. No more having to drain a kettle of piping hot vegetables, leaving women with steamed faces and scalded hands.

Are you grateful for any of these?  I think most of us take even the hot water heater for granted these days and never give a thought to the other, more “minor” inventions. The time-saving Instant Pots and the robotic vacuums might be our modern equivalents. Our lives are so abundant that it’s good for us to look back every once in a while and see the many ways we’re blessed.

From Laurie and me, we wish you all a very Happy–and thankful–Thanksgiving!


  1. I finished reading your blog lats night and loved it! I remembered that I read once in one of Laine’s Letters, that when she woke and started her bread machines, oven, washers and so on, she was giving tasks to her servants, like the Proverbs 31 woman.
    Have a blessed week!

  2. Wow! After reading this, I am SO thankful for all the servants that God gives me! A dishwasher, a washing machine, a microwave, an electric oven, a dryer… And even with all this help, sometimes we complain that we don’t have free time in our days…
    I just discovered your blog and I’m devouring it. I’m always trying to learn new ways to save and keep our home cozy and clean.
    Thank you so much and please, keep writing these precious posts!

    1. I know! Our appliances are really modern day servants. So glad you enjoy the blog–we have a lot more to share! There are so many bits of wisdom to be found in the past.

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