What Can We Learn From the Great Depression?

by Simplify

Our ancestors were more frugal than us in many ways. Our great-grandparents, who lived during the Great Depression, and World War II were forced to be thrifty and resourceful. There are things we can learn from how they lived back then. What can we learn from the Great Depression?

One important Great Depression survival tip is to acquire skillsets. Our grandparents knew that if they didn’t know how to do certain things, they wouldn’t get done.

For example, people who lived in the 1930s, couldn’t necessarily buy canned foods and jam at the store. They knew how to ferment and preserve foods themselves. They had a number of skill sets that those in modern society have, for the most part, lost.

A great example of a skill set that is dying out in the modern area is sewing. Knowing the basics of sewing allows one to fix buttons, pants, seams, and hems. It’s an incredibly useful skill set. Our ancestors in the Great Depression even knew how to sew clothing from scratch.

Our great-grandparents also knew how to cook from scratch. Many didn’t have access to convenience foods and had to make everything in their own kitchens. Another frugal tip from the Great Depression, that our great-grandparents did, is to use all parts of the food. For example, the carcass of a chicken can be reused to make chicken soup broth.

When it came to food, during the Great Depression, our ancestors bought and used local products. Many people in the 1930s didn’t have the ability to travel to a supermarket. People today can learn from them to try and find a local source and support their communities.

Locally grown produce

Another Great Depression survival tip is to make your work into your art form. Melissa, from Modern Homesteading, shares a story about her father. When repairing fences alongside her dad, he imparted these words of wisdom to her, “any job you are doing is worth doing right and it’s worth doing well.”

Sometimes, people today don’t have pride in their work. Or, they don’t stick with learning a craft long enough to master it. Back in the day, people prided themselves on being master craftsmen and made things that would hold up and last for a long time.

The importance of community is another thing we can learn from the Great Depression. Get to know your neighbors. Volunteer for the firefighting department. Help the new family who moved in patch up their roof. Our great-grandparents did this; can we bring it back?

What can we learn from the Great Depression?

It turns out that there is a lot we can learn from the Great Depression and from our great-grandparents. Did your grandparents tell you any stories about what they did growing up? What did you find interesting or enlightening that you can learn from today? Drop a comment and let us know.

For more advice from this era, discover these 50+ frugal living tips from the Great Depression or 10 of grandma's best frugal living hacks from the Great Depression.

To see more videos, check out the Melissa K. Norris - Modern Homesteading YouTube channel.

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 1 comment
  • Noni Noni on Dec 27, 2022

    Love this article and 'connect' with it so closely. One of my grandmothers was a Danish import who was born and raised on a large farm till the family came to the US and settled on 600 acres in TN. That farm was started from scratch; she married a local farmer, even as her parents farmed and ran a farm-supply business. These folks all had learned life basics and the value of honest hard work. My mother then passed many of their skills on to me and I'm still a 'farmer' at heart, do as much independently as possible (including the troubleshooting necessary on these pesky tech objects). I'm pretty handy with several home skills, indoors and out, familiar with the usual hand tools, get on well with big dogs and much bigger critters, and made my sons' suits and daughter's dresses...because of the lifestyle and values given me by parents married in the 30s and great grandparents from the 1840's. My Danish grandma told my mother the same thing about doing your projects well that Melissa's dad said, as in "Nobody will see how long it took; they'll only see how well you did it." So many people would benefit from taking that lesson to heart eh.