In a previous post on the NSHS blog, we told you about Nebraska’s twelve post office murals, as presented in Robert Puschendorf’s new book Nebraska’s Post Office Murals: Born of the Depression, Fostered by the New Deal. One of the murals with a fascinating story and intense attention to detail is the mural on display in Minden: Military Post on the Overland Trail.
In an earlier post we we recalled the effects of the 1890s drought in Nebraska. Unfortunately, it would not be the last.
In 1936, Nebraska farmers were facing similar hardship. The ongoing drought (or “drouth” as it was often spelled) was unrelenting, and continued to produce record-breaking temperatures. The Grand Island Independent (perhaps exaggerating a bit) called it the “worst drouth in climatological history.”
There are certain names we instantly recognize as those who passionately loved and strove for equality. Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr., Susan B. Anthony and many others have a permanent place in history textbooks as heroes of social justice. There are, however, many other names with which we are much less familiar, but are no less important. These are the names of the people who worked decades prior to the names that we know. They fought desperately for the same causes, but they did not succeed. Most did not survive to see the fruits of their hard labor.
The mid-1930s saw some of the hottest summer temperatures ever recorded in Nebraska. When Ruth Godfrey Donovan and her family moved to Lincoln in 1934, the Depression and a severe drought were well underway. Donovan, who lived in a small apartment near downtown Lincoln, recalled: “Sleeping was difficult during that heatridden time. Sometimes it would be so hot inside the building we dragged the cushions from the living room couch out on the front porch and slept on them in the cooler outside air.”
Looking in to the exhibit "Beauty in Hard Times: Depression Era Quilts in Nebraska"