Great Depression

Image of a corner drug store

Good historical photos can give amazing glimpses into the daily lives of people in the past. This 1934 photo of Rasmussen Drugs in downtown Lincoln does exactly that, with fascinating historic ads and a surprise hidden in a window reflection.

man in Spanish armor on horseback in city street

man in Spanish armor on horseback in city street

Historians long believed that in 1541, Francisco Vázquez de Coronado became the first European explorer to reach the Platte River in Nebraska. By the 1890s, historical and archeological evidence pointed toward central Kansas as Coronado’s farthest north, but the story lived on in popular culture.

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.”

Thrive in the Thriving ThirtiesThe designer of this 1930 advertising stationery didn’t know it yet, but the expression “Thriving Thirties” was not going to catch on. Printed by the Epsten Lithographing Co.

People sleeping on the lawn of the Nebraska State Capitol

The lawn of the Nebraska State Capitol provided a resting place for Lincoln residents trying to escape the heat in July 1936. RG2183-725 (above).

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.”

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