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.”
The lawn of the Nebraska State Capitol provided a resting place for Lincoln residents trying to escape the heat in July 1936. NSHS RG2183-725 (above). During the Great Depression Nebraskans became accustomed to living under trying conditions. People had to cope not only with hard economic times but with the intense heat accompanied by a drought that plagued this state and much of the rest of the country.
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.”