This page contains Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) and answers regarding technology
in the 1930s time period. The questions are organized by sub-category as best as possible.
Q: Were there any scientific breakthroughs?
A: Development of Polio vaccine and all kids were
immunized once they started school. The first of the "talkie"
movies appeared in the 30's.
Technology per se was not
too evident in the 30's although we did get to trade in our
ice boxes for an electric fridge. This was a very big thing.
as far as really moving ahead. You must keep in mind that
the 30's were very lean years with mega unemployment
and in this climate of things, there was not too much money
around to develop new ideas. So technology was not too
evident although I am sure there were many learned people
with ideas swimming around in their heads.
The war broke out
in 39 and that was a beginning or turning the economy around.
Technology then of course turned its head to the development
of war machines.
Q: What was the state of technology in the home in the 1930s?
A: Television was in its infancy in the 30's and it was
not a household item at that time. No one could afford
it. Cars were a little more streamline than in the 20's
not too dependable and not too many people that
could be in a position to buy. Radios, for those that
had them in their homes, were all AM. They were the
biggest source of entertainment. There were mixmasters
in the mid 30's, refrigeration replaced the old ice boxes.
Q: What appliances would you have in your house?
A: The appliances in the 30's were varied according to how
much money could be afforded. We had ice boxes to
store our perishable food in and the ice delivery truck
came around every few days. Electric fridges came into
being in this decade and boy it was a big deal to own one.
We had wood cookstoves which turned out a pretty good
meal. My mother used a scrub board in the laundry tub to
wash clothers. All hung outside to dry and 99% had to be
ironed as there was no synthetic materials back then. Our
kitchen table had a porcelain top and a wooden frame. The
kitchen cabinet was all wood as were the kitchen chairs. We
had stuffed furniture for living rooms and mostly dark wood
tables. Some beds we had were metal framed with a spring
Q: What things do we have now that we didn't in the 30s?
A: First and foremost we did not have television, stereos, VCRs or DVDs.
We did not have electric floor polishers, automatic washers and dryers.
For part of the 30s we did not have refrigerators - we used ice boxes
The first vacuum cleaner my mom had was an old upright
and she thought it was great because she did not have to beat rugs
out on a line. Lucky people had a radio to listen to and we would
sit as a family and enjoy the programs.
Milk was delivered in
bottles with carboard caps - now we have cartons. Bread was
delivered by a baker and was wrapped in heavy wax paper. You
could of course go to a bakery and buy your bread there. Our beds
had a big spring under a mattress - today we have box springs and
matresses. We did not have shiny taps in our sinks or bathtubs -
they were heavy white metal. We did not have an assortment of
laundry detergents. My mother bought bars of soap and used a
scrub board to to the laundry.
We did not have steam irons - we
used a pop bottle with holes in the cap and sprinkled the clothes
for ironing. We did not have synthetic materials for our clothes
such as polyester, so all clothes (mostly cotton) had to be ironed.
Q: What were the major car manufacturers back then?
A: The major cars made in ther 30's were Fords,
Chevs Buick, Olds, Packard. Also Willys, Nash and Chrysler. Of course given
the times, there were not many cars around the
big city and they were not the most reliable.
However for those that could afford to own one
I am sure they were much enjoyed.
Q: Can you talk about cars your family owned?
A: Cars of the 1930's were pretty unsophicated and not many
could afford to own one as money was extremely scarce in
this decade. My uncle was able to purchase a 1934 Ford
Sedan, red in color, and I thought this was the ultimate in
travelling. These cars were pretty boxy in shape but they
ran (at least most of the time).
My dad purchased a used Willy's sedan (totally ugly) for $150.00 as he was lucky
enough to get a job and needed a car. I remember my
mom and dad talking most of the evening wondering how
they would ever get this car paid for. The poorer class
which were many in number, had to count on buses or
streetcars to get around in the city. Fords were the most
predominant though there were other manufacturers such
as Olds, Nash, Chevs and Buick.
Q: What were the sources of communications in the 30s?
A: Communication source of the 1930's would be
the radio, the telephone, newspaper and of course
the mail. As the years went by the above became
more sophisicated of course and you are fully aware
of how it stands in today's world.
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Last updated: May 5, 2005