A Trusted Friend in a Complicated World

20 Vintage Photos of What Family Time Looked Like 100 Years Ago

Family life was a lot different in the 1920s and early 1930s.

family photo
Marcella Lewis/Reminisce

The Great Depression

Marcella Lewis, at right with her mother, Pearl, was old enough to recall the hard times of the Great Depression first-hand after the banks closed. Also, check out these funny family photos that are hilariously awkward.

African-American family portrait, ca. 1920.
Kirn Vintage Stock/Getty Images

Proud to be home

An African American couple stands in front of their home in the 1920s with their dog and five children.

family photo
Robert Nelsen/Reminisce

Family picture

Robert Nelsen posed with his parents and sister Laverne in the spring of 1931. These are the funniest family Christmas photos.

Woman With Infant And Children.
Smith Collection/Gado/Getty Images

A loyal mother

A mother holds her infant child while also attending to her five other kids.

family photo
Mary Reiter/Reminisce

Progress Expo

This photo was taken at Chicago’s Century of Progress Exposition in 1933. Mary Reiter attended with her sister, Ann, and cousin Marian. Take a look at these candid, rarely seen photos of the royal family.

African-American Mother Posing
JHU Sheridan Libraries/Gado/Getty Images

Posing for a portrait

A young mother poses with her two daughters for a studio portrait in 1925.

family photo
Marian Guthrie/Reminisce

Christmas baby

Marian Guthrie’s son, Franklin, was a godsend to his family when he was born just before Christmas in 1930.

African American Siblings
JHU Sheridan Libraries/Gado/Getty Images

Always have your back

Two siblings pose together in the 1920s. The older sibling has her arm around her younger sister as if to say, “I have your back.”

family photo
Claire Stickel/Reminisce

Public market

Claire Stickel, seen here with her mother and siblings, was praised for returning money she found at the public market in 1932. These are the secrets of the happiest families.

family photo
Dorothy Lauman/Reminisce

Still having fun

Even a Christmas tree was out of reach for poor families like Dorothy Lauman’s. In this photo, she’s having fun in 1928 with her brothers.

family photo
Donald Catt/Reminisce

The best that they could

Donald Catt does not recall the Depression days as being unhappy for the children in his family. While they had little money, he says folks got by the best that they could. These cartoons about family life will make yours seem less crazy.

family photo
Dorothy Behringer/Reminisce

Depression years

Dorothy Behringer posed in 1934 with her mother, older sister, and four brothers. During the Depression years, Dorothy’s mother took pity on the lonely, hungry wanderers that crossed her path.

family photo
Margie Porteus/Reminisce

Reuse and repurpose

For many people in the 1920s and 1930s, like Margie Porteus’ family, learning to reuse and repurpose supplies was an essential life skill. Margie, at left, credits her home economics teacher for teaching her how to rework worn clothing. Check out these vintage photos of the 4th of July celebrations.

family photo
Curtis Darkes/Reminisce


Curtis Darkes and his huge family learned firsthand about the values of self-sufficiency and pitching in to overcome adversity. His parents bought an 84-acre farm in Lebanon, Pennsylvania, in 1927.

family photo
John Doll/Reminisce

Still the best dressed

“My older brother, George, and I were two of the best-dressed kids in Chicago,” says John Doll of the 1929 photo. “Our family was on welfare, but we got high quality, secondhand clothes through a local charity.”

African-American Family
JHU Sheridan Libraries/Gado/Getty Images

Perfectly poised

This tidy family poses for a portrait in 1925. The mother, holding a purse and wearing a hat, stands next to her five daughters.

family photo
Dolores Eggener/Reminisce

Little Dolores

Dolores Eggener’s parents married in 1922, but sadly her father died of pneumonia three months before she was born in 1926. That’s little Dolores with her older brother and mother. These are the most glamorous photos of life in the 1950s.

family photo
Louis Tucciarone/Reminisce

Brooklyn, New York

Louis Tucciarone was born two years after this family photo was taken, and he grew up in Brooklyn, New York, during the Great Depression.

family photo
Julia Snyder/Reminisce

Siblings together

In 1925, Julia Snyder posed with her sister and brother. A few years later, her parents had to temporarily place the children in an orphanage. These vintage photos show how birthday parties were celebrated over the decades.

family photo
Zada Hutsell/Reminisce

Nine children

Mother Vada York set a good example for her children, including daughter Zada and her eight younger siblings. The family’s ninth child was born on Oct. 28, 1929, just a day before the stock market crashed. Now, check out these photos that show how glamorous flying used to be.

Originally Published in Reminisce