Date of Award

Fall 12-18-2020

Document Type

Undergraduate Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of arts (BA)


Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences

First Advisor

Dr. Julie Nicoletta


This paper examines American cooking culture of the Great Depression, as the impact it had on everyday people’s diet was much greater than one may initially think. By analyzing interviews, photographs, and newspaper advertisements, and conducting archival research, I illuminate the public history of the Great Depression’s impact on diet and the roles women played during it. The existing scholarship on the Great Depression typically focuses on the relief efforts made to help people affected by this economic downturn, but this paper will focus more specifically on the cooking culture that involved women during this desperate time. Harsh conditions experienced during World War I, societal expectations of domestic roles, and technological advancements shaped the cooking culture to not only focus on the cost effectiveness of foods, but also the interconnected community and foodways surrounding women. The conditions that limited food availability, the spread of information, preparation of food, and variety of meals all show how the cooking culture was involved with far more than just saving money during hard economic times. The significance of my research on women’s impact in authoritative roles as homemakers and home economists is that we see how the Great Depression acted as a catalyst to nutrition consciousness in the United States, causing people to consider more carefully what nutrients they received, and if what they ate was sufficient for survival.