The Impact of the REA
During the Great Depression, daily life was a struggle for farm families. But at the end of this dark and difficult decade, there came – quite literally – light. There was no bigger change in farm life than the coming of electricity, which started in the 1930s. Electricity dramatically changed daily life in farmhouses, chores in the barn, and work in the fields.
In 1930, 58 percent of farms in the U.S. had cars and 34 percent had telephones, but only 13 percent of farms had electricity. Even by the early 1940s, only 33 percent of farms had electricity. Nearly all of Nebraska’s farms were “hooked up” by 1950. Electricity replaced kerosene lanterns in homes and barns, bringing power for lights, refrigeration, appliances, and farm equipment–dramatically improving farm life in Nebraska. Electricity powered labor saving appliances in the farmhouse and machines in the barns. Electricity powered water pumps for irrigation and cisterns for running water at kitchen sinks and indoor bathrooms.
Written by Claudia Reinhardt and Bill Ganzel, the Ganzel Group. First written and published in 2003.