What social trends affected family life in the west?


Quick Answer

Limited access to health care, education and food were just some of the issues affecting the settlers. Many settlers endured long periods of loneliness, as neighbors were distant and travelers infrequent. This same sparse population meant that the nearest doctor, midwife or pharmacist could be days away, and most ailments were treated at home. Many women died in childbirth due to poor access to medical attention.

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Full Answer

Providing enough food for a family was an all-day activity that required contribution from all members. Few products were bought at stores, and those that were purchased were not regulated and sometimes unsanitary. It was not unheard of for merchants to cut their flour with plaster or their cornmeal with sawdust to extend profits. Ready-to-wear clothes were not available for purchase, so clothing was made at home. Some women had to make their own fabric and thread to sew clothing, drawing precious attention from food production. Even soap was produced in the home. Schools were sparse, and children often had too much work to do on the homestead to attend school. Children were expected to help their mothers snap beans, collect eggs, sweep floors and mind the younger children. Older boys joined their fathers in the field or in the workshop.

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