How Did People Live in the Olden Days?

The “olden days,” generally thought of as a time earlier than one’s grandparents or great-grandparents, were a time when a lower level of technology meant humans did more direct work, according to Scholastic. Entertainment came from paper books, children did important chores in the morning before school, clothes were made by hand, and bathrooms were in outhouses.

In the 1700s and 1800s, people were relatively self-sufficient. Even those who were professionals often kept chickens, cows and gardens behind their townhouses. All the electronic appliances of modern times, from refrigerators to toasters, did not exist. Ice was cut during the winter to preserve food during the summer, or in warmer climates, foods were smoked and preserved.

Food was only part of the story. Adults and children alike worked long hours to make clothes, candles and household tools. One person often would be asked to read aloud for entertainment while everyone else worked. When children did have free time, games were based more on imagination than equipment. Hopscotch, jump rope and Red Rover were popular because it was so easy to play them with rocks, old ropes and sticks. Illness was often devastating. No immunizations meant disease killed or crippled many children, and without antibiotics, small cuts could be deadly. Doctors in smaller or frontier communities did their best, but lack of training and equipment meant people died in ways that shock modern students.