The Great Depression often conjures up images of dust bowls and bread lines, but that is not necessarily the full story. Although the Depression of the 1930s affected every part of the United States, it did so in different ways. While Montgomery County residents were hurt by the Depression, our proximity to Washington, D.C. and the federal government helped keep our economy relatively stable. County residents did not suffer as long or as hard as communities in the rest of the United States. That is not to say that people here faced no difficulties; farm families, in particular, struggled to make ends meet during the 1930s. Some of these rural families, with the help of a woman named Blanche Corwin, found a new and resourceful way to help get them through the hard times.
Miss Corwin, along with a group of county farm women, founded the Montgomery Farm Women’s Cooperative Market in 1932 as a way of supplementing their families’ incomes during the Great Depression. In creating the market, the women were trying to battle the economic woes of the era, but they also ended up fighting against gender discrimination; local newspapers, politicians, bank managers, and even their own families found the idea of women going into business shocking, and many doubted the venture would succeed. The women proved the naysayers wrong and the Market was an immediate success, attracting residents from Washington, D.C. and suburban Montgomery County who came to buy fresh produce, baked goods, and crafts. In the end, the money earned from sales at the Market helped pay mortgages, put food on the table, and send children to school. Today the Farm Women’s Market is still going strong at its original location on Wisconsin Avenue in Bethesda.
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To read a transcript of the audio recording click here.
Click on the links below to learn more about the Farm Women’s Market and the Great Depression in Montgomery County.