Prepper History 101_Mind4Survival_Prepper_Prepping_Prepared_SurvivalQuestion about prepper history 101 for all of you Survivor’s out there. Have you in your preparedness efforts, ever wondered about the history of prepping?

In this episode on Prepper History 101

  1. Ancient Times – 1900
  2. 1900 – 1970s
  3. The Cold War
  4. The Survivalist Age (1970s – 1998)
  5. 1999 – Present

This article will break down the history of preparedness and give you some ammunition to help you when dealing with the prepping naysayers, by showing them that up until very recently, NOT preparing for difficult times was considered crazy and extreme. So, sit back and get ready to be armed with some great info to help you, set the non-prepared straight.

Ancient Times – 1900

The history of preparedness and prepping for difficult times dates back to the beginning of human history. Mind4Survival-A-Brief-History-of-Preparedness_Prepper History 101

All we need to do to see the importance of preparedness is to look to the story of Noah and his family building the ark in preparation for a natural disaster.

The reality is that humans have taken measures since the earliest time to prepare for the adversity they knew was coming.

Whether gathering and preserving food, working to deal with Mother Nature, or readying themselves to overcome a host of other adversities, people have always worked to be prepared for problems that lay ahead.

Lacking our modern conveniences, people had no choice other than to plan and prepare for the trying times they knew would come.

For example, people of the Middle Ages gathered and preserved as much food as possible during the summer months. Why, so they could save money, eat and not starve during an often, long cold winter.

Until recent times, preparing for the future was NOT an option.

Preparing for the rough times that lay ahead was a necessity of life for thousands of years.

The dark reality is that those who didn’t prepare stood a good chance of not living past the next difficulty.

Think about trying to survive the winter a few hundred years ago without a stack of wood, preserved food, or any number of other life-sustaining preparations.

1900 – 1970s

As our relatively recent history shows, preparedness was an expected practice.

Heck, it wasn’t considered prepping or anything other than mainstream.

It was completely normal and part of daily life.

Even though most of the last century, people were encouraged to prepare and be self-reliant.

Often, governments promoted preparedness in an attempt to rally its nation's people to support a national effort.

The World Wars

Prepper History 101_the-history-of-prepping-mind4survivalAs the flames of the world wars raged around the globe, many countries involved in the fights pushed their citizens to become more self-reliant.

Here in the United States and other nations, people were encouraged to grow “Victory Gardens” to help keep the country fed during a time of food rationing.

To not become more self-reliant and prepared was considered unpatriotic at the time and counter to the nations war effort.

The effort was so strong that within just the United States, over 20 million victory gardens were planted.

There were so many victory gardens planted that by 1944 they were producing over eight million tons of fruits and vegetables.

To help put victory gardens into perspective, they were responsible for 40% of all fresh fruits and vegetables consumed in the United States, which was equal to all the U.S. commercial production at the time.

In addition to growing victory gardens, people fearing possible bombing by the enemy began constructing home bomb shelters, many of which still exist to this day.

The Cold War

As World War II gave way to the nuclear age, the Cold War and a tense relationship between the world's superpowers, it caused a new emphasis on preparedness to take hold.prepper-history-mind4survival

With the specter of nuclear war an ever-present threat, the building of bomb shelters throughout the United States by individuals, and local and federal governments increased.

One of the most famous examples of bomb shelters is the Greenbrier Resort, located in West Virginia, a short trip from Washington D.C.

Construction of the Greenbrier, codenamed “Project Greek Island” began in 1958.


The Greenbrier was created to house over 1000 people, including the entire US Congress and remained in operation for over 30-years.

An interesting fact about the Greenbrier is that, had the Greenbrier not become known to the public in 1992, it would probably still be in operation today.

However, while the Greenbrier may not be part of the government's continuity of operations plan today, it is certain that there are other Greenbriers that are.

In addition to building shelters such as the Greenbrier, the government also mandated “duck and cover” education and drills.

If you don’t recall these drills, ask someone a bit older, and they will probably recall taking part in nuclear bomb drills when they were young.

To see the emphasis put on preparedness for a nuclear attack, take a few minutes out of your day to watch the governments public safety film, Atomic Alert.

These drills shown in Atomic Alert are based on response measures similar to what is included in the US Army’s Field Manual, FM 3-4 NBC Protection:

“Nuclear attack indicators are unmistakable. The bright flash, enormous explosion, high winds, and mushroom-shaped cloud clearly indicate a nuclear attack. An enemy attack would normally come without warning. Initial actions must, therefore, be automatic and instinctive. Dropping immediately and covering exposed skin provide protection against blast and thermal effects.” 

Similar readiness and preparation efforts for nuclear war and other disasters continued well into the 1970s.

The Survivalist Age (1970s – 1998)

As the world progressed through the 1970s, the next phase in the history of preparedness began in 1976.

It was then that Kurt Saxon created the term “survivalism.”

Also during this time, Howard Ruff wrote his famous preparedness book, Famine and Survival in America, which, based on the difficult financial times, created the groundwork for many of the concepts of our modern prepper movement.

While Saxon and Ruff laid their groundwork for the modern prepper movement, modern firearms training and competition took shape and provided additional influence to the preparedness community.

During this time, USMC Lieutenant Colonel Jeff Cooper founded the American Pistol Institute, now known as Gunsite Academy.

The preparedness community and movement grew through the 1980s and into the 1990s.

It was then that the media and some parts of society started to place a negative label on preparedness.

To that end, instead of judging people and groups on their merits, the media began to wrongfully label anyone who believes in preparedness as crazy, racist, extremist, and anti-government.

Unfortunately, while the labels were untrue, they did drive much of the preparedness movement into the shadows.  The labels also created an artificial barrier that prevented many from becoming better prepared.

1999 – Present

As time passed, the threat of Y2K became a reality, which helped relax the public perception of preppers and the community as a whole.

Y2K became a concern due to the fear of a computer glitch, that would shut down our digital-based infrastructure at the start of the new century.

This fear caused the mainstream media to run stories of potential power grid failures and a possible collapse of society.

Luckily, the prophecies of Y2K never happened, and the new millennium arrived without any Y2K related problems.

What did happen though, was that the survivalist movement was gradually rebranded into today's modern Prepper movement,

With the transition to the prepper movement, the use of the word “survivalist” subsided. Instead the term “prepper,” taking its place.

While the prepper movement continues to be considered a fringe element, it is witnessing an increase in acceptance and participation.

Also helping to cement the prepper movements place in society, was the 9-11 terrorist attacks on the United States. These attacks set the stage for more people to join the movement as political division and uncertainty raged through today.

Prepper History 101 | Quote of the Day

Today’s quote is from the Roman poet Virgil who said,

“Every calamity is to be overcome by endurance.”



Never forget, you’re just one prep away.

If you have any other thoughts or questions about prepper history 101, please leave a comment below.

Stay safe, secure and prepared,



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