Wednesday, November 5, 2008

The Hobo Code

Last week my husband and I watched a movie that took place during the great depression of the 1930's in the United States. In the movie there were several hobo's. The hobo's used a very unique way to communicate. It was called the hobo sign language. I thought this was very fascinating and I wanted to see if these were true facts. So I did a little research and this is the true history behind the language.

During times of economic hardship, people turn to the road to see if they can make their luck somewhere else. As such, back in the days of the Great Depression, the U.S. saw an increase in the hobo population. Walking along long roads or hitching rides on trains, these hobos would travel about, looking for a place where they could get lucky and find a better home. Of course, such a life of wanderlust was difficult, especially since one has to travel without knowing anything of the landscape or local populace.

To combat this ignorance, the hobos came up with an ingenious sign language to communicate to each other along the way. This is not like the sign language that hearing-impaired people use to communicate; rather, it was markings and drawings that hobos would leave along the road for their fellow travelers. The research that I've come across states that the hobo code is still used today.

These are 13 plus hobo signs that I wanted to share.


  1. This is so cool! I knew nothing about this before, and I love history lessons :) Happy TT my friend!

  2. Very interesting!

    They are not unlike the signs that gypsies leave outside people's houses in England, to advise those who come after if it's worth knocking on the door.

  3. That's an interesting post. A great subject that most don't know about. And sadly contemporary, too.

  4. Amazing stuff. What movie did you see this in? I saw some of these in a Mad Men episode.

    Amazing how we strive to share our experience and communicate.

    Thanks for sharing!

  5. This is a very interesting post. I'm glad you shared these pictures with us. I had seen the kitty for the kind lady before, but none of the others.

  6. That is really neat. Those signs are so interesting.

    Check out my TT: 13 Reasons Obama Won the Election

  7. How cool...thanks for sharing. Happy TT:)

  8. Was it the Kit Kittredge movie that you watched? My kids and watched it and it was very interesting!

    My TT is in honor of Veterans Day.


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