EOGN: The Swimsuit Edition

Hey, if Sports Illustrated and other magazines can produce “swimsuit editions,” why can’t a genealogy newsletter? Therefore, I am delighted to introduce the first (annual?) swimsuit edition of Eastman’s Online Genealogy Newsletter:

You can click on the above image to view a much larger version.

The above is a 1906 photo, entitled “Bathing at City Point, South Boston, Mass.” It is produced from an 8-by-10 inch dry plate glass negative by the Detroit Publishing Company.

Times have changed! Yet this is how our ancestors dressed while enjoying the sun at the beach. Do you notice that almost everyone is wearing long sleeves at the beach? Not to mention long pants or long skirts and dresses. Several are wearing coats. Perhaps we are better off today.

The photo is courtesy of Shorpy.com, a vintage photo blog featuring thousands of high-definition images from the 1850s to 1950s. The site is named after Shorpy Higginbotham, a teenage coal miner who lived 100 years ago.

You can view many more fascinating old photographs at http://www.shorpy.com. You can browse the photographs by starting at http://www.junipergallery.com/shorpy_archive/recent. The site also sells 6,000+ fine-art prints suitable for framing, desk-size to sofa-size and larger, printed on archival paper or canvas.

I could spend hours on Shorpy.com!



I love this photo. Thanks for the tip about the website.


But I bet they didn’t get skin cancer as often, either, covered up like that! The picture is worth 1000 words, about life in, presumably, the middle to lower classes, who had no private access to beaches, for whom this was the best way to cool off on a hot summer day. It’s a great candid shot too–even the five boys in the middle foreground seem simply aware of the photographer, not posing. A few men and boys are in “bathing costume,” which isn’t much changed from pictures of my father and friends in the 1930s–unless they’re wearing short pants and singlet undershirts. Notice not one obese person among them of any age, either. I’ll have to spend hours getting lost in the website. I spent a long time pouring over the photo. Do make this an annual event, please!


Love it! It is worth checking out the larger image. There are more people in it! Hilarious.


And notice all the black “beach umbrellas” to protect from the sun as well as the much fuller swim wear!


Heidi Higginbotham July 16, 2014 at 9:17 am

I’m with Doris. As covered up as they are they shouldn’t have suffered sunburn and it’s long term effects; skin cancer. But, how hot!

I’m curious about Shorpy Higginbotham. I’m married to a Higginbotham whose recent ancestors were coal miners in West Virginia! I haven’t come across his name before. Wonder where he was from and where mined for coal?


I HAVE spent hours lost in the Shorpy web site. Their wonderful sharp images, copyright free, are wonderful for illustrating articles and power points. Love this new feature!
Connie Moretti


Margaret Gabriele July 16, 2014 at 9:58 am

Love this. Grew up in South Boston and went to this beach many times. Many some of my ancestors are in the picture!


If any one is in or near Centerville, Mass (on the Cape) the local Historical Society has a display of bathing suits @1900 to today.
Tuesday to Saturday 10:00 to 4:00


What a great site! Where is information about the pictures being copyright free (couldn’t find it)?


    The concept was originally that of a Boston site, showing folks swimming circa 1905. Originality is refreshing.


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