CURRENT HOURS: TUES-SAT • 9am–4pm • Last tractor cart leaves at 2pm


July 20, 2015

Summer has officially begun and it has been hot outside! Have you been swimming to have fun and stay cool? Maybe you have a favorite swimsuit you like to wear. People who lived a long time ago also liked to swim, but their swimsuits looked very different from yours.

illustration of 19th century swimsuits

People started wearing swimsuits over 200 years ago. For a long time, swimsuits looked a lot like normal clothes. It wasn’t considered proper for very much of your skin to be showing, so swimsuits were very long and had long sleeves. In fact, swimming was the only time women were allowed to wear pants along with their dresses!


The problem with the swimsuits people wore was that when they got wet, they didn’t dry very fast. Instead of making swimsuits out of cotton, which is what your t-shirts are made out of, they started making swimsuits out of wool. Wool comes from sheep! Wool dries faster, but it is very heavy and warm. It would be like wearing a winter sweater at the pool! Do you know what fabric your swimsuit is made from? Usually, it says on the tag.

As time went by, swimsuit designs started to change and look less like regular clothes. Instead of wearing pants, women wore tights with their swimsuits.

1910s swimwear

Do you think it seems silly to wear all those clothes to go swimming? It seems silly to us today, but one good thing about these swimsuits was that they stopped people from getting sunburns. Do you have to put on sunscreen before you go swimming outside? Sunscreen hadn’t been invented yet in the 1800s! Having their legs and arms covered helped keep people safe.

If you visit Living History Farms, you will not see any swimming pools. In fact, you wouldn’t find very many swimming pools in the 1800s. Most people swam in the ocean, or in ponds, lakes or streams. Sometimes people would jump in a pond to take a bath. There were some indoor swimming pools in big cities, but they weren’t for fun; they were for exercise or for swimming lessons. Have you ever taken swimming lessons, or are you taking them now? Just like you, people in the 1800s learned how to swim so they would be safe in the water.

So what did kids do to have fun in the summer if they couldn’t go play at the pool? Many things! Kids spent time playing outside with their brothers and sisters. There were lots of games to play like baseball, croquet, and graces. Graces is a game kind of like catch, played with sticks and hoops.

playing graces at Living History Farms

Caregivers: Living History Farms is celebrating a Victorian Birthday with historic games and activities on August 8, 2015. If your kids want to try old-fashioned summer fun, come join us!

Read more posts on the LHF Kids Blog


Fun and Games   Now and Then  Dress Up

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