Family at Jetties Beach, 1906, Nantucket Island Massachusetts
A group of people at Jetties Beach, some in bathing suits. Label states: "Mother in the black suit with white collar, and her sister, Aunt Fan, in all white dress. Fat Aunt Fan never appeared in a bathing suit." 1906...Image number: A11-18
In 1860s, a bathing outfit could weigh as much as 20 pounds and cover up as much as the full street dress. Later, lighter-weight version features a knee-length gored skirt that buttons over a one-piece romper, topped off with a jaunty cap appeared. By the end of the 19th-century people were flocking to the oceanside beaches for popular seaside activities such as swimming, surf bathing, and diving. A need for a new style bathing suit that retained modesty but was free enough to allow the young lady to engage in swimming was obvious. By 1910 bathing suits no longer camouflaged the contours of the female body. The yards of fabric used in Victorian bathing skirts and bloomers were reduced to show a little more of the figure and to allow for exposure to the sun.
The mission of the Nantucket Historical Association is to preserve and interpret the history of Nantucket Island and foster an appreciation of its historic significance. We maintain over 20 historic sites, including the Nantucket Whaling Museum. The Nantucket Historical Association Research Library is a special collections repository of primary resources focusing on Nantucket history. Our collections contain more than 5,000 volumes and 50,000 photographs, as well as archival documents such as ship's logs, account books, family papers, and scrapbooks.