Fun in the Sun!

vacation cover
Rhode Island Vacation F 77.3 R45 1947
Every year people flock to the beaches of Rhode Island for some fun in the sun.Beach front entertainment took on many forms as the years progressed from those first hesitant days in the ocean waves to the present era of anything goes!Let us take a peek into our collection at some beachy fun of bygone days…
Most kids love the beach! Exploring tide pools, making sand castles, jumping waves or just digging holes can provide them with endless hours of entertainment.
children on the beach
c. 1890 Narragansett By-the-Sea. Sallie W. Latimer
Even horses love the beach!
Newport Beach with Horse and Buggy crop
Newport, R.I. RHi (x3) 7540
The first bathing suits were very different then we see on the sands today. They were made of wool and covered most of the body. The most popular time to “bathe” was between 11am and 1pm. The women in the photo below seem to be having a great time regardless of the cumbersome covering!
Women Bathers
Subject File: Swimming,  c.1900
The latest, hot topic for Second Beach is the current parking fees–where to fit all those cars! In 1906, new-fangled automobiles gave demonstrations ON the beach, with plenty of spectators.
Middletown Beach crop
Sachuest Beach, Middletown, R.I. 1906          RHi (x3) 6891
This beach below, located in the Edgewood section of Cranston, was very popular in its day. In 1909 the area was acquired by the Metropolitan Park Commission and underwent improvements to make it “much more attractive to the general public”. The two acres north of here, situated closest to the Providence line, was marsh land which was reclaimed and covered with sand to add to the size of the beach.
Beach at Edgewood
The Beach at Edgewood. Board of Trade Journal, December 1909
Many Instagram feeds these days are filled with photos of people doing yoga on the beach. Below is a 1910 exercise class taking place on Hog Island, led by Miss Becky Chase. Becky became the first woman to be certified by the U.S. Coast Guard, and the first and only woman to captain the Hog Island ferry. She later married Sidney DeWolf Herreshoff and their son, Halsey Chase Herreshoff (born 1933) is a Naval Architect of production and custom yachts, sailor and former president of Herreshoff Marine Museum.
Portsmouth Exercise on Hog Island Beach
c.1910 Portsmouth, Rhode Island. Nancy Jensen Devin and Richard C. Simpson
A slow beach day at Narragansett Pier. Check out the stylish umbrellas and the (relatively) racy bathing suits. What a difference 25 years makes in bathing fashion!
Narragansett Bathing Beach 1920 crop
Narragansett Pier Bathing Beach, c.1925
These promotional pictures were taken from the Rhode Island Vacation brochure of 1944 that was produced by the Secretary of State, Armand H. Cote to advertise the wonderful offerings available to vacationers in Rhode Island.
                                                 Rhode Island Vacation  F 77.3 R45 1944
Hope you enjoyed this peek into the past- if you are inspired to hit the beach, remember the sunblock!
-Jennifer L. Galpern, Research Associate

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

More of the Latest Old News
Donor Privacy Policy

The Rhode Island Historical Society’s Commitment to Our Donors

We will not sell, share, or trade our donors’ names or personal information with any other entity. We will not send mailings to our donors on behalf of other organizations. This policy applies to all information received by RIHS on any platform by any means, both online and offline, as well as any electronic, written, or oral communications. To the extent any donations may be processed through a third-party service provider, our donors’ information will only be used for purposes necessary to process the donation.

Website and digital strategy by nabec partners