Nothing says summer like a day on the water in Dubuque!

While the warm temperatures in Iowa haven’t changed over the years, the swimming suits have! In the 1920s, swimsuits looked more like one-piece jumpsuits and were made of knitted wool! This month’s Collection Spotlight are these wool swimsuits donated and worn by Mary Ann Andresen, her mother, and her father.

While wearing wet wool does not sound appealing today, it was one of the most popular materials available for swimsuits at the time! Many people thought its elasticity and thickness made it useful for tighter wet clothing. Wool was more elastic than other fabrics, but it still got heavy when wet and never completely bounced back to its original shape.

These swimsuits allowed our donor, Mary Ann Andresen, and her family to enjoy time in the sun and in the water. When she donated these suits to us, she left a note saying, “I remember seeing pictures of and hearing my parents speak of the Dubuque beach.” She was likely referring to Eagle Point Beach, which officially opened August 19, 1916. Before it was a beach, the city used it as a recreation spot. There were diving towers, swimming classes, playground equipment and more! They even rented out swimming suits and repaired them as well! The beach closed in 1936 and is now known as Sutton Pool.