11 Vintage Beach Photos to Get You Ready for Summer

vintage swimsuit photos

Montreal’s McCord Museum dates this image at “probably 1916,” and notes that it’s from the collection of Wm. Notman & Son. The bilingual museum “actively enriches its collections through donations of objects, photographs and documents, illustrating life in Montreal, Quebec and Canada.”

vintage beach photos

Titled “Young women posing in swimsuits on sand dune,” this image comes courtesy of the State Archives of Florida. The photographer and date are unknown, though it’s probably somewhere in the late 1940s or early 1950s.




vintage swimsuits

According to Florida Memory, the “Sarasota Sun-Debs organized in 1949. Girls participating were used in beach pictures distributed locally & nationally. All of the girls received basic modeling training.”

They were photographed by Joseph Janney Steinmetz, who “was a world-renowned commercial photographer whose images appeared in such publications as The Saturday Evening PostLife,  Look,  Time,  Holiday,  Collier’s,  and Town and Country. His work has been referred to as ‘an American social history,’ which documented diverse scenes of American life from affluent northeasterners to middle-class Floridians.”

The Sun-Debs were instructed by ballet dancers and other performers, and were “taught to sit gracefully” during their training sessions at Lido Beach.

These three images are all courtesy of the Florida State Archive, Florida Memory.



“Miss Watts running on Bondi Beach with a dog, New South Wales, 1925,” via photographer M. H. Robinson. According to the National Library of Australian, the photo’s title was “devised by cataloguer based on inscription on slide.; Part of the collection: Norman Ellison collection of lantern slides.; Inscriptions: “Miss Watts, Bondi. M.R. Sydney Sept 1925″–In pencil above and below image.”

vintage swimsuit photos

The University of Washington calls this one “Three girls and one boy on logs in swimsuits, probably Washington State, ca. 1929-1932,” which seems like an accurate title. The photographer is Vern C. Gorst, whose photographs documented “Pacific Northwest events between 1929 and 1932,” including “images of events such as Coupeville’s Indian Water Festival, the Ben Paris Fishing Derby, girls modeling spruce bathing suits to promote Hoquiam, Washington’s wood week, and the making of the world’s largest omelet in Chehalis, Washington in 1921.”

He was a prospector and a self-taught pilot; photography was a side-project for Gorst.

vintage beach photos

The State Library of Newbrunswick provides this photo, “Women in bathing suits on Collaroy Beach, 1908,” which has been repurposed many times. The women were photographed by Colin Caird.

vintage ww1 photos

This sweet photo gets some extra context from the National Library of Scotland, who note that the photo, whose original inscription called it “A British Tommy interests himself in the happiness of the kiddies on the sands at a French coast resort,” is missing piece from the historical dialogue of WW1. From the NLS:

“French children playing with a British soldier on a beach, France, during World War I. Dressed in the long and stripy swimsuits that were traditional in this era, these French children are enjoying playing in the water with a British soldier. After taking part in fighting at the front line, this peaceful experience of playing around with children on a beach at a French resort, may have been a rather strange feeling for the soldier involved.

Apart from the chilling stories concerning the atrocities that German troops were alleged to have committed at the start of the war, most of the history regarding ‘the war to end all wars’ tends to focus on the theatres of war, rather than exploring the civilian viewpoint. This chorus of missing civilian voices is especially noticeable in the seemingly unexplored area of how the British troops and French civilians treated one another, and it would be interesting to learn what general attitudes existed within these two groups, especially what French children thought about the war and soldiers.”

vintage beach photos

Another addition from the University of Washington, this photo is called “Women in bathing costumes in Pacific Ocean at Moclips, August 23, 1913.” It’s noted that the women may have been mountaineers, taking a dip after a long climb. The photographer is unknown.

vintage beach photosEven nuns enjoy the shore, it seems. “Wading nuns on the beach near Zandvoort, Holland,” comes from the National Archive of the Netherlands, who know neither the date, nor the photographer of this photo.

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Hanna Brooks Olsen is a writer and editor for CreativeLive, longtime reporter, and the co-founder of Seattlish. Follow her on Twitter at @mshannabrooks or go to her website for more stuff.