June 21 marks the beginning of summer in the Northern Hemisphere. Children and adults look forward to the beginning of the season and to beating its heat with rites of summer such as swimming and eating ice cream. The date on which the season commences, the summer solstice, is the longest day of the year and the moment when the perceived pattern of the sun is farthest from the equator.
‘Tis pleasant in the summertime,
To feel a cooling breeze,
And hear the songsters sing so fine,
From bush and bough and trees….
“Summer Breezes.” Leonard Marshall, composer; New York: Ditson, C.H. & Co., 1885. Music for the Nation: American Sheet Music, ca. 1870 to 1885. Music Division
The collection, American Life Histories, Manuscripts from the Federal Writers’ Project, 1936 to 1940 abounds with summer recollections:
On hot summer days we’d have fights, arguing over who’d claim the pool for the day, the boys or the girls. The boys used to go without their suits…
“Living on the Hill.” Ann, interviewee; Mari Tomasi, interviewer; Vermont, 1940. American Life Histories, Manuscripts from the Federal Writers’ Project, 1936 to 1940. Manuscript Division
No, I does not swim. I goes to beach to maka meditations. How you thinka I look in swim suit? Hah! I am no longer so young and handsome. De childrens woulda think I was de little whale.
“Interview with Vito Cacciola #29.” Merton R. Lovett, interviewer; Connecticut, Feb 28, 1939. American Life Histories, Manuscripts from the Federal Writers’ Project, 1936 to 1940. Manuscript Division
- Search the American Life Histories, Manuscripts from the Federal Writers’ Project, 1936 to 1940 on summer, beach, swimming, or other summery terms to find more seasonal stories.
- Inspire your plans for summer by browsing through a collection of “Free to Use” images from the Library’s collections reflecting on summertime activities.
- Search on beach or swimming in California As I Saw It: First Person Narratives of California’s Early Years, 1849 to 1900 to find earlier recollections of seaside holidays.
- Search on summer, beach, swim, swimming pool, baseball, the names of specific baseball teams, beaches, summer camps, or summer resorts in Chronicling America, the historic American newspapers database to find news accounts and feature stories about summer activities. Search on summer sale to see advertisements.
- Search on places and activities associated with summer across the photograph and print materials to find a wide array of color and black and white images. For example, search on swimming pool, summer camp, picnic, baseball or croquet
- A search on summer in Historic American Buildings Survey/Historic American Engineering Record/Historic American Landscapes Survey yields numerous photographs and drawings of summer residences—including summer kitchens.
- Search the motion pictures collections on resort or baths to find movies featuring the vacation resorts and swimming spots of days gone by.
- Search on summer across notated music materials to see sheet music and thematic cover illustrations related to the season.
- Search on summer in California Gold: Northern California Folk Music from the Thirties Collected by Sidney Robertson Cowell to hear folk music from a variety of ethnic heritages.