Keeping Cool in Louisville’s Summer Heat

I presented a Filson Friday lecture on Melville Otter's life in "Old Louisville" (1911-1916) a couple of weeks ago, and will be sharing some bits from it here on The Filson blog.  Even in the ninteen-teens, Louisville youth were looking for ways to keep cool in the hot days of summer.  Young Melville Otter and her friends turned to swimming!

Sketch of Melville's teacher, Miss Hazel Cornell, diving into the pool at Fontaine Ferry Park, 1913, by Mary Gunn Powell.

Sketch of Melville's teacher, Miss Hazel Cornell, diving into the pool at Fontaine Ferry Park, 1913, by Mary Gunn Powell.

Over the summer 1913, a friend of Melville's sees Miss Hazel Cornell, their much-admired teacher from Semple's Collegiate School, at Fontaine Ferry Park and sketched this image of her, sending it to Melville who summered out of town.  Melville pasted the sketch in her memory book, writing: “Mary said she wore a black bathing suit trimmed in white with black spots.  Wild?” One of the girls wrote the caption “Hazel! May! The Diving Venus!”

Melville Otter in bathing suit with camera, circa 1913.

Melville Otter in bathing suit with camera, circa 1913.

Melville herself knew that bathing was the way to stay cool during the dog days of summer!  For more on Melville's life, please visit us at The Filson's Special Collections Department to view her three "Memory Books" - available in the Melville Wortham Otter Briney Papers.

Jennie Cole

Jennie Cole is the Manager of Collection Access at The Filson. She has a MLIS with a specialization in Archives from the University of Pittsburgh and an MA in History from the University of Louisville. Jennie’s research interests in the Filson’s collections include women’s history, Camp Zachary Taylor, and Speed family of Louisville.

One comment for “Keeping Cool in Louisville’s Summer Heat

  1. Margaret Cox

    Great post, fantastic pictures!

    Reply

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