Out of the Museum

We might stump you with this week’s mystery item

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Where: Beermann Plaza at 640 5th St.

When: Open 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays

Free: Donations always accepted

Four readers, including one in far-away North Carolina, knew where last week’s mystery item was worn and by whom.

If you know what this week’s item is, please send answers to by Tuesday. We also like sharing your input about the mystery item.

This week’s item is more unusual than usual so we might have a stumper on our hands.


Last week’s mystery item


Loretta Anderson Greene: “(Last) week’s item is a woman's bathing suit. Can you imagine the people of that day seeing our swimsuits of today!  They wore more underwear than some of our suits.” Loretta, who grew up in Lincoln, now lives in Monroe, North Carolina.

Paul Long: “It is a women's Victorian bathing gown. Many women also wore long stockings in order to keep their dignity about them. A women's purity was her greatest asset during this time.”

Ruth Wehner: “I think this is a woman’s bathing suit from the turn of the 20th century.”

Jeane Mcfarla also knew it was a bathing suit.


The Lincoln Area Archives Museum docents’ explanation

The bathing suit pictured last week was donated by Claire Shigley of Benicia. Claire is the granddaughter of Mae Fowler Herold, whose land in Lincoln is situated along Crosby Herold Road on the west side and Mt. Pleasant Road on the north, across and west of the present Mt. Pleasant Hall.  Claire’s son now resides on the property.  Stagecoaches used to stop here in earlier days.

The idea of a swimming suit might have originated from Bath, England, which served over the ages as a recreational area with the only hot springs in the United Kingdom.  In Victorian England, anyone bathing and swimming in Bath were required to wear swimming suits.

Prior to that time, according to the Lincoln Area Archives Museum docents, people swam naked or wore any piece of fabric that was considered to be appropriate.

Some vintage swim suits were made of wool, which must have been scratchy as well as saggy.

Claire’s swim suit consists of a dress with long bloomers and was worn by her mother, Charlotte.

In case you want to get a close-up look at this week’s mystery item, visit the Lincoln Area Archives Museum any time from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays. Admission is free but donations are always welcome.

­- Carol Feineman