Beating the Heat in 1906
John Nelson’s photograph of two couples seated in front of their tents was taken sometime between 1907 and 1917.
In the days before air conditioning, getting a good night’s sleep during the heat of summer was sometimes a problem. One obvious solution was to sleep outdoors. The Norfolk Weekly News-Journal on August 3, 1906, reported that many residents of that city pitched tents in their yards and spent sweltering summer nights under canvas. The News-Journal asked one Norfolk man how he felt after spending the night outdoors in a tent, and he replied: “I sleep more soundly, get more rest and wake up in the morning feeling like a prizefighter. Indoors I had a hard time getting to sleep before midnight and I was awake at 5 in the morning. In the tent I drop to sleep the minute I strike the cot and never wake up until I am called.” Some also slept outdoors during the 1930s. The heat during the Great Depression brought some of the hottest summer temperatures ever recorded in Nebraska. — Patricia C. Gaster, Assistant Editor for Research and Publications