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Best Swimsuit: 1922

Best Swimsuit: 1922

June 17, 1922. "Washington Ad Club bathing costume contest at Tidal Basin." Miss Anna Niebel, "former Follies girl who lives at 1370 Harvard street northwest," took first place. At right, the unmistakable if blurry figure of Iola Swinnerton, First Lady of Shorpy, who came in second. Harris & Ewing glass negative. View full size.


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That would be Congressman Herrick

Anna Niebel hadn't just sued any ordinary person. In 1921 she was at the center of a Washington political scandal involving first-term, only-term, Oklahoma Congressman Manuel Herrick. The caption beneath the front-page, first-column picture of Miss Niebel in the Nov. 24, 1921 edition of the Millersburg (IN) Grit explains, "she was an entrant in Herrick's 'beauty contest,' and says he led her to believe that he would marry her."

Herrick was a real piece of work. Two months after Ms. Niebel won the June 1922 version of her multiple Tidal Basin Beauty Contest trophies, Rep. Herrick was defeated in the GOP primary, prompting him to complain that he lost because of "the indifference and gross ignorance of many people who did not take the trouble to inform themselves of the fact that he was doing the work of five congressmen." Then the following year, the Washington Post reported that he was suing a different woman - his secretary - for breach of promise because she allegedly "used all of the arts and wiles of an adventuress before jilting him." He also accused the secretary of promising him that she would not spend her time petting dogs after marriage but would rear children. (Those claims were thrown out.) If that were not enough, he was picked up for disorderly conduct after a young lady complained that he was annoying her. (He pled guilty.)

Iola of the one swimsuit

I'm so excited to see a new picture from the Potomac bathing suit contests! It's always nice to see Iola, even blurry, although I STILL hate that bathing suit! It doesn't appear to be the most updated fashion, either. Anna's costume is an example of that; no stockings, more thigh uncovered, plunging neckline, etc.

As for Anna, I see mention of Anna Elizabeth Niebel having sued a Mr. Herrick for $50,000, in 1925, for breach of promise. I assume that was for breaking off an engagement, but can't find any more details about it!


Drop the silly cap and the old-fashioned swimsuit (well, not literally "drop", or this would be some other kind of site), and this young lady would be an eyeful today.


Sad that Miss Iola Swinnerton probably died before she could reap the fortunes that being First Lady of Shorpy would surely bring.

Thankfully we have the photographic proof of her beauty and style to soothe our broken hearts.

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