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Nudist History Timeline

Nudist Timeline
 
 
  • Public nudity was common in ancient Egypt under Pharaoh Akhen-Aton (1385-1353 BCE). 
  • Students in ancient Greece exercised and received instruction while nude; athletes competed in the nude. This continued until 393 CE, when the Christian emperor banned the Olympic Games because he considered them Pagan. 
  • Ascetics in ancient India practiced nudity as part of their quest for simplicity. 
  • The Japanese widely practiced nude communal bathing until recently. Today, there exists only " ...a few mixed bathing pools in hot spring spas, and some mixed public baths in small villages in the deep countryside ."
  • Five Christian groups from the 2nd to the 15th century practiced public nudity: the Adamites, Adamianis, Carpocrations, Encratites, and Marcosians. 
  • Many cultures in tropical areas wear very little or no clothing, even today.
  • John Adams enjoyed nude swimming in the Potomac River. 
  • Public nude bathing was common on the beaches of the UK by the 1840's.
  • During the reign of Queen Victoria, a period of sexual repression began, which spread throughout much of the English-speaking world. At the height of the Victorian Era, it was common to cover all legs, even those of pianos and tables, in order to prevent sexual arousal. Bathing suits at the time covered almost the entire bodies of both men and women. Then, as now, much of society considered nudity and sexual arousal to be synonymous.


John Adams

 


Naked Ascetics Doing Yoga Exercises.

circa 1890
Naked People (Nackende Menschen) by Heinrich Pudor, under the pseudonym of Heinrich Scham was probably the first book on nudism to be published. Written in Germany during the 1890s, it predates even Richard Ungewitter's Die Nacktheit. The English translation was published in 1894, and has seemingly been lost. Now, resurrected by Reason Books, Naked People's renewed availability will place it as an immediate collector's item, appropriate for any serious library. Naked People itself is aphoristic and poetic, but its pleading for a naked and open lifestyle is both continual and undeniable.
circa 1900
A return to nude public bathing was pioneered in Germany by a group of young weekend hikers called Wandervögel (migratory birds). They hiked around the countryside and skinny-dipped where conditions allowed. A second German group contributed to naturism; it was the Naturheilbewegung (Natural Healing Movement) which promoted the idea that the sun's rays had healing properties if they were enjoyed in the nude. German sociologist Heinrigh Pudor is regarded as the " father of nudism. " He wrote a book "The Cult of the Nude" promoting naturism. This was at a time when the word "cult" had not taken on the negative meanings that it has today.  
1903
The first nudist resort was opened by Paul Zimmerman near Hamburg, Germany.
 
circa 1905
The British nudist organization English Gymnosophist Society was formed.  
1929

Kurt Barthel founded the American League for Physical Culture . Members Reverend Ilsley (Uncle Danny) Boone, and family are recognized as the first leading family of nudism in America.

The Nudist, founded by Reverend Ilsley Boone, was America's first nudist magazine. Notice the alarming censorship of male genitalia. It was later retitled Sunshine & Health. Both magazines espoused hardy nudism.

1930s

On one particularly hot summer, thousands of men on Long Island NY disobeyed the law and went topless. The law was changed in 1936 to decriminalize toplessness among men.

Clark Gable, when he took off his shirt in IT HAPPENED ONE NIGHT (1934) -- revealed bare skin beneath, rather than an undershirt. Sales of undershirts reportedly dropped significantly, and nudists credit him with liberating the male torso.

1935

Zorro Nudist Colony opens as an exhibition at San Diego’s Balboa Park for the California Pacific International Exposition. (See Travel Naturally, issue #50.)

1940s

The Comstock Law, an omnibus anti-obscenity law was used to suppress nudist magazines in the US.
Works of art and literature were were routinely banned in the U.S., such as the oil painting "September Morn" by French artist Paul Chabas.  This innocent nude bather was deemed obscene by Anthony Comstock of the New York Society for the Suppression of Vice.

1950s:
Police raids on nudist groups became less frequent. One of the last occurred in Michigan in 1956. A Christian radio evangelist had campaigned to close down the Sunshine Gardens Nudist Resort . After a series of court battles, the Michigan Supreme Court ruled that naturists had a right to practice nudism within private resorts.
1958
The US Supreme Court ruled that naturist magazines were not obscene under that law.
1974
San Diego City Council designates "swim-suit optional" zone at Black's Beach (rescinded in 1977).
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1986

Burning Man Festival — First event on Baker Beach in San Francisco.
Conceived by Larry Harvey with help from Jerry James - 20 participants, 8 foot man.

1990 - Burnin Man moved to Black Rock Desert, Nevada - 100 participants attend desert burning - Height of Man: 40 feet.

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2000

September 21, 2000 — A new nationwide poll commissioned by the Naturist Education Foundation (NEF) and conducted by the independent Roper-Starch organization indicates that Americans overwhelmingly approve of nude sunbathing on beaches set aside for that purpose.

In the scientific sampling conducted by Roper, 80 percent of those polled said they believed people who enjoy nude sunbathing should be able to do so without interference from officials as long as they do so at a beach that is accepted for that purpose. The approval rating for nude beaches is up from the 72% that was registered in a poll with identical questions taken by Gallup in 1983.

 
2002
July 2002 A New Tradition Hits Pamplona, Spain
The first annual running of the nudes brought a new cruelty-free day of excitement to Pamplona when 25 mostly naked runners ran the traditional bull course. A mass of locals and tourists gathered around to watch as the runners hit the streets to spread the message to the world that a new tradition was underway!

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