July 28, 1913 Temperatures for Cities Across the US

18-year-old Helena Muffly wrote exactly 100 years ago today: 

Monday, July 28, 1913 – Thursday, July 31, 1913:  Nothing very much doing for these days. It’s so terrible hot and I have a hard time of it just doing nothing. I’d hate to go anyplace such weather as this is.

Maximum, Minimum, and 8 p.m Temperatures

July 28, 1913

Source: Washington Post (July 29, 1913)

Source: Washington Post (July 29, 1913)

Her middle-aged granddaughter’s comments 100 years later:

Sounds like it was miserably hot in central Pennsylvania.  A hundred years ago farmers like the Muffly didn’t even have electricity so there were no fans—just the sweltering heat.

Grandma apparently didn’t even have enough energy to write in her diary for several days. How hot was it?

Two Pennsylvania Cities—Philadelphia and Pittsburgh had highs of 90, so it’s a safe bet that it was in the upper 80’s or possibly 90 in McEwensville. Hot–but it doesn’t sound as unbearably hot as Grandma described it. Maybe the humidity was really high and there was no breeze–  that could make it seem “terrible hot”.

30 Responses

  1. It was hot tonight in California. Especially for attending a wedding in a barn.

  2. Would they have worn clothing appropriate to the weather?

  3. Sounds like it was a miserable time. I can remember not having a/c, but it’s just unthinkable to not have electricity….. Our ancestors were made of good stock!

  4. No AC, no fans, corsets and long dresses: I can see myself just sitting in cold bath all day long untill fall;0)

    • Just reading your comment makes me feel hot. I think that for families with bathtubs, that hydrotherapy (baths) was very popular back then. However, only relatively wealthy people in towns and cities would have had indoor plumbing and bathtubs a hundred years ago.

  5. Or maybe it’s because their underwear went from the breastbone to the knee and they wore long sleeved long dresses with socks and shoes….even the bathing suits from back then look hot!

    • I don’t know how people stood all those clothes in hot weather–though I guess that they must have somehow gotten used to it.

      • We don’t have AC in many homes in Canada but I have been to some states in the summer and when heat is combined with humidity I understand the need for AC! I love walking and once while in St. Louis I walked 2 miles and when I got back to the hotel my clothes down to my underclothing were soaked in sweat!

  6. Clothing probably did make it at least a few degrees hotter and when you think about the temp of the human body even one degree makes a huge diff! I bet they used lots of cold washcloths, did the have a “watering hole” or pond?

  7. she does sound terribly uncomfortable. Would they have been canning foods at that time, also? Processing would create more heat in the house. I spent many summer days posted on a chair near the stove to keep an eye on the pressure canner.

  8. When it was in the 90s here recently, I was thinking of how unbearable it would have been If I’d had to dress in those clothes and have absolutely no air moving. We have no a/c and I don’t know what I’d do without our fans and without our attic fan at night.

    • Years ago I stayed at a friend’s house overnight and her family had an attic fan–and I was absolutely amazed how wonderfully it cooled the house.

  9. I hope they had a nice shade tree and could go out for some fresh air. I once saw a history program on TV and they said the farm women didn’t wear corsets while they were doing farm work. I suppose it depended on local customs.

  10. That humidity can sure be a killer…the days are endless.

  11. Oh this made me smile. My grandma always said “terrible hot” too!

  12. High humidity coupled with 80-90 degree temperature is the type of heat that makes me not want to do anything. Pennsylvania is known for its hot, humid summers (at least in Philadelphia; I’m not surprised to see that it was 90 degrees here 100 years ago).

  13. The summers of my childhood were spent without any air-conditioning in an area that gets incredibly hot and humid. It is the humidity that is the worst thing to cope with. One forgets what a difference it makes to the ability (or inability) to function, now that we can change things with the flick of a switch.

  14. It’s a good thing she didn’t live in the South. It’s absolutely miserable down here in the summer, especially with all the humidity. I can’t imagine how people got through it before air conditioning.

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