Beatrice Kerr collection




A collection of approximately 700 personal items, posters, books, newspaper clippings, handbills, letters, photographs and swimming carnival programs relating to the career of champion Australian swimmer, diver and vaudeville entertainer Beatrice Maude Kerr in Australia and England.

Beatrice Maude Kerr (1887-1971) was a champion Australian swimmer, diver and vaudeville entertainer. Kerr was raised in Melbourne where she was taught to swim by her mother. In 1905 Kerr began competitive swimming and won titles at the Victorian Championships and Australasian Amateur Championship. In the same year she completed 366 swimming and diving performances during a twenty week season at the Princes Court pleasure gardens in Melbourne. During a six week tour to Adelaide, Kalgoorlie and Coolgardie and Perth in 1906, Kerr won five open championships, entered forty-three races and won forty-three prizes. Like her rival Annette Kellerman and contemporaries Fanny Durak and Mina Wylie, Kerr was an exemplar of the fit modern woman in the early 1900s at a time when physical culture movement was just being established. Although Kerr did not hold world records or swim at the Olympics like Fanny Durak and Mina Wylie, she was highly regarded as a swimmer and entertainer and inspired many young women to take to the water. Kerr arrived in London in 1906 and stayed in Britain until 1911 performing in public baths in the summer and at theatres and other venues during the winter months. She wore sleeveless men's racing suits for racing, performance and publicity photographs. Kerr toured Britain until 1911 and then returned to Australia to marry and retire from professional swimming.

Some material included in this collection may be subject to copyright

By appointment only, please contact ANMM

Parts of this collection are digitised and available on the ANMM website


1880s-1900s; Diving; Handbills; Posters; Swimming; Vaudeville

Books; Letters; Photographs; Posetrs


Kerr, Beatrice

Coverage Spatial

Melbourne, Australia; Adelaide, Australia; Sydney, Australia; London, United Kingdon; England, United Kingdom

Coverage Temporal



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2012-05-30 23:40