T-shirts seem like ordinary, everyday items but they can tell us a lot about history! 

Have you seen the green tees pictured above around town? This is special example of t-shirts in CHA’s collection. One of these t-shirts is from the 1970s and the other is from 2018. A few years ago, CHA remade these nostalgic “kelly green” t-shirts as a throwback. The lettering has a retro 1970s look and the ferry boat is an ode to our founders' attempt to save the last of Coronado’s ferryboats. The history of our history organization is even documented in a t-shirt!

The origins of the t-shirt date back to the Spanish-American war when the Navy issued a new type of undergarment. The undergarment was made of cheap, cotton fabric and was easy to fit, make, and clean so it was an ideal garment to issue. The t-shirt was born. In the decades following, it was worn mostly by men as work shirts.  Later in the 1960s, the t-shirt became a popular item for everyday wear, especially as a means of self-expression. It was easy to print on images and words to the fabric, which is why it can be so helpful to historians. 

T-shirts are made for all kinds of events and activities. They are made for bands, sports teams, marathons, social clubs and organizations, and so much more. Details on t-shirts can be directly informational such as listing a date of an event, the names of people involved with an event or activity, or stops along a tour route. Indirectly, t-shirts can tell historians about changes in technology and materials used to make the shirts and evolving style trends. T-shirts can shed light on traditions such as class reunions or holidays. For example, one of Coronado’s most popular stores, Kippy’s, came out with a new t-shirt design every year for the 4th of July celebrations. 

The Coronado Historical Association has several t-shirts in the collection. Some of the t-shirts include a commemorative tee dedicating the Blumenthal Sports Complex, a CHS class of 1977 spirit shirt, and a t-shirt when the America's Cup was in San Diego in 1995. 

What Coronado t-shirts do you have in your closet? Take a selfie in your favorite Coronado tee and share pictures with us on Facebook!