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Clean air for our kids, 1890-1940

In the age of continent hopping, travelblogging and mass tourism it's hard to conceive that a simple trip to the Belgian coast once proved an epic undertaking out of reach for the majority of the population in this country. In the last decades of the 19th century, long before the introduction of compulsory education, in an effort to provide impoverished or weak children from the insalubrious industrialised cities a better personal hygiene, healthy food, and above all clean air, individuals and organisations initiated holidays in the forest or on the coast. For most kids it must have been the trip of a lifetime.

Some remarkable photo collections from Liberas/Liberaal Archief illustrate the holiday camps and open-air schools run by liberal organisations. To showcase their work and achievements, organisers documented their activities extensively through photography (often finding a wider audience in the form of postcards). Some of the images are pure vintage and often staged for maximum effect. This gallery offers a few samples from these collections from the period 1890-1940.