Foul Bodies: Cleanliness in Early America
A nation's standards of private cleanliness reveal much about its ideals of civilization, fears of disease, and expectations for public life, says Kathleen Brown in this unusual cultural history. Starting with the shake-up of European practices that coincided with Atlantic expansion, she traces attitudes toward dirt through the mid-nineteenth century, demonstrating that cleanliness--and the lack of it--had moral, religious, and often sexual implications. Brown contends that care of the body is not simply a private matter but an expression of cultural ideals that reflect the fundamental values of a society. The book explores early America's evolving perceptions of cleanliness, along the way analyzing the connections between changing public expectations for appearance and manners, and the backstage work of grooming, laundering, and housecleaning performed by women. Brown provides an intimate view of cleanliness practices and how such forces as urbanization, immigration, market conditions, and concerns about social mobility influenced them. Broad in historical scope and imaginative in its insights, this book expands the topic of cleanliness to encompass much larger issues, including religion, health, gender, class, and race relations.
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advice African Americans American Antiquarian Society Anthony Wayne appearance Army Atlantic Atlantic basin bathing became beneﬁts body body’s Boston Cameron child cholera civility claimed clean clothes Colonial Compleat Housewife conﬂict Continental Army culture deﬁned diary difﬁcult dirt dirty disease domestic labor dress early modern eighteenth century Eliza Leslie Elizabeth England English enslaved European female ﬁlth ﬁlthy ﬁnd ﬁne ﬁre ﬁrst ﬂoor garments genteel gentility habits healing History household Ibid immersion Indian inﬂuence Irish John John Harrower Joseph Downs Journal Ladies laundering laundry linen London Medicine men’s moral mother Native Americans North northern noted odor ofﬁcers orderly book person Philadelphia physician political poor practices Puritan readers reﬁned reﬁnement reﬂected servants sexual shirts signiﬁcant skin slave smells Smith soap social soldiers southern standards textiles tion Tyler uncleanness Virginia wash water cure West African William woman women yellow fever York