Chasing Dirt: The American Pursuit of CleanlinessDe (autor) Suellen Hoy
en Limba Engleză Carte Paperback – 15 Jan 1997
Hoy offers here a fascinating narrative, filled with vivid portraits of the men and especially the women who helped America come clean. She examines the work of early promoters of cleanliness, such as Catharine Beecher and Sylvester Graham; and describes how the Civil War marked a turning point in our attitudes toward cleanliness, discussing the work of the U.S. Sanitary Commission, headed by Frederick Law Olmsted, and revealing how the efforts of Florence Nightingale in the Crimean War inspired American women--such as Dorothea Dix, Clara Barton, and Louisa May Alcott--to volunteer as nurses during the war. We also read of the postwar efforts of George E. Waring, Jr., a sanitary engineer who constructed sewer systems around the nation and who, as head of New York City's street-cleaning department, transformed the city from the nation's dirtiest to the nation's cleanest in three years. Hoy details the efforts to convince African-Americans and immigrants of the importance of cleanliness, examining the efforts of Booker T. Washington (who preached the "gospel of the toothbrush"), Jane Addams at Hull House, and Lillian Wald at the Henry Street Settlement House. Indeed, we see how cleanliness gradually shifted from a way to prevent disease to a way to assimilate, to become American. And as the book enters the modern era, we learn how advertising for soaps, mouth washes, toothpastes, and deodorants in mass-circulation magazines showed working men and women how to cleanse themselves and become part of the increasingly sweatless, odorless, and successful middle class. Shower for success
By illuminating the historical roots of America's shift from "dreadfully dirty" to "squeaky clean," Chasing Dirt adds a new dimension to our understanding of our national culture. And along the way, it provides colorful and often amusing social history as well as insight into what makes Americans the way we are today.
'Hoy draws from recent histories of medicine, immigration, domestic life, public health, advertising, and women to weave a complex story of the transformation of a literally dirty nation into a clean one ... Readers will never look upon their surroundings or their personal hygiene in quite the same way.'
Suellen Hoy teaches American History at the University of Notre Dame. She is the co-author of From Dublin to New Orleans: The Journey of Nora and Alice.