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Chasing Dirt – The American Pursuit of Cleanliness - Oxford Scholarship Online
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Chasing Dirt: The American Pursuit of Cleanliness

Suellen Hoy


Americans in the early 19th century were, as one foreign traveler bluntly put it, “filthy, bordering on the beastly.” Yet gradually this changed, and today Americans are known for their obsession with cleanliness. This book provides a history of this transformation, from the pre-Civil War era to the 1950s. The book 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 attitudes toward cleanliness, discussing the work of the U.S. Sanitary Commission, headed by Frederick Law Olmsted, and reve ... More

Keywords: cleanliness, American Civil War, Catharine Beecher, Sylvester Graham, U.S. Sanitary Commission, Frederick Law Olmsted, Florence Nightingale

Bibliographic Information

Print publication date: 1997 Print ISBN-13: 9780195111286
Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011 DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195111286.001.0001


Affiliations are at time of print publication.

Suellen Hoy, author