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Chasing DirtThe American Pursuit of Cleanliness$
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Suellen Hoy

Print publication date: 1997

Print ISBN-13: 9780195111286

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195111286.001.0001

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A Wider War

A Wider War

(p.29) Chapter Two A Wider War
Chasing Dirt

Suellen Hoy

Oxford University Press

When the Civil War erupted, sanitarians found a national laboratory in which to test their theories and apply their principles. Determined to keep away diseases and to slow down death rates, women and sanitarians formed groups to nurse wounded soldiers and to create a widespread knowledge on the principles of hygiene. The chapter focuses on the works of Florence Nightingale whose principles of cleanliness helped the wounded of the Crimean War. Her example also created a sense of pride among the American women on their role as agents of sanitation. As a result, America saw a great deal of female involvement on the needed reforms regarding cleanliness. This also lead to the creation of a Sanitary Commission headed by Olmsted, the strict standards of Dix on what is an ideal nurse and the integration of the learned virtue of cleanliness in the war camps to the ordinary homes.

Keywords:   Civil War, cleanliness, hygiene, Florence Nightingale, Olmsted, Dix, Crimean War, sanitation

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