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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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The American Way

The American Way

(p.87) Chapter Four The American Way
Chasing Dirt

Suellen Hoy

Oxford University Press

This chapter talks about the gradual integration of the then nationwide concern on cleanliness to personal and individual concern. It tackles the effort and work of Booker T. Washington to inculcate middle-class hygiene to African-Americans. In the process of this, hygiene became a route to American citizenship aside from being a way of preventing epidemics. Most Americans associated untidiness with immigrants. Personal cleanliness became a public interest when Americans learned that cleanliness was fundamental to a person's and nation's well-being. Cleanliness also became America's greatest virtue. To the citizens health was wealth. Cleanliness also became a means to be accepted, a measurement of status quo, and an indicator of high civilization. To these ideals and principles, immigrants followed the “American Way” and practices of cleanliness had to be accepted in order to become Americanized.

Keywords:   Booker T. Washington, cleanliness, American Way, health, Americanized, hygiene

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