What's Laundry Got to do With it?: Caring for the Body in the 19th Century United States

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What's Laundry Got to do With it?: Caring for the Body in the 19th Century United States

Presented in partnership with American and New England Studies Program, USM
Speaker: Kathleen M. Brown, Professor of History, University of Pennsylvania

Thursday, September 18, 7:00pm

This program relates to the 2014-2015 museum exhibit, "Home: The Longfellow House and the Emergence of Portland."

The author of Foul Bodies: Cleanliness in Early America joins us to imagine what body care and hygiene may have been like in the Wadsworth-Longfellow House. Nineteenth century Americans were not the first people to read the body for telltale signs of virtue or moral weakness, but they came to these judgments in the context of new standards and practices of body care. Looking back at medical advice books, letters, diaries, and household management books from the time, we can see how body care during that century represented a startling break with the past and foreshadowed some of the dilemmas we face today.

Kathleen Brown is a historian of gender and race in early America and the Atlantic World. Educated at Wesleyan and the University of Wisconsin, Madison, she is also the author of Good Wives, Nasty Wenches, and Anxious Patriarchs: Gender, Race, and Power in Colonial Virginia (Chapel Hill, 1996), which won the Dunning Prize of the American Historical Association for best book by a junior scholar. Brown has been a fellow at the Omohundro Institute for Early American Studies at William and Mary, at the American Antiquarian Society, and a summer fellow at the Bunting Institute at Radcliffe College.

Cost: Free for Maine Historical Society members; $8 for non-members (pay at the door).