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Eutycus

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I have heard a couple of stories about Ivory soap as well. I don''t have any idea which is right or even close to the truth? All I know is my mother always bought Ivory soap? I didn't even know or care if there was another brand. Many years have past and tried and true Ivory is in my house?
My wife asked me the other day did I take a shower? I told her,""not that I could recall. ! I didn't even know one was missing''? LOL
I heard that the "floating characteristic" of Ivory was discovered purely by accident. It just so happened there was a market for floating soap. The developers were not looking into floating soap on purpose. Kind of like the vulcanisation of rubber. They stumbled upon it. Serendipity?
 

Brokennock

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A lot of millet. Many were nomadic goat herdsman and a few had scrawny cattle. So, they had some meat and maybe milk.
Maybe not the healthiest ideal diet for humans, but, also not a lot of "food" out of plastic/bags and packaging. Sounds like they aren't eating a lot of "food" that was "developed" by food scientists in a lab kitchen and involving panels and testing, and ingredients we can't pronounce.
So, they aren't processing and sweating out a bunch of stuff not meant to be in the human body.
 
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They made soap for some reason.
You bet and they boiled their clothing also. Boiling was a preferred method to get rid of vermin. Fleas were common as were body lice.
 

Snooterpup

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I heard that the "floating characteristic" of Ivory was discovered purely by accident. It just so happened there was a market for floating soap. The developers were not looking into floating soap on purpose. Kind of like the vulcanisation of rubber. They stumbled upon it. Serendipity?
My 8th grade English teacher used Ivory soap’s floating characteristic as an example of psychological advertising. He quoted “99.9 percent pure, so pure it floats.” Then he proceeded to point out that raw sewage also floats.
 
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Speaking of Ivory Soap and Body odor I was never partial to smelling like Ivory soap. Maybe just me but I seem to always know a person that used it, in close proximity soon after a bath it’s odor was distinct. Same with the flake version for clothes washing, just didn’t like the smell.
 
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I have to dig around for my books for that era....I am not saying people "stunk" but it was far from "rosy" too.
We have to keep in mind the social effects of the industrial revolution. Cities suddenly grew, coal became common fuel. Water and sanitation took a big hit. As did food supplies. Community water supplies were often limited to a not so clean well serving dozens of families
What we can say about New York or London in 1800 isn’t true of those places in 1700 and none of it is true for the village a half a days walk out of town.
Above was mentioned the Great Basin Indians vs Sioux ,or the south Saharan people above, but we have to keep in mind the water resources available.
I am put in mind of Matty in True Grit, who wanted water to wash with, and Rooster telling her we have no water for that, take a swig and be done.
The story set in the Winding Stairs, where water was not a problem, but did still have to be transported to camp.
We could look at the sudden problems caused by the WBTS when unprecedented American Armies were suddenly put together with limited logistics. Life in an army camp that would be a big city in the time, was a world of different from the small towns and farm life of its inhabitants.
Even among a ‘clean peoples’ like the Sioux we have to keep in mind camp was moved every few days. So sanitation food transport and water supplies never got to be a problem
 

Mustang65

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In a recent and ongoing thread some age old myths about colonial life surfaced. I confess I only read about a page, and had to pen this....


NO Bathing?
So we hear this a lot, and how people would douse themselves to the point of being self-marinated in perfume, because they didn't bathe. This is Balderdash upon Balderdash. They rarely conducted full immersion bathing in the home..., because it was a pain in the arse to heat all that water (especially in a quick manner) , and to maintain a vessel for the purpose aka a bathtub. (Ben Franklin was rich enough to own such BTW). Authors in the past for some unknown reason decided that since there was no bathtub in the home, and some sources mentioned "bathing" only once or twice a year, that meant that they didn't "wash" their bodies. They never bothered to look into the fact that when the old sources used the term "bathing" they mean full immersion, and not always in hot water. There is AMPLE evidence that folks performed washing of more than their face and hands on a regular basis. We would call this a "sponge bath". Franklin regularly aired his body in his rooms, calling the procedure an "air bath"... and today we know that a lot of the odor causing bacteria on the body is anaerobic (which is why the stinkiest of places on a person are the crevices on the skin where moisture doesn't evaporate, and are dark most of the time.

As for the perfume "dousing" that was simply another one of the "conclusions" of so called historians, who simply decided that since perfume existed, and bathtubs didn't then it must have been used to cover the stench. Of course it never occurs to these same "scholars" that such perfume was highly expensive. The same way that you hear how "pepper" was used to cover the taste of tainted meat so was desired by Europeans who had no refrigeration at that time in history... ignoring the fact that spices were SO expensive that IF you could afford pepper you darn well could afford fresh meat.... so wouldn't need the pepper.....

Washing of Clothing?
Folks, part of hygiene in the 18th century, in fact a major part, was in using clean clothing on a daily basis. So not only was washing with water and a cloth performed, but changing clothes on a regular basis was performed. Not to mention that a lot of clothing was also for protection, i.e. women wearing a head covering was fashion but kept their hair cleaner than not from soot and smoke and perspiration. A recent study was done where one man bathed as modern folks do and the other wore 18th century clothing and changed into something clean every day, sometimes changing twice a day. Results for the guy not "bathing" was only a slightly higher amount of personal bacteria and much akin to several European nations today in this century. This use of clothing wasn't a practice for just the "rich" or the "prosperous" either, as information on common folk on the "frontier" show a good quantity of clothing especially the clothing that was worn as undergarments. Further Proof? Folks, Castile Soap (hard, lye soap) was exported into Antwerp, Belgium in the 1560s. In the 1600's the Spanish purchased a monopoly on the stuff in Europe and then it later caused a problem in England as it was cheap enough to supplant the soft soap that the English were making and using. (Until widespread availability of hard [Castile] soap, all soap was "soft" ) . IF folks aren't using it to wash themselves.... what then? Clothing.

Further, the bathtub was commonly found in homes by the middle of the 19th century, but the first commercial deodorant, known as Mum, didn't appear until 1888. Zinc was discovered in 1746. Zinc Oxide was in wide use by 1850, and at the time it's active ingredient was zinc oxide. Mum is still made today btw, but has a different formula.

So folks weren't covered in filth and reeking during in the Colonial Period.

The Language was hard to Understand?
Um so here is some written text, text based on the spoken language of the period....,

"There do not frequently occur opportunities of obtaining a passage from Charlestown to Norfolk : the season was too far advance to admit of travelling on horseback through North-Carolina, and making in that state a sufficiently long stay to acquire good information. After having waited a week for a vessel to convey me to Virginia I had engaged a birth [berth] in a sloop, but my Charleston friends thought it too much encumbered with passengers to allow of my being conveniently accommodated on board..." from a journal of 1799

The subsistence of the men in Hospital must be thrown into a fund, for the benefit of the whole in general, and no particular account given to each man, in what manner his money has been expended ; for though the disorder of one may not require the consumption of his Pay, yet that of another may much more, when wine, rich broths, and things of that kind are absolutely necessary : Cuthbertson 1776

Going back a little more than a century, we can still read and understand this recipe

Take a Pottle of Cream, and boil in it a little whole Cinnamon, and three or four flakes of Mace. To this proportion of Cream, put in eighteen yolks of Eggs, and eight of the whites ; a pint of Sack [sweet sherry] ; beat your eggs very well, and then mingle them with your Sack. Put in three quarters of a pound of sugar into the Wine and Eggs with a Nutmeg grated, and a little beaten Cinnamon ; set the basin on the fire with the wine and eggs and let it be hot. Then put in the Cream boyling from the fire ; pour in on high, but stir it not ; cover it with a dish, and when it is settled, strew on the top a little fine Sugar mingled with three grains of Ambergreece, and one grain of Musk, and serve it up. Sir Kenelm Digby 1669

Now yes, there were no established norms in spelling, the font of the printing of the time at first reading may be tough but regular reading and it becomes easy, and the further back one goes one gets some interesting phrasing, not to mention some accents and other dialects were found, but the majority of the people who were British subjects could and did speak English similar to what we would speak today. It's not Shakespeare and definitely not Chaucerian English.

Life expectancy

Compared to today, where we have childhood vaccines, antibiotics, antivirals, anesthetics, and chemotherapy (not just for cancer btw), the medicine of the 18th century sucked. BUT folks confuse "average life expectancy" stats with survival expectancy. The reason the life expectancy was low in the 18th century was childhood mortality due to a lack of pre-natal care and vaccines, which skews the average downwards. IF you survived past about 5 years of age..., you were likely to live to be old age, if you avoided a war zone. And "avoiding a war zone" doesn't mean being involved in the fighting but avoiding being exposed to bacteria and viruses cheerfully brought to your village by a moving army, even your own country's army. In New England in the 17th Century, it became common for people to know their grandparents, and by the 18th century, people in Britain were living to between 50 and 65, BUT people in the English Colonies in America were living on average as much as 20 years more, to 65-70, and it was not unheard of to live into one's 80's.

LD
Thanks for the article. It was not only interesting but truthfully informative, The part about life expectancy was also very truthful and interesting, as we have seen sooo many folks living in to their 70's, 80's, and 90's. So the fact that so many believe that in the 1800's the average age of say 38 was life expectancy, was very misleading. Excellent article.
 
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We have to keep in mind the social effects of the industrial revolution. Cities suddenly grew, coal became common fuel. Water and sanitation took a big hit. As did food supplies. Community water supplies were often limited to a not so clean well serving dozens of families
What we can say about New York or London in 1800 isn’t true of those places in 1700 and none of it is true for the village a half a days walk out of town.
Above was mentioned the Great Basin Indians vs Sioux ,or the south Saharan people above, but we have to keep in mind the water resources available.
I am put in mind of Matty in True Grit, who wanted water to wash with, and Rooster telling her we have no water for that, take a swig and be done.
The story set in the Winding Stairs, where water was not a problem, but did still have to be transported to camp.
We could look at the sudden problems caused by the WBTS when unprecedented American Armies were suddenly put together with limited logistics.
Even among a ‘clean peoples’ like the Sioux we have to keep in mind camp was moved every few days. So sanitation food transport and water supplies never got to be a problem
Absolutely. In Idaho, just middle of the state, west side, there is a basin called Indian Valley. During the winter, the Shoshone/Bannock used to congregate in large numbers there as it was a traditional wintering site. When an inversion set in the stench in the valley was overwhelming from human waste, rotting offal, and thousands of unbathe bodies. Writings of the time, in particular miners, passing through the area give some very descriptive tales. The Sioux would bath first thing of the morning according to the writers of the time who lived with and around them. Each tribe was different.

As for the 1700 cities, Franklin's autobiography does go into some description of the sanitation facilities, or rather the lack there of, in several of the places he passed through, but there is no doubt the rapid expansion of cities caused lots of problems...hence the adoption of building codes.

As for life expectancy and cleanliness, it varied widely depending on social class, life styles and disease whereas nowadays, at least in the industrialized nations, it is much more homogenous.
 
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Mustang65

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As someone who grew up in the mountains of Virginia as poor as an acorn, we did not get running water in our home until I was 13 years old. We bathed every day during the school year and every other day during the summertime. We didn't have a bathtub per se but did have a galvanized tub we children would bathe in during the summer. During the cold months, we washed in the kitchen out of wash pans from water heated on the kitchen stove and our coal stove. We didn't have a well or spring, but our neighbors allowed us to use theirs every day which was about 300 yards from our house. We, children, carried the water in Clorox and milk jugs each and every day, come rain, snow, or sunshine. One of my other daily chores was to keep kindlin cut, coal buckets filled, and keep the ashes out of the stoves. We had two Buckeye coal stoves. I don't ever remember anyone in the house having body odor, as my mamaw made sure we cleaned ourselves on a regular basis. I do remember when Mamaw got our Papas black lung back pay, she had a well drilled, and we built a pump house and she bought some lumber from the local sawmill and we built a bathroom that had a sink, toilet, and a shower. I remember enjoying a shower inside, but thinking it was nasty to use the toilet in the house, even though it was a modern flush type. Up till then, we had an outhouse at the end of the backyard which had its challenges in both summer and winter as you can imagine.
Same here scottbeverly2004. Never saw indoor plumbing facilities until 1957. Mom had a old farm house handle pump on the kitchen counter, that was it. Bathed in a wash tub and clean clothes every day to school. If you had to go at night, dad had a bucket in an empty room that was covered, and would take it to the outhouse in the morning to empty. Coal and or wood stove for cooking and heating. We didn't know we or think that we had it hard, it was just a part of normal life for us. Those days were good, none of this garbage going on like we have today!!
 
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Being poor doesn't necessarily mean underprivileged. Tough times temper and produce tough people.

There were times in the sheep business that we didn't have much money for "things", but as my Dad said, we weren't going to starve and those people with all those "thing" sure as hell won't be able to eat them when times get really tough.
 
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Same here scottbeverly2004. Never saw indoor plumbing facilities until 1957. Mom had a old farm house handle pump on the kitchen counter, that was it. Bathed in a wash tub and clean clothes every day to school. If you had to go at night, dad had a bucket in an empty room that was covered, and would take it to the outhouse in the morning to empty. Coal and or wood stove for cooking and heating. We didn't know we or think that we had it hard, it was just a part of normal life for us. Those days were good, none of this garbage going on like we have today!!
Life was much simpler back then. As long as you had a buck saw and an axe you could cut wood for kindling, and a coal pile, and life was good. We kept old milk jugs at the end of our bed for those nighttime relief sessions and emptied them in the outhouse the next morning. Our biggest concern was not having enough water jugs filled up from the neighbor's spring.
 
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All of this brought to mind the Oregon Trail. The vast majority of deaths occurred during the stretch of trail along the South Platte from dysentery, cholera and Typhoid fever, lots of people defecating along the slow moving and swamp like (in places) river infecting those who came next.

So even moving frequently, unless it was to an area untouched by humans for a while, didn't keep you safe.
 

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Life was much simpler back then. As long as you had a buck saw and an axe you could cut wood for kindling, and a coal pile, and life was good. We kept old milk jugs at the end of our bed for those nighttime relief sessions and emptied them in the outhouse the next morning. Our biggest concern was not having enough water jugs filled up from the neighbor's spring.
The way things are going we'll be back to those days real soon. Those of us that experienced those times will fare well, those that didn't, well, so long.
 
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Speaking of Ivory Soap and Body odor I was never partial to smelling like Ivory soap. Maybe just me but I seem to always know a person that used it, in close proximity soon after a bath it’s odor was distinct. Same with the flake version for clothes washing, just didn’t like the smell.
I can’t stand the smell or the feel of it on my skin, but it’s great for “brain” tanning deerskins when no brains are handy. I grate 1/2 bar of Ivory and mix it with 1/2c olive oil and 1c boiling water. Once the soap is all dissolved, mix it into enough bath-warm water to immerse the hide, and away you go!
Jay
 
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