Confronting the Modern Era

Read more about 1870s practices on health and hygiene.

These suggestions were taken from a book published in 1870 by two doctors.

  • When carrying the child, alternate sides so it doesn’t become lopsided. 
  • Don’t let a baby walk too soon. It will become bandy-legged.
  • Make sure a baby does not wear tight clothing. The tightness will push the bones into uncouth shapes.
Losing weight
  • Sleep on a hard mattress. Pressure causes fat to disperse.
  • Upon rising in the morning wash from head to toe with a strong brine (salt water).
  • Exercise is a useful assistant to losing fat and causes the fat to be lost faster.
  • Watch foods, avoiding bread, butter, milk, sugar, potatoes, molasses, fat meat, Indian corn, pastry, and beer.

For soft hands (women)

  • In writing, if the pen is held awkwardly, it will soon leave a slight disfigurement.
  • A too small thimble will distort the finger tip.
  • Wear gloves. Do not expose your hands to wind or sun too freely.
  • Don’t wash the hands with water. Use a bottle of pure glycerine.
  • Water should be tepid, not hot or warm.
  • When taken daily, one should not remain in the water longer than three to four minutes. Once a week you may stay 20 to 30 minutes in the water to allow for a thorough soaking.
  • Soap should not be used more often than once or twice a week.
  • Hair should be washed at least once a week. Use a sponge, moistened, to rub soap on the scalp. The hair needs no washing, only the scalp.
Other observations
  • Women’s legs, more politely known as their limbs, are differently arranged than men’s. This is why no woman can run gracefully.
  • You can never find a perfectly fitting shoe in a ready-made shoe store. The feet of no two persons are exactly the same, so no shoe can fit them both.
  • To remove a tan, try washing the area in buttermilk for a few days.  Dig Deeper:  Why didn't 19th century people want to have a tan?
The Laws of Health in Relation to the Human Form by D.G. Brinton, M.D. and G.H. Napheys, M.D., (Springfield, Mass: W.J. Holland, 1870) Facsimile published by Applewood Books, Bedford, Massachusetts, 1994.

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