Download Able-Bodied Womanhood: Personal Health and Social Change in by Martha H. Verbrugge PDF

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By Martha H. Verbrugge

As city lifestyles and women's roles replaced within the nineteenth century, so did attitudes in the direction of actual health and wellbeing and womanhood. subsequently research of wellbeing and fitness reform in Boston among 1830 and 1900, Martha H. Verbrugge examines 3 associations that popularized body structure and workout between middle-class ladies: the women' Physiological Institute, Wellesley university, and the Boston basic tuition of Gymnastics. opposed to the backdrop of a countrywide debate approximately lady tasks and health, this ebook follows middle-class girls as they discovered approximately health and wellbeing and explored the connection among health and femininity. Combining clinical and social heritage, Verbrugge seems to be on the usual girls who participated in health and wellbeing reform and analyzes the conflicting messages--both feminist and conservative--projected by means of the concept that of "able-bodied womanhood."

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Additional info for Able-Bodied Womanhood: Personal Health and Social Change in Nineteenth-Century Boston

Sample text

With health now considered a natural 40 ABLE-BODIED WOMANHOOD and desirable state, Americans needed new ways of recognizing their progress toward that ideal. Some indicators were self-evident. For example, if health was a physical condition in its own right, one should be able to feel it. Health was the experience of positive sensations, such as pleasure and vitality, not simply the absence of discomfort or disease. To be healthy, explained William A. Alcott, is "not merely to be free from pain, .

4 The agents of health reform were heat and light, inspiration and information. 5 What principles and rules did Bostonians learn as they read health tracts, attended physiological lectures, or visited local gymnasia? How did health advocates motivate their audiences for the arduous journey of self-improvement? Their message was a simple one: be well by being good. The antebellum model of health was a blueprint for middle-class values and behavior. 6 Although one can easily locate those themes in nineteenth-century health tracts, it is much harder to gauge their impact on readers' lives.

The home was portrayed as an intimate school where children learned virtue and obedience, and a moral enclave where adult men found refuge from the corrupting world of work. Women were responsible for preserving that environment of goodness and love. As shepherds, not merely custodians, they had control over the well-being of their families and the future of society. 64 The ideal of service was incorporated into antebellum measures of female health. "63 Catharine Beecher, a chief architect of the cult of domesticity, applied an operational test.

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