How Night Air Became Good Air, 1776-1930

TRAVELING THROUGH New Jersey in September 1776, John Adams and Benjamin Franklin stopped for the night at an inn so full that they were forced to share a cramped, single room with only one window. “The Window was open,” Adams recalled in his autobiography, “and I, who was an invalid and afraid of the Air in the night (blowing upon me), shut it close. Oh! says Franklin dont shut the Window. We shall be suffocated. I answered I was afraid of the Evening Air. Dr. Franklin replied, the Air within this Chamber will soon be, and indeed is now worse than that without Doors: come! open the Window and come to bed, and I will convince you: I believe you are not acquainted with my Theory of Colds.” Adams did as he was told, while his learned bed-mate “began an harrangue, upon Air and cold and Respiration and Perspiration, with which I was so much amused that I soon fell asleep and left him and his Philosophy together.”[1]

Franklin’s lecture washed over the slumbering Adams like a cool New Jersey breeze, but in the long run such opinions would prove harder to ignore. For the next century and a half, numerous scientists, doctors, architects and household advice writers would admonish Americans about their fear of night air. The common practice of closing the windows at night, they warned, was far less healthy than breathing fresh air from outdoors. Yet Americans proved to be at least as skeptical or inattentive as John Adams; until the twentieth century they still were being scolded for their superstitions.

Though the conflict between expert opinion and public behavior would end in a victory for the experts, this was no clear-cut triumph of science over superstition. Most of those who called for improved ventilation in the nineteenth century based their arguments on medical theories that later would be discredited, while those who feared the night air eventually were validated by medical research: A stuffy room may have been unpleasant to sleep in, but an open window invited in mosquitoes that would be found to carry disease. Furthermore, the dispute over night air reflected considerations beyond those of medical science. The growing call for ventilation in the nineteenth century was inspired in part by changes in household technology, not least of which was the heating stove pioneered by Franklin himself. Also contributing to the discussion were changes in the middle-class conception of the home, heightened fears about the foulness of the body, and new ideas about the human relationship with nature. By the early twentieth century, a man of Adams’s status would have insisted on sleeping with the window open, but for reasons less narrowly medical than those put forth by Franklin on that night in 1776.

The story of how night air became good air illustrates the intimate interconnections that once existed between perceptions of bodily health and perceptions of the natural world, and thus can be read as a contribution to building the “environmental history of the body” proposed by Christopher Sellers.[2] The place of the body in nature was particularly open to debate in the nineteenth century, an era of radical change in the physical landscape, domestic technology, and medical knowledge. Until a new consensus emerged, the simple question of whether to open the window became laden with a tangle of unstable meanings.

Avoiding Miasma

ESSENTIAL TO LIFE while potentially carrying death, fresh air required careful management in the home, nineteenth-century medical experts advised. The prominent Cincinnati physician Daniel Drake wrote in 1850 that good ventilation was usually desirable, but that it could pose serious dangers after dark: “In summer or autumn, it is right to let down the sash, or otherwise close up the windows, before we go to sleep,” he wrote. “Two effects result from this: first, the exclusion of malaria, or the poison which produces autumnal fever; second, the exclusion of moisture, which in the latter part of the night, often chills the body. This rule is especially necessary in the south, and along our great water-courses, where bad air and fogs so much abound.”[3]

When Drake used the word “malaria,” he meant it in the original Italian sense of “bad air.” Bad air, in his mind, was the cause of the malarial diseases variously known as autumnal fever, intermittent fever, or fever and ague. Other doctors believed miasmas were also to blame for various gastrointestinal maladies. In this era before knowledge of germs and insect vectors, Drake was expressing the dominant view among American medical experts: the “zymotic” or “miasmatic” theory, in which disease-causing vapors called “miasmas” were believed to rise from the soil, from rotting vegetation, and from foul water. Miasmas were thought to be particularly dangerous near swamps or newly cleared farmland, especially at night. Even living vegetation could emit harmful vapors at night, claimed Catharine Beecher in 1841. “Thus it appears, that the atmosphere of day is much more healthful than that of the night, especially out of doors.”[4]

It was a common practice throughout the nineteenth century to retreat to indoor safety after dark. Men and women of delicate health, in particular, avoided setting foot outdoors at night. Safely inside, many Americans tried to seal off the house from the night air by closing all the doors and windows. “The object of people generally appears to be to shut out the pure air of heaven—the breath of life—from bed-chambers, under the mistaken notion that night air is injurious,” wrote one dissenter in 1862. Even in unbearably hot weather, some people tried to preserve their health by fighting the urge to open the windows. “It’s as hot as an oven tonight …” complained George Templeton Strong of New York in a June 1843 diary entry. “And here I’m sitting—positively stewing—and afraid to open the window and let in what little cool air there may be stirring, for this murderous influenza is going about like a raging hyena.” Only when the morning sun had burned away the mists, mid-nineteenth-century health experts advised, could people safely fling their windows wide open to the fresh new air.[5]

Ventilating the Stuffy Room

CHANGES IN HEATING technology in the nineteenth century encouraged a shift in expert opinion toward stronger advocacy of constant ventilation. During most of the colonial period, homes had been heated by large, open fireplaces. The roaring fires consumed prodigious piles of wood—as much as thirty or forty cords a year in a New England home—and sent a steady current of air up the chimney. Such fires were inefficient sources of heat, warming little more than a circle around the hearth, but they had the advantage of drawing plenty of fresh air through chinks in the walls, under the door, and around the windows. Many bedrooms were completely unheated; water froze in the basins at night and frost formed on the sheets. Some other bedrooms had their own fireplaces. In either case, people kept the windows tightly shut in a forlorn attempt to keep out the cold.[6]

Fireplaces were already becoming smaller and more efficient by 1744, the year Benjamin Franklin wrote his famous treatise on stoves. Franklin proposed improving efficiency further by inserting an iron stove inside the fireplace, thus reducing the heat loss up the chimney and allowing warmed air to flow around the stove and into the room. Franklin’s stove became widely used among the affluent and then among ordinary Americans in the early nineteenth century. Additional improvements reduced the price, increased efficiency, and restricted airflow. The resulting “air-tight” stoves of the mid-nineteenth century were capable of heating entire rooms by warming the air, instead of merely radiating heat around the hearth. Central furnaces in the homes of the wealthy could heat the whole house. Simultaneously, builders of the better new homes strove for tighter construction to reduce drafts. By the 1860s and 1870s, also, some householders put up storm windows in winter, and applied caulking or rubber weatherstripping to get an airtight seal. These improvements in heating technology and construction combined to create a new threat to domestic comfort: the stuffy room. Airflow through these up-to-date rooms was reduced, while the limited oxygen was consumed by the stove and by the increasingly common gas lamp. American observers and foreign travelers began to complain of overheating in stuffy homes, hotels, and railway cars.[7]

These practices persisted because many Americans relished their victory over winter weather, explained architect Lewis Allen in 1852. A successful man who recalled the cold bedroom of his childhood, Lewis wrote, “is resolved that his children shall encounter no such hardships. … He therefore determines to have a snug, close house, where the cold cannot penetrate. He employs all his ingenuity to make every joint an air-tight fit; the doors must swing to an air-tight joint; the windows set into air-tight frames; and to perfect the catalogue of his comforts, an air-tight stove is introduced into every occupied room which, perchance, if he can afford it, are further warmed and poisoned by the heated flues of an air-tight furnace in his air-tight cellar. In short, it is an air-tight concern throughout.”[8]

Architects, health experts, and household advice writers increasingly criticized such conditions and called for improved ventilation. Some urged a return to the open fireplace, but most preferred installing ventilation devices—technological solutions to a technological problem. Home-building guides of the mid-nineteenth century were filled with examples. The texts and accompanying diagrams proposed systems of air registers in the walls, floors, and windows; vents in the chimneys; and foul-air ducts from the ceiling to the roof. Diagrams of air currents showed how such devices could replenish the air in the room with healthier air from outdoors.[9]

The Exhalations of Our Bodies

ADVOCATES OF VENTILATION argued that fresh air was needed in the summer as well as the winter; people who sought to preserve their health by shutting out the night air, they warned, forced themselves to breathe air that was far more dangerous. In the opinion of these writers, sleepers in stuffy rooms were slowly suffocating in a toxic fog of their own breath, sweat, and flatulence. Simply by breathing, a man was said to spoil 350 cubic feet of air a day—or was it 10 cubic feet a minute? Or perhaps 20? Experts differed. They agreed, however, that as human lungs gradually consumed the oxygen in the room, the resulting “vitiated air” contained poisonous levels of carbonic acid, better known today as carbon dioxide. “Carbonic acid is not the only cause of disease,” added Catharine Beecher and Harriet Beecher Stowe in their 1869 housekeeping guide, The American Woman’s Home. “Experiments seem to prove that other matter thrown out of the body, through the lungs and skin, is as truly excrement and in a state of decay as that ejected from the bowels, and as poisonous to the animal system.” According to the various ventilation advocates, air polluted by “human breaths and the exhalations of our bodies” was to blame for headaches, irritability, lassitude, pallor, sore eyes, colds, catarrhs, nausea, rheumatism, gout, scrofula, measles, rickets, diphtheria, bronchitis, pneumonia, typhus, consumption, and general feebleness.[10]

Danger to health, it would seem, came not merely from the great outdoors but also from within the human body. According to the ventilation advocates of the mid-nineteenth century, humanity and civilization were fraught with disease. The worst danger was thought to come from crowded urban slums. Middle-class Americans in the mid-nineteenth century sought to protect themselves from moral and physical contamination by the poor. The proper home was now viewed as a refuge from the world, and the preferred middle-class neighborhood was at a distance from the tenement districts. The middle classes further distinguished themselves from their social inferiors by their fastidious attention to domestic and personal cleanliness.[11] But at least in matters of health, sanitary experts suggested, the middle-class home was not the refuge that it appeared to be. Mid-nineteenth-century sanitarians warned that disease would enter middle-class homes by wafting on the breeze from the slums. New York physician John H. Griscom warned in 1845 that diseases would arise from fetor of Gotham’s tenements and back alleys, from which they might “extend to among and jeopard [sic] the lives of better classes of citizens.” The Sanitary Commission of Massachusetts in 1850 quoted British studies to show that contamination from the most squalid hovels would infect the atmosphere over the entire city. New York’s Council of Hygiene in 1866 reported that filthy fever-nests were found “within a few hundred feet of wealthy and well-kept mansions.” The filth also was said to breed drunkenness, immorality, crime, and rioting— further threats to affluent homes. Popular fiction as well as medical reports placed disease within a tangle of urban pathologies: Urban civilization was a danger to moral and physical health. In George Foster’s 1850 novel, Celio, one of the characters observed “that there was something in the atmosphere of a city which seemed not only to choke up his lungs but to suffocate the very soul within him.” Foster agreed with this sentiment, adding that “there can be no doubt that the poisonous exhalations of a large city correspond not merely by accident … with the moral miasmas which are generated by its hot contacts and unnatural struggles.”[12]

It was impossible to avoid urban miasmas merely by closing the windows of the home. For one thing, the danger was always present in theaters, schools, ballrooms, and any other place where people mingled. Pre-breathed air in public spaces would undermine the most determined attempt at personal purity, wrote fresh-air fanatic Sereno Edwards Todd in 1870. “Fastidious persons, who would recoil at the thought of merely tasting any food that had been in contact with the mouth of another, even if he were neat and clean, inhale the fetid air that has been not only in the mouths of repulsive and filthy people, but that has been again and again in the diseased lungs of those whose breath is as corrupt as a filthy stream of water.”[13] Within the walls of the home, modern sanitary conveniences offered a still more disgusting and dangerous connection with all sorts of other people. American urban homes in the nineteenth century were linked as never before by networks of utilities: water lines, gas lines, telephone lines, electric lines, and sewers, as the architectural historian David Handlin has observed. Each of these links in some way diminished the independence of the household, particularly the households of middle-class and wealthy people who were attempting to make the home a sanctuary from the world. Not without reason, Americans worried that they could be poisoned by illuminating gas or burned by electrical fires. But the sewer line was perceived as the most dangerous gap in the defenses of the home, and the one that challenged a central feature of middle-class identity: the pride they took in superior cleanliness. The sink, the flush toilet, and the sewer literally formed a pipeline to the vilest contamination that befouled the city. Sanitation expert George E. Waring, Jr. was merely the most prominent of many writers in the 1870s who inveighed against sewer gas. This human-made miasma, the product of decomposing excrement, supposedly could seep up from cesspools or sewer mains to poison the home. According to Waring, any drain or toilet lacking a proper trap provided an opening for sewer gas. “It is simply impossible that under our ordinary methods of arrangement this air can be prevented from mingling with that of our imperfectly ventilated sleeping-rooms and living rooms,” Waring wrote. Bad interior air also was thought to rise from damp cellars, particularly ones in which stored vegetables were decaying.[14]

These various threats to air quality—the combustion of oxygen by stoves and gas jets, the exhalation of carbonic acid and bodily effluvia by the family, and the invisible dangers of sewer gas—made the tightly sealed home an unhealthy place indeed, numerous writers warned in the mid to late nineteenth century. New York physician Robert Tomes declared in 1873 that any man who sought to seal himself within the sanctuary of his domestic castle only “shuts himself up in it with his worst enemies.”[15]

Nature and Night

CONTRIBUTING TO THIS critique of the hermetically sealed home was an increasing desire for a balance between civilization and nature. Mid-nineteenth-century Americans, like their colonial or European forebears, remained leery of true, untouched wilderness. Yet the urban middle classes were growing uneasy about overcivilization and were coming to admire a touch of wildness at the edge of a cultivated or pastoral “middle landscape.” This aesthetic of the picturesque manifested itself in Andrew Jackson Downing’s designs for cottages and gardens, in Frederick Law Olmsted’s parks, and in the feminine vogue of “botanizing” or plant study. Suburban villas proliferated as affluent urban Americans sought therapeutic immersion in nature. Plan books showed houses in isolated, natural settings, apart from other human activity but surrounded by trees, lawns, and shrubs.[16]

Similarly, two widely read books by Catharine Beecher and Harriet Beecher Stowe in the 1860s urged American women to eschew excessive materialism in favor of healthy contact with the natural world. Stowe’s own fictionalized House and Home Papers, and the two sisters’ housekeeping manual The American Woman’s Home, both strongly criticized the loss of sunshine and fresh air from affluent homes. The family in House and Home Papers foolishly attempts to protect the parlor carpet by interposing “three distinct sets of fortifications against the sunshine in those windows: first, outside blinds; then solid, folding, inside shutters; and, lastly, thick, lined damask curtains, which loop quite down to the floor.” American housewives who protected their rooms in this manner made them “close and somber as the grave,” Stowe wrote. Instead, “Our houses must have fresh air, —everywhere, at all times, winter and summer. … All our fixtures shall be of the plainest and simplest, but we will have fresh air … In our house we will live cleanly and Christianly. We will no more breathe the foul air rejected from a neighbor’s lungs than we will use a neighbor’s tooth-brush and hair-brush. Such is the first essential of ‘our house,’ —the first great element of human health and happiness,—AIR.”[17]

In contrast to Beecher’s earlier Treatise on Domestic Economy, the sisters’ new housekeeping manual scoffed at the fear of night air. Evidently drawing on similar arguments in Florence Nightingale’s Notes on Nursing (1859), they wrote: “There is a prevailing prejudice against night air as unhealthful to be admitted into sleeping-rooms, which is owing wholly to sheer ignorance. In the night every body necessarily breathes night air and no other … Thus the question is, Shall we shut up a chamber and breathe night air vitiated with carbonic acid, or night air that is pure?”[18] In 1870, the year after the publication of The American Woman’s Home, Sereno Todd again drew on Nightingale’s work in arguing for the natural benefits of outdoor air, day and night. Unlike indoor air, he wrote, outdoor air was continually purified by the sun, the rain, the growing plants, and the breezes of heaven. Night air was often the best, at least in large cities, as it was the least polluted. Todd further challenged the fear that night air was too cold and damp, arguing that contrary to common belief, damp air was the healthiest. “During the coldest weather in winter, I always open my window,’ he explained, “and let the pure breezes of heaven blow in my face while I sleep. And I never took cold from such a course. Instead of looking as pale and cadaverous as a ghost, my countenance is as ruby as the face of a whiskey toper, simply because I get pure air to breathe.[19]

Night had long been described in Western writing as representing the antithesis of civilized life; it was feared as a time when wild nature reasserted its power, and when people escaped from social restrictions.[20] These same qualities, though, were perceived more positively by the mid-nineteenth century, as Romantics reevaluated the benefits of civilized life and celebrated nature, feeling, and the irrational. Henry David Thoreau, who in 1851 had spoken “a word for Nature, for absolute freedom and wildness,” wrote a later essay celebrating “Night and Moonlight.” Published posthumously in 1863, the essay compared the little-known hours of darkness to uncharted wilderness. “Is not the midnight like Central Africa to most of us? Are we not tempted to explore it, —to penetrate to the shores of its Lake Tschad, and discover the source of the Nile, perchance the Mountains of the Moon?” he asked.[21]

Like Thoreau, ventilation advocates thought civilized man could be strengthened by contact with nature. Still, most believed the ideal balance would involve less absolute wildness than Thoreau sought on the heights of Katahdin or in the midnight countryside of Concord, a less bracing blast of night air than what filled Sereno Todd’s frigid bedroom. Nighttime air had its benefits—the atmosphere was, after all, cleaner than during hours when factories were belching forth coal smoke—but it should be not be taken at full strength.[22] The writers of house-building guides, health advice books, and housekeeping manuals suggested numerous ways to filter the night air, to admit its beneficial properties while excluding its hazards. They wanted Americans to breathe modified, tamed nature—a kind of middle landscape for the lungs.

Filtering the Air

AS LONG AS homes were not located near sources of miasma—and home-building guides offered instructions for avoiding such places—the dangers of night air were said to consist of cold, dampness, and drafts. A cold, damp draft blowing directly on a sleeper could be even more injurious than stale air. “It is important to bring in a constant supply of fresh air … and to introduce it in such a way as not to let in also the influenza,” wrote architect George Woodward in 1873. This could be accomplished by having fresh air enter the house through a pipe into the cellar, through the floor, and into an iron case surrounding the heating stove. When warmed by the stove, the air would rise through perforations in the top of the iron case. Other writers recommended installing furnaces, with warm air ducts or with steam radiators by the windows. A cheap solution was to raise the lower sash of a window by a few inches, and to block the opening with a board; the board would prevent direct drafts at bed level, but outside air could still enter between the two sashes and flow upward toward the ceiling. Ventilation advocates opposed the heavy curtains that some people drew around their beds to keep out the night air, but they suggested that thin muslin curtains or mosquito netting could allow fresh air while breaking up drafts; air strained through the fabric also supposedly would lose its dampness. Other writers suggested that wire screens over ventilation tubes could also help break up drafts.[23]

Only by accident did this advice begin to address what later researchers would identify as the truly dangerous element of night air: disease-carrying mosquitoes. Yellow fever and malaria, both spread by mosquitoes, were significant causes of death in nineteenth-century America. Yellow-fever epidemics periodically killed hundreds or even thousands of people, particularly in the lower Mississippi Valley and the Gulf Coast, but also in Norfolk, Charleston, Savannah, Atlanta, and Memphis. Malaria was common in swampy areas and near rivers, both North and South. Though associated mainly with the countryside, it was also a danger in cities. Malaria killed hundreds of people a year in late-nineteenth-century New York City, reaching a peak of 457 dead in 1881. It remained common in New York’s outer boroughs until the early twentieth century. Even in New England, where malaria had seemed to subside after the early colonial era, the disease made a strong reappearance in the late nineteenth century, particularly along the coast and in the river valleys.[24]

Nineteenth-century urban development favored the growth of mosquito populations. Aedes aegypti, the yellow fever mosquito, likes to breed in cisterns, rainbarrels, buckets, and other small water containers in and around houses. New Orleans’s numerous drinking water cisterns provided an excellent habitat for Aedes aegypti larvae; once mature, the mosquitoes found ready access to blood inside the home. Anopheles mosquitoes, which can carry malaria, prefer to breed in swamps, stagnant pools, and puddles in poorly drained soil. Cities unintentionally created these breeding grounds in the process of bringing reservoir water into town. As the growth of sewer systems lagged behind the growth of water systems in the mid-nineteenth century, discharges from sinks and toilets raised groundwater levels and left stagnant pools in yards, streets, and gutters.[25] The illumination of city homes by gas in the nineteenth century may have further increased the problem of mosquito bites. Aedes aegypti normally prefer to bite in the daytime; however, they can be stimulated to feed at night by artificial light. Anopheles mosquitoes prefer nocturnal feedings; their habit of flying toward light sources may have made them especially obnoxious in gaslit rooms with open windows. Gas lamps also produced carbon dioxide, which has been found to stimulate vigorous activity among anophelines.[26]

Medical researchers did not demonstrate the connection between mosquitoes and malaria until the late 1890s, and did not connect mosquitoes and yellow fever until 1900.[27] People in the nineteenth century thought of mosquitoes not as sources of disease but as nuisances. In New Orleans, wrote Benjamin Latrobe in his diary in 1819, “the muskitoes are so important a body of enemies that they furnish a considerable part of the conversation of every day and of every body; they regulate many family arrangements, they prescribe the employment and distribution of time, and most essentially affect the comfort and enjoyments of every individual.” Latrobe observed that “as soon as the sun sets the muskitoes appear in clouds & fill every room in the house, as well as the open air. Their noise is so loud as to startle a stranger to its daily recurrence. It fills the air, and there is a character of occasional depression and elevation in it, like that of a concert of frogs in a marsh.” Residents of northern cities experienced some of the same problems. George Templeton Strong complained in his diary many times about the annoying bloodsuckers. “Driven nearly desperate by the mosquitoes all the rest of the night as the small hours drew on,” he wrote in September, 1848, “I commenced promenading the room with my eyeglass on my nose, candle in one hand and handkerchief in the other, ‘deer stalking’ on a small scale.”[28]

Housewives shared home recipes for mosquito repellents to smear on faces and hands. Settlers on the frontier lit smudge fires around their cabins. By the turn of the century, anti-mosquito powders and “pastilles” were burned to chase mosquitoes from a room. None of these worked very well. “I have washed face and hands in various liquids, and burned pastilles until I, myself, have coughed and choked on them, then, after putting out the light, have heard the mosquitoes recommence their serenade about my prostrate form with a persistence worthy of a better cause,” reported one household advice writer in 1910. The best solution in the nineteenth-century home was to drape mosquito netting over the bedposts, or over the desk where a writer was at work late. Quality netting was expensive—as much as $16 in the late 1860s for a canopy to cover one bed—and persistent mosquitoes managed to sneak through anyway.[29]

Wire window screens grew in popularity in the late nineteenth century. Hand-woven, wire-screen coverings for food were available for purchase as early as 1818. In 1857, an efficient power wire loom had been developed; one of the early uses was for kitchen sieves, which previously had been made from horsehair. The Gilbert and Bennett Manufacturing Co., a sieve factory in Georgetown, Connecticut, began mass producing window screens in the early 1860s. The earliest mass-produced screens were of coarsely-woven iron wire that had to be painted to prevent rusting. Instead of installing the expensive screens over the windows, some housekeepers continued to purchase screened food covers or pantry safes. After about 1870, wire screens improved in quality and dropped in price, thanks to advances in manufacturing technology. Hand painting gave way to machine painting and then to the use of galvanized iron or steel wire. Meshes became tighter. The cost of screening a window, which ranged in 1869 from $2.25 to $6, had dropped by 1914 to as little as $1.25. Those willing to make their own frames could buy the screening material for as little as two and a half cents a square foot in the early 1890s. The 1895 Sears catalog advertised small “self-adjusting window screens” for 25 cents each. Annual production of window screening rose from 5 million square feet in the early 1870s to 350 million square feet in the early 1910s. By that time, estimated one insect-control expert, Americans spent $10 million a year to screen their homes.[30]

Screens were popular for excluding flies from kitchens, but initially were ineffective against mosquitoes. Flies had been a terrible nuisance in nineteenth-century homes. Housekeepers had set out homemade fly poisons each summer and covered their pictures and mirrors to keep off fly specks. Flies covered any food left exposed in the kitchen, while dining rooms “swarmed and buzzed like a beehive,” in Stowe’s words. In homes with some pretension to elegance, a servant or child stood by the dining room table to shoo the flies during family meals.[31] Wire screens helped solve the fly problem in the late nineteenth century, but not the mosquito problem. An early catalog from one of the first manufacturers, the Clinton Wire-Cloth Co., offered no screen finer than a ten mesh (ten wires per inch in each direction), much coarser than modern window screens and unable to keep out a hungry mosquito. Well into the early twentieth century, much of the screening on American homes was a cheap but inadequate twelve mesh, through which mosquitoes such as the Aedes Aegypti can easily wriggle. Inexpensive half-screens (of the sort sold by Sears) also failed to protect homes against mosquitoes. Many homeowners continued to leave some windows completely unscreened.[32]

Window screening drew new attention as a result of the discovery that household insects could transmit disease. “The hum of the mosquito and the buzz of the house fly have become fraught with an entirely new significance,” observed one home economics writer in 1913. Houseflies were the first and foremost target, after Army researchers led by Walter Reed blamed flies for typhoid-fever cases among American troops in the Spanish-American War. Physicians and health officials in the early twentieth century strove to change the public image of the fly from an occasionally annoying but benign scavenger to a disgusting source of disease. “Typhoid flies,” as the entomologist L. O. Howard called them in a 1908 book, were said to bring the filth of contaminated privies inside the home, onto the dining room table, and into the very mouths of babies. In anti-fly campaigns, health departments offered prizes for the best-screened home and for the child who could swat the most flies.[33] Similarly, discoveries that mosquitoes carried malaria and yellow fever encouraged the installation of fine-meshed screens on bedroom windows in the Panama Canal Zone and the United States itself. Sales of window screens soared, noted a history compiled by the American Steel and Wire Company: “While, until comparatively recently, the use of screens was dictated by a desire for comfort, the exclusion of the housefly and mosquito is now demanded on hygienic grounds.” By 1930, screens were considered an essential part of the properly equipped home; a survey by researchers at Connecticut Agricultural College in that year found that rural housewives ranked window screens as even more important than central heat or electric light.[34]

Night Air in the Early Twentieth Century

IN THE CITY and in the countryside, efforts at fighting the housefly went beyond mere protection of the home. Health officials urged efforts to clean up the filthy environments in which flies bred. Meanwhile, L. O. Howard and other entomologists recommended fighting mosquitoes by draining marshy ground, and by spreading kerosene on the surface of ponds, cisterns, privies, water troughs, rain barrels, and any other standing water. Winchester, Virginia, was one of Howard’s early success stories: An anti-mosquito campaign there spurred so many townspeople to apply kerosene that “the town smelled like a Standard Oil tank.” Mosquito populations were greatly reduced, mosquito nets became less essential, and people could enjoy evenings out on their porches. Much bigger and more famous campaigns against mosquito breeding grounds succeeded in greatly reducing deaths from yellow fever and malaria during the American occupation of Cuba and the construction of the Panama Canal. Screening and habitat destruction gradually reduced the risks of malaria in the United States, though the disease was not fully suppressed until the introduction of DDT in the 1940s. Very few cases have been reported since 1950.[35]

These changes in medical knowledge and disease control meant that advice about the health or danger of night air in the twentieth century could rest on a more widely accepted scientific foundation. The dangerous elements of night air were now understood to be mosquitoes, not cold drafts or miasmas. The older devices to reduce the dangers of night air—the warm air tubes and draft deflectors—were recognized to be of little use. All that was needed was a good window screen or a mosquito-free neighborhood, and the sleeper could safely draw deep breaths of pure, outdoor air. “`Night air’ has been robbed of its terrors,” wrote one advocate of outdoor sleeping in 1909. “Drafts and dampness … are infinitely less dangerous than foul air and house dust.” Knowledge about stuffy indoor air was also changing. In the late nineteenth century, foul-smelling “miasmas” were recognized to be merely unpleasant, and the dangers of carbonic acid were found to be greatly exaggerated. Instead, as awareness of germs spread, concerns about stuffy air focused on communicable disease, particularly “consumption” or tuberculosis.[36]

Tuberculosis experts in the late nineteenth century had been among the most emphatic critics of the “night air superstition”; now, their recommendations were applied to everyone. Writers of health advice in the early twentieth century urged people to break down the unhealthy separation of germ-laden indoor air from clean outdoor air. As long as there were no mosquitoes in the area, or as long as adequate screens were in place, people were told to leave their windows wide open all night. Invalids fighting tuberculosis, and then some ordinary health-conscious Americans, sought even more complete exposure to night air. Sleeping porches were built onto the second floors of homes, and canvas insets in bedroom windows carried fresh breezes onto the faces of sleepers. “Leaving windows open was a radical change in habit,” the historian Katherine Ott has observed. It “was made possible only by the popularity of outdoor recreation and its premise that wild and flowing air was actually healing and bracing.”[37]

By the beginning of the twentieth century, indeed, Americans were coming to view wild nature with less suspicion than had their grandparents. The attack on overcivilization, according to the historian Roderick Nash, had reached the point where Americans were “ripe for the widespread appeal of the uncivilized. The cult had several facets. In the first place, there was a growing tendency to associate wilderness with America’s frontier and pioneer past that was believed responsible for many unique and desirable national characteristics. Wilderness also acquired importance as a source of virility, toughness, and savagery—qualities that defined fitness in Darwinian terms.” Growing numbers of affluent Americans sought a wilderness experience through a Yellowstone vacation, a summer cottage in the Adirondacks, a big-game hunting club, or the Boy Scouts. Thorough immersion in night air—even the air of cities—was said to bring the same invigorating benefits as a wilderness vacation. “Future generations will in all probability sleep more in the open air,” predicted one writer in 1909. “Houses will be built with the idea of making outdoor life possible at least at night, if not in the daytime.”[38]

Rural people were slower to shed their fear of night air—not surprisingly, given the longer persistence of malaria in the countryside. “Superstitions last longer in the more conservative country districts, and adequate night ventilation is not common,” declared the author of a public-health textbook in 1918. “Recently two guests visiting a country relative near New York City found themselves consigned to a bedroom in which all the windows were nailed shut.” Such practices were now thoroughly discredited. Health advisers marveled that hayseeds could be so ignorant. Elsewhere, the gospel of fresh air seems to have triumphed. Though only a minority of Americans ever subjected themselves to the rigors of outdoor sleeping, many more accepted the basic premise. “With every passing year we Americans appreciate more keenly that fresh air means health, and the absence of it disease,” wrote the household advice writer Virginia Terhune Van De Water in 1910. “In thinking over the old times, when people slept in feather-beds, with closed windows, and, sometimes, a stove burning in the room, we wonder that our grandparents did not die of asphyxiation.”[39]


ACCEPTANCE OF night air had grown slowly and unsteadily through the nineteenth century. It was pushed forward by discomfort in stuffy homes, by fear of carbonic acid, by fear of contamination by other human bodies, and by desire for contact with nature—yet held back by folk knowledge about the danger of malaria. Cautious, yet still struggling to understand the hazards of night air, ventilation experts and health advisers recommended ineffective methods of filtered ventilation. Once medical research had identified the hazards of mosquitoes and tacitly acknowledged the errors of earlier ventilation advice, Americans felt able to safely inhale night air in heroic doses. The early-twentieth-century cult of the wilderness further boosted the popularity of night air among the health-conscious.

New medical knowledge, mosquito eradication, and window screens transformed the sleeping experience for only a generation or two. In the latter half of the twentieth century, Americans would alter their relationship with night air once again, thanks to the spread of residential air-conditioning. By the early twenty-first century, when over 80 percent of American households are at least partially air-conditioned, bedroom windows on hot nights are as tightly shut as those of George Templeton Strong during that 1843 heat wave.[40] Unlike Strong, though, Americans no longer face agonizing conflicts between comfort and health. By sealing out the breezes, summer and winter, they secure for themselves both a constant, pleasant temperature and a feeling of safety from pollen and outdoor dust—and perhaps a sense of protection from the increasingly distrusted world outside.

The resurgence of the hermetically sealed home has taken place within a different system of knowledge about the body and nature. Such a radical separation of indoor and outdoor environments—technologically impossible even in the most “airtight” homes of the nineteenth century—both reflects and strengthens a modern belief in firm boundaries between the human and the natural. In contrast, as Conevery Bolton Valencius has argued in a recent study of western settlement, nineteenth-century Americans believed the functioning of the body “to be linked in intricate and intimate ways with the similar balances of the surrounding world,” with its soil, vegetation, water, and air.[41] Such beliefs, as we have seen, shaped both the attempt to create a “middle landscape” of tamed indoor air and its critique by ventilation advocates. The interpenetration of wild nature and human culture was experienced not just in spectacular instances like the clear-cutting of forests, but in the most ephemeral detail of domestic life: a breath of wind from an open window.

Peter C. Baldwin is an assistant professor of history at the University of Connecticut. He is working on a book about the social history of night in American cities. His first book, Domesticating the Street: The Reform of Public Space in Hartford, 1850–1930 (Ohio State University Press, 1999) won the Urban History Association’s 2000 prize for Best Book in North American Urban History.


1.� John Adams, Diary and Autobiography of John Adams, vol. 3, ed. L. H. Butterfield (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, Belknap Press, 1962), 418. I am grateful to my colleague Richard Brown for providing me with this anecdote.

2.� Christopher Sellers, “Thoreau’s Body: Towards an Embodied Environmental History,” Environmental History 4 (1999): 486–514, at 504.

3.� Daniel Drake, A Systematic Treatise, Historical, Etiological, and Practical, on the Principal Diseases of the Interior Valley of North America, as they Appear in the Caucasian, African, Indian, and Esquimaux Varieties of its Population (1850), reprinted in Malaria in the Interior Valley of North America, ed. Norman D. Levine (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1964), 681.

4.� Gordon Harrison, Mosquitoes, Malaria and Man: A History of the Hostilities Since 1880 (New York: E.P. Dutton, 1978), 24–27; George Wilson, A Handbook of Hygiene and Sanitary Science (London: J.A. Churchill, 1892), 110–111; Nancy Tomes, The Gospel of Germs: Men, Women, and the Microbe in American Life (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1998), 27; “Strengthen the Defenses!” Philadelphia Inquirer, 16 July 1868, 5; Catharine Beecher, A Treatise on Domestic Economy (1841; reprint, New York: Source Book Press, 1970), 108. For more on miasmas, see Conevery Bolton Valencius, The Health of the Country: How American Settlers Understood Themselves and Their Land (New York: Basic Books, 2002), 109–32.

5.� “Air and Ventilation,” Godey’s Lady’s Book and Magazine 65 (October 1862), 331–34; John Bullock, The American Cottage Builder (New York: Stringer & Townsend, 1854), 64–65; John Duffy, A History of Public Health in New York City, 1866–1966 (New York: Russell Sage Foundation, 1974), 226; Fredrika Bremer, The Homes of the New World; Impressions of America, vol. 1, trans. Mary Howitt (1853; reprint, New York: Negro Universities Press, 1968), 591; G. C. Foster, Celio: Or, New York Above Ground and Under Ground (New York: Dewitt & Davenport, 1850), 8; The Diary of George Templeton Strong: Young Man in New York, 1835–1849, ed. Allan Nevins and Milton Halsey Thomas (New York: Macmillan, 1952), 205; H. I. Bowditch, “Consumption in America,” part 2, Atlantic Monthly 23 (March 1869), 319.

6.� William Cronon, Changes in the Land: Indians, Colonists, and the Ecology of New England (New York: Hill & Wang, 1983), 120; Lewis F. Allen, Rural Architecture: Being a Complete Description of Farm Houses, Cottages, and Out Buildings (New York: C. M. Saxton, 1852), 57; David R. Foster, Thoreau’s Country: Journey Through a Transformed Landscape (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1999), 99–104; Bremer, Homes of the New World, 66, 111; Harriet Beecher Stowe, “House and Home Papers,” in Household Papers and Stories (1865–67; reprint Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1896), 194.

7.� Richard L. Bushman, The Refinement of America: Persons, Houses, Cities (New York: Random House, Vintage Books, 1993), 123–24; Susan Strasser, Never Done: A History of American Housework (New York: Pantheon, 1982), 53; H. Hudson Holly, Modern Dwellings in Town and Country, Adapted to American Wants and Climate (New York: Harper & Brothers, 1878), 95–96; George E. Woodward, Woodward’s Suburban and Country Houses (New York: George E. Woodward, 1873), 68; Stowe, “House and Home Papers,” 193; W. W. Hall, Health at Home, or Hall’s Family Doctor (Hartford: S.M. Betts, 1873), 420; Bremer, Homes of the New World, 230, 645; Marsha E. Ackermann, Cool Comfort: America’s Romance with Air-Conditioning (Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Institution Press, 2002), 12.

8.� Allen, Rural Architecture, 57.

9.� “The American People Starved and Poisoned,” Harper’s New Monthly Magazine 32 (May 1866), 762–72; W. F. Butler, Ventilation of Buildings (New York: D. Van Nostrand, 1873); Holly, Modern Dwellings, 94–97; Henry Hartshorne, Our Homes (Philadelphia: Presley Blakiston, 1880), 64–73; Gavin Townsend, “Airborne Toxins and the American House, 1865–1895,” Winterthur Portfolio 24 (Spring 1989), 29–42.

10.� John H. Griscom, The Uses and Abuses of Air: Showings its Influence in Sustaining Life and Producing Disease; with Remarks on the Ventilation of Houses (1850; reprint, New York: Arno Press and the New York Times, 1970); Sanitary Commission of Massachusetts [Lemuel Shattuck], Report of a General Plan for the Promotion of Public and Personal Health (Boston: Dutton & Wentworth, 1850), reprinted in Report of the Sanitary Commission of Massachusetts, 1850 (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1948), 145–46, 215; Woodward, Woodward’s Suburban and Country Houses, 66–68; “Air and Ventilation,” 331–32; Sereno Edwards Todd, Todd’s Country Homes and How to Save Money (Hartford, Conn.: Hartford Publishing Co., 1870), 266, 270; Catharine E. Beecher and Harriet Beecher Stowe, The American Woman’s Home, or, Principles of Domestic Science (1869; reprint, Hartford, Conn.: Stowe-Day Foundation, 1975), 57; Hartshorne, Our Homes, 51–53, at 51; Townsend, “Airborne Toxins,” 29; Allen, Rural Architecture, 58.

11.� Clifford Edwards Clark, The American Family Home, 1800–1960 (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1986), 29; Kenneth T. Jackson, Crabgrass Frontier: The Suburbanization of the United States (New York: Oxford University Press, 1985), 47–72; Stuart M. Blumin, The Emergence of the Middle Class: Social Experience in the American City, 1760–1900 (Cambridge, New York: Cambridge University Press, 1999), 163–79; Suellen Hoy, Chasing Dirt: The American Pursuit of Cleanliness (New York: Oxford University Press, 1995), 7.

12.� John H. Griscom, The Sanitary Condition of the Laboring Population of New York (1845; reprint, New York: Arno Press and the New York Times, 1970), 2–3, 5; Sanitary Commission of Massachusetts, Report, 154–57, 266–72; Report of the Council of Hygiene and Public Health of the Citizens’ Association of New York upon the Sanitary Condition of the City, 2nd ed. (New York: D. Appleton & Co., 1866), lxvi, xci, 65, 221; Foster, Celio, 67. See also Susan Craddock, City of Plagues: Disease, Poverty, and Deviance in San Francisco (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2000), 80.

13.� Todd, Todd’s Country Homes, 264, 269.

14.� David P. Handlin, The American Home: Architecture and Society, 1815–1915 (Boston: Little, Brown & Co., 1979), 452–71; Craddock, City of Plagues, 99; Tomes, Gospel of Germs, 63; George E. Waring, Jr., The Sanitary Condition of City and Country Dwelling Houses (New York: D. Van Nostrand, 1877), 30–33, at 31; Julia McNair Wright, The Complete Home: An Encyclopedia of Domestic Life and Affairs (Philadelphia: J.C. McCurdy & Co., 1879), 124, 126; Stowe, “House and Home Papers,” 195.

15.� Tomes, Gospel of Germs, 63–64; Robert Tomes quotation from page 64.

16.� Jackson, Crabgrass Frontier, 54–58, 76–81; John R. Stilgoe, Borderland: Origins of the American Suburb, 1820–1939 (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 1988), 27–37; Thomas Bender, Toward an Urban Vision: Ideas and Institutions in Nineteenth Century America (Baltimore, Md.: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1975), 162–63, 172–73; Clark, American Family Home, 38.

17.� Stowe, “House and Home Papers,” 28, 196.

18.� Beecher and Stowe, American Woman’s Home, 56; Florence Nightingale, Notes on Nursing: What it is, and What it is Not (London: Harrison, 1859), 12.

19.� Todd, Todd’s Country Homes, 265–70, at 269. On fear of damp air, see Beecher and Stowe, American Woman’s Home, 56; and B. W. Richardson, “Health at Home,” Appleton’s Magazine 8 (April 1880), 315.

20.� Bryan D. Palmer, Cultures of Darkness: Night Travels in the Histories of Transgression (New York: Monthly Review Press, 2000); James Hervey, Contemplations on the Night (New York: James Rivington, 1774), 24.

21.� Roderick Nash, Wilderness and the American Mind, 3rd ed. (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 1982), 84; H. D. Thoreau, “Night and Moonlight,” Atlantic Monthly 12 (November 1863), 579.

22.� Nash, Wilderness and the American Mind, 95; “Night Air,” American Gas-Light Journal and Chemical Repository 11 (2 November 1869), 133. Coal smoke caused serious pollution problems in American cities after about 1880; R. Dale Grinder, “The Battle for Clean Air: The Smoke Problem in Post-Civil War America,” in Pollution and Reform in American Cities, ed. Martin V. Melosi (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1980), 84.

23.� On siting of homes, see, for example, Charles P. Dwyer, The Economic Cottage Builder: Or, Cottages for Men of Small Means (Buffalo: Wanzer, McKim & Co., 1856), 11. On dangers of drafts, Butler, Ventilation of Buildings, 73; “The American People Starved and Poisoned,” 764–65; “House Ventilation,” Popular Science Monthly 7 (1875), 596–606; Townsend, “Airborne Toxins,” 32. Woodward, Woodward’s Suburban and Country Houses, 69. On warming outside air, Holly, Modern Dwellings, 96; Stowe, “House and Home Papers,”195. On sash method, Almon C. Varney, Our Homes and their Adornments (Detroit: J.C. Chilton, 1882), 95–96; E. H. Leland, Farm Homes : In-Doors and Out-Doors ((New York: Orange Judd Co., 1881), 27. On dangers of excessive bed curtains, Griscom, Uses and Abuses of Air, 166. On advantages of curtains, netting and screens, Richardson, “Health at Home,” 315; “Sleeping Rooms,” Godey’s Lady’s Book and Magazine 68 (May 1864), 490; Butler, Ventilation of Buildings, 29–30.

24.� John H. Ellis, Yellow Fever and Public Health in the New South (Lexington: University Press of Kentucky, 1992), 30–59; Margaret Humphreys, Yellow Fever and the South (New Brunswick, N.J.: Rutgers University Press, 1992), 5; Duffy, A History of Public Health in New York City, 101, 120, 163–64; Drake, A Systematic Treatise, 710; “Map Showing the Proportion of Deaths from Malarial Diseases to Deaths from all Causes,” in Statistical Atlas of the United States Based on the Results of the Ninth Census, 1870, available on–line: [12 September 2002]; Margaret Humphreys, Malaria: Poverty, Race, and Public Health in the United States (Baltimore, Md.: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2001); J. F. Alleyne Adams, Malaria in New England (Cambridge, Mass.: Riverside Press, 1882).

25.� William Brodbeck Herms and Harold Farnsworth Gray, Mosquito Control: Practical Methods for Abatement of Disease Vectors and Pests (New York: Commonwealth Fund, 1940), 246, 253; Humphreys, Yellow Fever and the South, 5. Joy J. Jackson, New Orleans in the Gilded Age: Politics and Urban Progress, 1880–1896 (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press and the Louisiana Historical Association, 1969), 154. Joel A. Tarr, James McCurley and Terry F. Yosie, “Development and Impact of Urban Wastewater Technology: Changing Concepts of Water Quality Control, 1850–1930,” in Pollution and Reform in American Cities, ed. Melosi, 61–63.

26.� A. N. Clements, The Biology of Mosquitoes. Vol. II: Sensory Reception and Behaviour (London: Chapman & Hall, 1992), 226–27; William R. Horsfall, Mosquitoes: Their Bionomics and Relation to Disease (New York: Ronald Press, 1955), 51, 491; S. Rickard Christophers, Aëdes Aegypti (L.): The Yellow Fever Mosquito (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1960), 530; P. F. Mattingly, The Biology of Mosquito-Borne Disease (London: George Allen and Unwin, 1969), 112.

27.� Humphreys, Yellow Fever and the South, 35; J. N. Hays, The Burdens of Disease: Epidemics and the Human Response in Western History (New Brunswick, N.J.: Rutgers University Press, 1998), 207.

28.� Benjamin Henry Boneral Latrobe, Impressions Respecting New Orleans: Diary and Sketches, 1818–1820 (New York: Columbia University Press, 1951), 141–42; Strong, Diary, 148, 212, 329, 360.

29.� “To Clear a Room of Mosquitoes,” American Gas-Light Journal & Chemical Repertory 11 (2 July 1869), 8; M. W. Ellsworth, ed., The Successful Housekeeper: A Manual of Universal Application, Especially Adapted to the Every Day Wants of American Housewives (Detroit: M.W. Ellsworth & Co, 1882), 361; Laura Ingalls Wilder, Little House on the Prairie (1935; reprint, New York: Harper & Row, 1971), 184; Humphreys, Yellow Fever and the South, 151; Virginia Terhune Van De Water, From Kitchen to Garret (1910; New York: Sturgis & Walton, 1912), 108–9; Beecher and Stowe, American Woman’s Home, 377; “Summer Conveniences,” Harper’s Bazar 2 (21 August 1869), 531; Strong, Diary, 363; Latrobe, Impressions, 143–44.

30.� Russell Lynes, The Domesticated Americans (New York: Harper & Row, 1957), 130–31; American Steel & Wire Co., “History of the Manufacture of Poultry Netting and Meshed Fabric,” (typescript, 1913), American Steel & Wire collection, Historical Collections, Baker Library, Harvard Business School; Gilbert & Bennett Manufacturing Co., One Hundred Years of Progress (Georgetown, Conn.: Gilbert & Bennett Manufacturing Co., 1918); “Summer Conveniences”; Agnes Bailey Ormsbee, The House Comfortable (New York: Harper & Brothers, 1892), 18; Sears, Roebuck and Co.: Cheapest Supply House on Earth [1895 catalog], 309; Frank Chouteau Brown, “The Cost of Building,” in The House: Its Plan, Decoration, and Care, ed. Isabel Bevier (Chicago: American School of Home Economics, 1919), 205; L. O. Howard, The House Fly: Disease Carrier (New York: Frederick A. Stokes, 1911), 177. See also Humphreys, Malaria, 56.

31.�The Home Guide: A Compendium of Useful Information Pertaining to Every Branch of Domestic and Social Economy (Chicago: J. Fairbanks & Co., 1878), 454; Ormsbee, The House Comfortable, 40–41, 49; Lynes, Domesticated Americans, 129–30; Hoy, Chasing Dirt, 15; Sarah Orne Jewett, A Marsh Island (Boston: Houghton, Mifflin & Co., 1885), 235; Stowe, “House and Home Papers,” 199; Bremer, Homes of the New World, 280–81.

32.�Catalogue of Goods of Which the Clinton Wire-Cloth Company are the Sole Proprietors and Manufacturers (Clinton, Mass.: Clinton Wire-Cloth Company, n.d. [1859?]); Victor M. Ehlers and Ernest W. Steel, Municipal and Rural Sanitation, 3rd ed. (New York: McGraw-Hill, 1943), 146–47, 169–70; “Quarantining the Home against the Diseases of Summer,” World’s Work 20 (May 1910), 12889–91.

33.� Quotation in Tomes, Gospel of Germs, 145; Naomi Rogers, “Germs with Legs: Flies, Disease, and the New Public Health,” Bulletin of the History of Medicine 63 (Winter 1989): 599–617.

34.� L. O. Howard, Mosquitoes: How They Live; How They Carry Disease; How They Are Classified; How They May Be Destroyed (New York: McClure, Phillips & Co., 1901), 57, 123–25, 211–12; Mosquitos or Culicidae of New York State, New York State Museum Bulletin 79 (Albany: New York State Education Department, 1904), 259; “Quarantining the Home,” 12889–91; A. J. Orenstein, “Screening as an Anti-Malaria Measure,” Scientific American Supplement 74 (14 September 1912), 173–74; “History of the Manufacture of Poultry Netting and Wire Cloth”; Carroll D. Clark, “Evaluating Certain Equipment of the Modern Rural Home,” Journal of Home Economics 22 (December 1930), 1005–15.

35.� Rogers, “Germs with Legs,” 614–15; Howard, Mosquitoes, 170–77, 180–81; N. T. Barton, “How a Southern City Abolished Mosquitoes,” The Independent 53 (18 July 1901), 1660–61; Hays, Burdens of Disease, 208; Humphreys, Yellow Fever and the South, 150–78; “Quarantining the Home,” 12890; Harrison, Mosquitoes, Malaria and Man, 161–68, 218–19; William H. McNeil, Plagues and Peoples (New York: Anchor Books, 1977), 284–86; Stanley C. Oaks Jr., Violaine S. Mitchell, Greg W. Pearson and Charles C. J. Carpenter, eds., Malaria: Obstacles and Opportunities (Washington, D.C.: National Academy Press, 1991), 3.

36.� C. M. D’Enville, “Sleeping Outdoors for Health,” Country Life in America 16 (May 1909), 43; D. F. Lincoln, “The Atmosphere,” in A Treatise on Hygiene and Public Health, vol. 1, ed. Albert H. Buck (New York: William Wood & Co., 1879), 601.

37.� Felix L. Oswald, “The Remedies of Nature,” Popular Science Monthly 23 (May 1883), 6; Thomas McAdam, “Outdoor Sleeping and Living,” Country Life in America 13 (January 1908), 334, 338; D’Enville, “Sleeping Outdoors for Health,” 43–46, 82, 84, 90; Irving Fisher and Eugene Lyman Fisk, How to Live: Rules for Healthful Living Based on Modern Science (New York: Funk & Wagnalls, 1927), 31; Handlin, The American Home, 350; Katherine Ott, Fevered Lives: Tuberculosis in American Culture since 1870 (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1996), 96.

38.� Anita Clair Fellman and Michael Fellman, Making Sense of Self: Medical Advice Literature in Late Nineteenth-Century America (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1981), 29; Nash, Wilderness and the American Mind, 145, 147–55; Cindy S. Aron, Working at Play: A History of Vacations in the United States (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1999), 156–77; Ott, Fevered Lives, 92; D’Enville, “Sleeping Outdoors for Health,” 45, 82.

39.� Van De Water, From Kitchen to Garret, 90; Jean Broadhurst, Home and Community Hygiene: A Text-Book of Personal and Public Health (Philadelphia: J.B. Lippincott, 1918), 351, 233; J. S. Kingston, Our Homes: How to Make them Healthy for Breathing and Living in (Ottawa: J.S. Kingston, 1922), 65; Ott, Fevered Lives, 89.

40.� Ackermann, Cool Comfort, 6.

41.� Valencius, The Health of the Country, 2–3.




By Peter C. Baldwin



Are you passionate about history?

Share that passion with the world. Join us: Contribute to History Cooperative