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By Martha H. Verbrugge

As city existence and women's roles replaced within the nineteenth century, so did attitudes in the direction of actual well-being and womanhood. as a consequence research of overall healthiness reform in Boston among 1830 and 1900, Martha H. Verbrugge examines 3 associations that popularized body structure and workout between middle-class girls: the women' Physiological Institute, Wellesley university, and the Boston basic tuition of Gymnastics. opposed to the backdrop of a countrywide debate approximately woman tasks and health and wellbeing, this publication follows middle-class ladies as they realized approximately health and wellbeing and explored the connection among health and femininity. Combining scientific and social background, Verbrugge seems to be on the traditional girls who participated in health and wellbeing reform and analyzes the conflicting messages--both feminist and conservative--projected by way of the idea that of "able-bodied womanhood."

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

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Thomson believed that nature provided the most trustworthy cures and that ordinary citizens had the right (even necessity) to be their own doctors. During the 1820s and 1830s, Thomsonianism became a commercial success as agents sold "Family Rights" and manuals for the practice, especially in rural areas. When botanic medicine began to fade, two other sects, homeopathy and hydropathy, gained favor. Imported from Germany during the 1820s, homeopathy was based on two beliefs: the law of similars and the law of infinitesimals.

The day of the independent artisan was near an end, and the number of small shopkeepers and managers barely grew after 1830. By midcentury, large-scale businessmen monopolized power and wealth in Boston, and unskilled and skilled laborers prevailed in absolute number. Measured in terms of either property holdings or occupational mobility, "success" for middle-class men was uncertain and often fleeting. As was true in cities throughout the Northeast, changes in domestic life complemented those of the workplace in Boston.

The pay-off was psychological as well as practical. The rules of health were scientific guideposts toward security and virtue in an era of uncertainty. Personal health had symbolic meaning as well. Economic and domestic change placed new demands on middle-class Bostonians; old patterns of life and norms of conduct eroded in the process. As external events came to seem confusing and unmanageable, middleclass Bostonians turned inward; they focused on the one parameter of life that was still amenable to control.

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