Portable Bathtubs: Tub Bathing from the Early 19th and 20th Centuries
Bathing, from the early 19th to the early 20th centuries, required stamina and fortitude. Without indoor plumbing, bathing involved filling small portable tubs with water, bucket by bucket. This, as well as different attitudes about cleanliness, meant that few people fully immersed themselves in water.
"Portable Bathtubs: Tub Bathing from the Early 19th and 20th Centuries - Introduction" showing 1 items.
- The tub takes its name from its form in the shape of a hat. The patient sat either on the bath’s ledge or on a chair outside the tub with his or her feet and legs in the center of the basin. The Dover Stamping Company, a tinware firm in Boston, Massachusetts, listed this form as such in their 1869 catalog. The spout for emptying the bath water is beneath the ledge.
- We know of Nathaniel Waterman, the tub’s maker, through his membership in the Massachusetts Charitable Mechanics Association and his listings in the Boston City Directories at 85 Cornhill Street from 1842 to 1846. He learned the tinsmith trade at a young age and his firm, the Waterman Kitchen and House Furnishing Wareroom, existed in Boston for over forty years. According to accounts, his store was a “veritable museum of all conceivable household necessities and conveniences.”*
- For more information on bathing and bathtubs in the 19th and early 20th centuries, please see the introduction to this online exhibition.
- *Massachusetts Charitable Mechanic Association. Annals of the Massachusetts Charitable Mechanic Association, 1795–1892. (Boston: Press of Rockwell and Churchill, 1892): p. 100.
- Currently not on view
- date made
- 1840 - 1846
- Waterman, Nathaniel
- ID Number
- catalog number
- accession number
- Data Source
- National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center