1849 - 1860 Sitz Bath

The hip bathtub is similar to the sitz bath and the terms are often used interchangeably. In 1859 Bell notes that the “ . . . hip bath has of late acquired vogue, as part of the water cure, and by some superficial readers, it is looked upon as a novelty.”* Bell may be suggesting that people are now actually enjoying the amenities of the bath, rather than viewing it as merely healthful.
Warm or tepid hip baths were encouraged for the elderly. Their skin was protected from the heat of the tin by “linen damask, thick bird’s eye diaper, or white huckaback” towels that lined the interior of the tub. In her 1845 Manual on Domestic Economy, Eliza Leslie frowned on cotton towels, which “are not used by persons of genteel habits.”** Bathing experts recommended vigorous toweling after the bath to promote blood circulation and to remove dry skin.
Though this tub is a cream color, many tinware catalogs advertised hip baths in brown or green with a marbled interior.
For more information on bathing and bathtubs in the 19th and early 20th centuries, please see the introduction to this online exhibition.
*John Bell, A Treatise on Baths, (Philadelphia: Lindsay and Blakiston, 1859): 207.
**Eliza Leslie, The House Book; or, A Manual of Domestic Economy. For Town and Country, (Philadelphia: Carey & Hart, 1845), 302.
Currently not on view
Object Name
tub, bath
date made
1840 - 1860
Physical Description
tin (overall material)
iron (overall material)
paint (overall material)
overall: 28 5/8 in x 29 3/8 in x 24 in; 72.7075 cm x 74.6125 cm x 60.96 cm
overall: 28 in x 29 in x 28 1/4 in; 71.12 cm x 73.66 cm x 71.755 cm
place made
ID Number
catalog number
accession number
Family & Social Life
Domestic Furnishings
Portable Bathtubs
See more items in
Home and Community Life: Domestic Life
Data Source
National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center
Credit Line
Gift of Kenneth E. Jewett
Additional Media

Visitor Comments

Add a comment about this object

**Please read before submitting the form**

Have a comment or question about this object to share with the community? Please use the form below. Approved comments will appear on this page and may receive a museum response (but we can't promise). Please note that we generally cannot answer questions about your own artifacts or comment on their value, rarity, or collectibility.

Have a question about anything else, or would you prefer a personal response? Please visit our FAQ or contact page.

Personal information will not be shared or result in unsolicited e-mail. See our privacy policy.

Enter the characters shown in the image.