- Bathing, whether for cleanliness or health, was not a common practice in Colonial America, or even Great Britain, and only became so over time. This bath thermometer indicates this changing practice. It was probably owned by John William Draper (1811-1882), an American scientist with wide-ranging interests and accomplishments and who kept in touch with friends and colleagues abroad.
- This simple mercury-in-glass thermometer was designed for determining when bath water is at a healthy temperture. The scale extends from 0 to 130 degrees, and is marked "Dr. FORBES SPECIFICATIONS" as well as "FREEZING"; "COLD BATH"; "COOL"; "TEM."; "TEPID"; "WARM"; and "HOT." The reference is to John Forbes, a Scottish physician who recommended therapeutic bathing.
- Ref. Richard Bushmann and Claudia Bushmann, “The Early History of Cleanliness in America,” Journal of American History 74 (1988): 1213-1238.
- John Forbes, et. al., The Cyclopaedia of Practical Medicine (London, 1833), vol. 1, p. 260.
- Currently not on view
- Object Name
- date made
- early 19th century
- overall: 6 3/4 in; 17.145 cm
- overall: 10 in x 1 1/8 in x 1 in; 25.4 cm x 2.8575 cm x 2.54 cm
- ID Number
- catalog number
- accession number
- Credit Line
- John William Christopher Draper and James Christopher Draper
- See more items in
- Medicine and Science: Physical Sciences
- Measuring & Mapping
- Health & Medicine
- Thermometers and Hygrometers
- Data Source
- National Museum of American History
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