What “washing up” means: A history of practices and experiences

Working-class practices
Pithead baths in Belgium (1911-1950)
By Sophie Richelle

Throughout the twentieth century, hygienic standards of full-body bathing spread throughout society, but private bathrooms remained lastingly reserved for the wealthy. With the lack of available infrastructures, public baths were a collective response to these new needs. Among them, pithead baths – the subject of this article – offer an outstanding case study. In a social history of coal mines which is still to be written, pithead baths provide a new vantage point for observing how our relationship with our bodies, with hygiene and cleanliness is built, as well as the social and gender divides in working class societies undergoing transformation in the twentieth century.

Go to the article on Cairn-int.info