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Author Topic: Dancing laundry?  (Read 2149 times)
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Miss Emma
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« on: December 26, 2016, 03:31:16 PM »

So I'm considering a laundry demonstration sometime(s) this summer. I remember reading the Little House books as a girl, and Martha helped the maidservants so the laundry by 'dancing' the clothes. This involved getting your washtub all set up as usual, with the clothes all immersed in hot soapy water. One woman would then tuck up her skirts, climb into the tub, and stomp on the clothes to agitate out the dirt. The other women would be working their own clothes, or singing to keep time for the others while they waited their turn.
Ultimately, my question is, would I be able to get away with this? My persona is the daughter of a Scottish immigrant, and the tiny bit of information I can find says that Scottish women continued to wash their clothes in this way up through the 19th century. Certainly it is a practical way to wash them, and doesn't require the use of a washboard. I've used it myself when my washing machine at home was broken.
But would it be too immodest for a young lady to kilt up her skirts and splash around like that? It would be the way her mother taught her to launder, it means she doesn't have to buy an extra piece of equipment, and I don't intend to display myself on the village green as I do it.
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Elizabeth
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« Reply #1 on: December 30, 2016, 02:58:32 PM »

Until you have multiple source notes from the mid-19th century, I'd not do it that way.

Head to www.raggedsoldier.com and get Virginia Mescher's work on Laundry.

It's very important to remember that the original Little House books are *highly* fictionalized, and post-65; the newer "prequel" books are only slightly researched, and should be not be any kind of cue for mid-century impressions, aside from spurring a research project to see what was common, everyday, and practical for actual people in history in your region and time window.

It's also important to note that while laundry equipment is spendy for us now, it was dirt-cheap and bog-common for people then, so using atypical methods gives the wrong notions about history; even people living rough on the western trails used scrubbing boards, or just self-fabric abrasion in a creek, versus filling a tub and stomping. Cheesy

While you amass more specific research, just refrain and save up for the needed equipment.
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Regards,
Elizabeth
Miss Emma
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« Reply #2 on: January 02, 2017, 08:11:13 AM »

Alright, thanks! I'll keep the dancing for when my home washer breaks, and find a decent washboard.
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