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View Diary: History for Kossacks: American Women's History 1820-1860 (Special Guest Edition) (70 comments)

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  •  I can tell you a little about tea and coffee (0+ / 0-)

    Tea was widespread by the mid 18th century in the English-speaking world, and relatively inexpensive. Coffee was not easily made at home for most people until much later; you had to drink it at a coffeehouse. Chocolate was also a popular hot drink in the West. A sort of "beer soup" was a popular european breakfast through the mid 18th century (I got all that from Wolfgang Schivelbusch's _Tastes of Paradise; fun little history of booze, drugs, caffeine, etc.)

    The question about germs and public water is a good one.  It's my understanding that clean public water did not become common in the U.S. until the early 20th century. Germ "theory" was not universally accepted until well after the Civil War: the work of John Snow was key in establishing the link between dirty water and disease. I do not know (but now I am curious) how much the late 19th century temperance movement was influential in getting clean water more widely available (those were the Carrie Nation folks; comeplete and total abstainers form alcohol.)

    So I'm cautious in applying germ theory to the work of temperence advocates; people certainly could tell when water or other beverages tasted "bad" but would not have linked this necessarily to the spread of disease.

    I think I've answered nothing, but hope that helped!

    "He that knew all that learning ever writ/Knew only this - that he knew nothing yet"

    by aphra behn on Sun Sep 24, 2006 at 08:20:54 PM PDT

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