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Historians Young and Old (some with rabbits)

Marcia Mayo

History Just for Kids is a place to share ideas for helping children understand that history is about real people in real places and it not only happened in the past, it's also happening right now. If you have a site you love or an idea you'd like to share, let me know and I'll include it.

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Monday, August 27, 2012

Answer to History Mystery # 2: Bathing Machines!


The bathing machine, or van, was a necessary component of sea-side etiquette in the 19th century. Bathing machines were most common at the sea-side resorts of Great Britain but were also used at beaches in the United States, France and Germany. The use of this device was more strictly enforced for women who had to endure a variety of discomforts which far outweighed any possible compensation of a day at the sea.  The men had the best of it; they were allowed to bathe in drawers, and could plunge off one of the small boats that often patrolled along the front of the beach. Meanwhile, the vans and bathing-places for women were set far apart from those reserved for men, to guarantee that the modest woman in her bathing costume would not be seen by the opposite sex.  Nevertheless, they often were still open to the gaze of spectators on the beach, who were usually not fenced off from the female bathers.

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