How often did people bathe in the eighteenth century? How frequently did they change and wash their clothes? How did childbirth differ from today? These are just some of the intimate questions that visitors have asked throughout the years on their tours at Pottsgrove Manor. These questions — plus many more — have now been answered in a fascinating new exhibit at the site. “Matters Personal, Details Private: Cleanliness, Hygiene, and Personal Pursuits in the Colonial Home,”sheds light on aspects of colonial life that were not covered in the average history textbook! This exhibit explores how home life, personal effects, health, and hygiene intersected with the sensibilities, emotions, and desires of colonial Americans.
Visitors will get a glimpse of the private lives of a family like the Potts’ in colonial America, learning about the intimate personal life details of both the wealthy Potts’ and their servants. Some topics dealt with on the tour include how they viewed cleanliness, how they cared for their teeth, how they washed their clothes, and even how they dealt with household pests. One room in the exhibit features mature personal subjects that visitors may have wondered about, but perhaps felt uncomfortable asking their guide – the real “intimate” details of 18th century life, from family planning to spousal abuse.
The exhibit, “Matters Personal, Details Private,” can be viewed on a guided tour of Pottsgrove Manor during regular museum hours, now through November 4th. Regular museum hours are Tuesday to Saturday, 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. and Sunday, 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. Tours are given on the hour; the last tour of the day begins at 3:00 p.m. Groups of 10 or more should pre-register by calling 610-326-4014.
Pottsgrove Manor, home of John Potts, colonial ironmaster and founder of Pottstown, is located at 100 West King Street near the intersection of King Street and Route 100, just off Route 422, in Pottstown, Pennsylvania.