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This article is from the Encyclopedia of North Carolina edited by William S. Powell. Copyright © 2006 by the University of North Carolina Press. Used by permission of the publisher. For personal use and not for further distribution. Please submit permission requests for other use directly to the publisher.

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Bathing, for most North Carolinians until the twentieth century, was an irregular practice often regarded as unhealthy. William Byrd's "secret history" of the surveying of the dividing line between North Carolina and Virginia in 1727 noted that one of the commissioners, Col. Harvey Harrison, "refreshes himself every morning" in a cold bath. It was in a building "about 5 Feet Square, & as many deep, thro which a pure Stream continually passes, & is covered with a little House just big enough for the Bath & a Firing Room." The other eight members of the survey party took turns bathing but seemed more interested in the rum they had afterward and the carpet they walked on going to bed than in the novel experience of a cold bath.

At the Moravian Boys' School in 1823 it was noted that the youth bathed twice a week-on Wednesday and Saturday.

Additional Resources:

Moravian Boys' School (p. 42), NC Historyland: