Advertisement

Historical Archaeology

, Volume 34, Issue 1, pp 39–61 | Cite as

Out of sight, out of mind: Privy architecture and the perception of sanitation

  • M. Jay Stottman
Article

Abstract

This study examines privy vault architecture, an often underutilized piece of archaeological evidence, to provide another line of evidence for understanding perceptions of sanitation in mid 19th to early 20th-century Louisville, Kentucky. Specific architectural attributes of privy vaults are analyzed in relation to ordinances that regulated the construction of these features. The vault depth, materials used in construction, method of construction, and their proximity to water sources are analyzed. This analysis reveals that misguided sanitary perceptions affected the ordinances pertaining to sanitary issues and the compliance of the ordinances by the public, which were manifested in the way privy vaults were constructed. The intention of this research is to demonstrate the utility of privy vault architecture as archaeological information and to illustrate the potential of interpreting archaeological data in specific contexts. By interpreting the same archaeological information in different contexts, we can begin to understand the multiple meanings of objects in the past, leading to a better understanding of past culture.

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

References

  1. Arnold, Eleanor (editor) 1983 Party Lines, Pumps, and Privies: Memories of Hoosier Homemakers. In Hoosier Homemakers Through the Years, an Oral History Project of The Indiana Extension Homemakers Association. Indiana University Press, Bloomington.Google Scholar
  2. Barlow, Ronald S. 1989 The Vanishing American Outhouse. Windmill, El Cajon, CA.Google Scholar
  3. Bryant, Douglas D. 1988 A Stylistic Approach to the Study of Privies. American Archaeology 7(1):66–76.Google Scholar
  4. Buck, Carl E. 1935 Survey and Appraisal of the Health Activities and Needs of Louisville. American Public Health Association, University of Louisville Archives, Louisville, KY.Google Scholar
  5. Bushman, Richard L., and Claudia L. Bushman 1988 The Early History of Cleanliness in America. The Journal of American History 74:1213–1238.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Cale, Bruce 1985 Privy Construction in Zanesville, Ohio. In Proceedings of the Symposium on Ohio Valley Urban and Historic Archaeology, Donald B. Ball and Philip J. DiBlasi, editors, 3:165–171. Archaeological Survey, University of Louisville, Louisville, KY.Google Scholar
  7. Casseday, Ben 1970 The History of Louisville From Its Earliest Settlement Till the Year 1852. Reprint of 1852 edition. G. R. Clark Press, Louisville, KY.Google Scholar
  8. Chamber’s Encyclopedia 1881 Chambers’ Encyclopedia: A Dictionary of Universal Knowledge for the People, Vol. 8. J. B. Lippincott and Co., Philadelphia, PA.Google Scholar
  9. Detmeter, Stephan C. 1994 19th-century Sanitation Technology in Urban Detroit. The Michigan Archaeologist 40(1): 1–24.Google Scholar
  10. Douglas, Mary 1966 Purity and Danger: An Analysis of the Concepts of Pollution and Taboo. Ark Paperbacks, Boston, MA.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Douglas, Mary (editor) 1982 Essays in the Sociology of Perception. Routledge and Keagan, Paul, Boston, MA.Google Scholar
  12. English, Judith Hart 1972 Louisville’s 19th Century Suburban Growth: Parkland, Crescent Hill, Cherokee Triangle, Beechmont, and Highland Park. Masters thesis, Department of Humanities, University of Louisville, Louisville, KY.Google Scholar
  13. Frykman, Jonas 1987 Clean and Proper. In Culture Builders: A Historical Anthropology of Middle Class Life, Alan Crozier, translator, Jonas Frykman and Orvar Lofgren, editors, pp. 157–264. Rutgers University Press, New Brunswick, NJ.Google Scholar
  14. Geismar, Joan H. 1993 Where is the Night Soil? Thoughts on an Urban Privy. Historical Archaeology 27(2):42–70.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Giddens, Anthony 1979 Central Problems in Social Theory: Action, Structure, and Contradiction in Social Analysis. University of California Press, Berkeley.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Granger, Joseph E. 1991 Arkys in the Hood: Russell Neighborhood Approach as Urban Archaeology. Manuscript, Department of Anthropology, University of Louisville, Louisville, KY.Google Scholar
  17. Gurcke, Karl 1987 Bricks and Brickmaking: A Handbook for Historical Archaeology. University of Idaho Press, Moscow.Google Scholar
  18. Hedgepeth, Mary Poynter 1989 Environmental Assessment for the Louisville Airport Improvement Program: Working Paper No. 8, Subtask 16, Historical Resources. Report to the Louisville and Jefferson County Regional Airport Authority, Louisville, KY.Google Scholar
  19. Horan, Julie L. 1996 The Porcelain God, A Social History of the Toilet. Birch Lane Press, Carol Publishing Group, Secaucus, NJ.Google Scholar
  20. Howson, Jean 1992 The Archaeology of 19th-century Health and Hygiene at the Sullivan Street Site in New York City. Northeast Historical Archaeology 21–22:137–160.Google Scholar
  21. Huynh, Hong Phan 1990 Historical Interview Data. In Environmental Assessment for the Louisville Airport Improvement Program, Working Paper No 9, Subtask 17, Archaeological Resources, Philip J. DiBlasi, editor, pp. 88–157. Report to The Louisville and Jefferson County Regional Airport Authority, Louisville, KY, from the University of Louisville Program of Archaeology, Louisville, KY.Google Scholar
  22. Kaufman, Leo 1891 Builder’s and Trader’s Exchange Handbook for Louisville 1891. Filson Club Historical Society, Louisville, KY.Google Scholar
  23. Kemp, Janet E. 1909 Report of the Tenement House Commission of Louisville. The University of Louisville Archives, Louisville, KY.Google Scholar
  24. Kennedy, J. C. G. (editor) 1856 The Progress of the Republic. W. M Morrison & Co., Washington, DC.Google Scholar
  25. Kentucky Board of Health 1919 Bulletin of the State Board of Health in Kentucky. Filson Club Historical Society, Louisville, KY.Google Scholar
  26. Kramer, Carl E., and Joseph E. Granger 1991 The Second Interim Report: A Historical Background Study for Phase I Archaeological Resource Evaluation in the Russell Neighborhood of the City of Louisville, Jefferson County, Kentucky. Report to Louisville Department of Housing and Urban Development, Louisville, KY from Archaeology Resources Consultant Services.Google Scholar
  27. Larkin, Jack 1988 The Reshaping of Everyday Life: 1790–1840. Harper and Row, New York, NY.Google Scholar
  28. Louisville City Code Book (LCC) 1884 Listing of Ordinances for the City of Louisville. University of Louisville Archives, Louisville, KY.Google Scholar
  29. 1919 Listing of Ordinances for the City of Louisville. University of Louisville Archives, Louisville, KY.Google Scholar
  30. 1941 Listing of Ordinances for the City of Louisville. University of Louisville Archives, Louisville, KY.Google Scholar
  31. Louisville City Directories 1832–1850 Louisville City Directories. University of Louisville Archives, Louisville, KY.Google Scholar
  32. Louisville Department of Health 1937 Annual Report of Public Health, Louisville Kentucky. University of Louisville Archives, Louisville, KY.Google Scholar
  33. Louisville Municipal Reports (LMR) 1866–1916 Louisville Municipal Reports, Project 55. University of Louisville Archives, Louisville, KY.Google Scholar
  34. Lucas, C. J. P 1936 City Health Periled by Pit-Vaults. Louisville Herald Post, 30 June. Louisville, KY.Google Scholar
  35. McAlester, Virginia, and Lee McAlester 1988 A Field Guide to American Houses. Alfred A. Knopf, New York, NY.Google Scholar
  36. McBride, W. Stephen 1993 Archaeological Test Excavations at Ten Sites in the Russell Neighborhood, Louisville, Kentucky. University of Kentucky Program for Cultural Resource Assessment, Archaeological Report 326. Lexington, KY.Google Scholar
  37. McKee, Harley J. 1973 Introduction to Early American Masonry: Stone, Brick, Mortar, and Plaster. National Trust for Historic Preservation and Columbia University, The Preservation Press, Washington DC.Google Scholar
  38. Montrie, Chadwick 1996 A Path to Reform: Confronting the Garbage Crisis in Louisville, 1865–1873. The Filson Club History Quarterly 70(1):27–38.Google Scholar
  39. Pleck, Elizabeth 1979 Black Migration and Poverty: Boston 1865–1900. Academic Press, New York, NY.Google Scholar
  40. Rapoport, Amos 1990 The Meaning of the Built Environment: Nonverbal Communication Approach. University of Arizona Press, Tucson.Google Scholar
  41. Rathje, William L., and Cullen Murphy 1992 Rubbish!: The Archaeology of Garbage. Harper Perennial Press, New York, NY.Google Scholar
  42. Reynolds, Reginold 1946 Cleanliness and Godliness. Doubleday and Company, New York, NY.Google Scholar
  43. Roberts, Daniel, and David Barrett 1984 Nightsoil Disposal Practices of the 19th Century and the Origin of Artifacts in Plowzone Proveniences. Historical Archaeology 18(1): 108–115.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Stewart-Abernathy, Leslie C. 1986 Urban Farmsteads: Household Responsibilities in the City. Historical Archaeology 20:5–15.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Stottman, M. Jay 1995 Towards a Greater Understanding of Privy Vault Architecture. In Historical Archaeology in Kentucky, Kim A. McBride, Stephen McBride, and David Pollack, editors, pp. 316–335. Kentucky Heritage Council, Frankfort.Google Scholar
  46. 1999 Archaeological Investigations at the Louisville Convention Center Expansion Site. Report to the Commonwealth of Kentucky Department of Finance, Lexington, from Kentucky Archaeological Survey, Lexington.Google Scholar
  47. Stottman, M. Jay, and Joseph E. Granger 1993 The Archaeology of Louisville’s Highland Park Neighborhood: Jefferson County Kentucky. Report to the Louisville and Jefferson County Regional Airport Authority, Louisville, KY, from Archaeological Resources Consultant Services, Louisville, KY.Google Scholar
  48. Stottman, M. Jay, and Jeff Watts-Roy 1995 Archaeology in Louisville’s Russell Neighborhood: Jefferson County, Kentucky. Report to Louisville Department of Housing and Urban Development, Louisville, KY, from Archaeological Resources Consultant Services, Louisville, KY.Google Scholar
  49. Strasser, Susan 1982 Never Done: A History of American Housework. Pantheon Books, New York, NY.Google Scholar
  50. Tarr, Joel A. 1976 Out of Sight, Out of Mind. American History Illustrated 10(9):40–47.Google Scholar
  51. White, John R. 1994 Wells as Artifacts. The Midcontinental Journal of Archaeology 19(1):39–70.Google Scholar
  52. Wynn, Makin 1959 Of Pots and Privies. William W. Delinger, Middlesburg, VA.Google Scholar
  53. Yater, George 1987 Two Hundred Years at the Falls of the Ohio. Filson Club Historical Society, Louisville, KY.Google Scholar
  54. Young, Amy L. 1990 Reconstruction Class Structure for 1910 Highland Park. In Environmental Assessment for the Louisville Airport Improvement Program, Working Paper No. 9, Subtask 17, edited by Philip J. DiBlasi, pp. 158–171. Report to the Louisville and Jefferson County Regional Airport Authority, Louisville, KY, from the University of Louisville Program of Archaeology, Louisville, KY.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Society for Historical Archaeology 2000

Authors and Affiliations

  • M. Jay Stottman
    • 1
  1. 1.Kentucky Archaeological SurveyUniversity of KentuckyLexingtonUSA

Personalised recommendations