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Grant number: FT-249149-16

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Kendra D Smith-Howard
SUNY Research Foundation, Albany (Albany, NY 12222-0001)

The Evolving Definition of "Clean" in 20th-Century America

A book-length study of how changing technologies and industry transformed the idea of cleanliness in American culture during 20th-century.

Between 1900 and 2000, Americans revised what they thought “clean” meant and altered the ways they attained it. These changes in the meaning and technologies of cleanliness carried important consequences for Americans’ understanding of and relationship to the natural world. Through case studies about laundry, paper products, and cleaning fluids, the proposed book examines the labor, environmental resource management, and policy developments related to the practices of cleaning up in the twentieth-century United States. It will deepen understanding of the post-World War II rise in the service sector of the economy and the effects of environmental policy on consumers and businesses. Ultimately, the book asks readers to think of the seemingly mindless tasks of scrubbing floors and sorting laundry as worthy of contemplation and challenges them to confront their shifting environmental footprint.

Project fields:
History of Science; U.S. History

Summer Stipends

Research Programs

Total amounts:
$6,000 (approved)
$6,000 (awarded)

Grant period:
6/1/2016 – 7/31/2016