Intelligent Bathing

This afternoon in the stacks I stumbled across an odd little pamphlet entitled “Baths for Health and Pleasure.” It was issued by the Bath Department of Dr. Carroll’s Sanitarium in Asheville, probably in the early 1900s. The foreword to the pamphlet explains that “The potency of intelligent bathing, as a force for health and beauty, is but imperfectly recognized.”

The pamphlet lists the different water-based services available at the sanitarium. Under “Baths for Health” are some unpleasant-sounding treatments including “The Wet Sheet Rub,” “Neptune’s Girdle,” “Alcohol Sponge Bath,” and “The Simultaneous Scotch Douche.” The “Baths for Pleasure” sound a little less frightful, some examples being “The Rub in Tub,” “The Pompeiian Bath,” and “The Plunge.” Sadly, the pamphlet is not illustrated.

Dr. Carroll’s place turns out to have an interesting history. It was founded by Dr. Robert S. Carroll, a psychiatrist, in Asheville in 1904. The name was changed to The Highland Hospital in 1912. That name might sound familiar to regular readers of “This Month in North Carolina History.” The Highland Hospital was where Zelda Fitzgerald died in a fire in 1948. The hospital was given to Duke University in 1949, which operated it until it closed in 1980.

The UNC Libraries have several of Dr. Carroll’s books, including Our Nervous Friends: Illustrating the Mastery of Nervousness, A Psychiatrist’s Quest: Why the Moron, the Genius, and the Rest of Us?, and The Grille Gate, which is described as a “medical novel.”

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