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Tents and Tenements: The Civil War’s Impact on Urban Health

March 19 @ 6:00 pm - 7:00 pm

| Pay-What-You-Please

Learn how the lessons learned from Civil War medicine impacted public health going forward.

Federal camp Courtesy of the Library of Congress

Federal camp Courtesy of the Library of Congress


On Thursday March 19, 2020 at 6:00 PM join historian Dr. Melanie A. Kiechle at the Clara Barton Missing Soldiers Office Museum as she discusses the way Civil War camps influenced urban and public health in the decades after the Civil War.

Why did soldiers compare their tents to tenements? Why did physicians compare camps to major cities? In this talk, Dr. Kiechle will explore the connections between wartime experiences and the public health movement in nineteenth-century cities. Because miasma theory made Americans worry that bad smells caused illness, smelly spaces were health threats. Concentrated odors were a frequent concern in antebellum cities, but the disruption of war exposed rural Americans to powerful stenches and too physicians. Few would forget these encounters, or the visceral lessons about fresh air and good health.

The pay-what-you-please presentation begins at 6:00 PM at the Clara Barton Missing Soldiers Office Museum.

Melanie Kiechle is a historian of the nineteenth-century United States. Her interests include culture, environments, cities, health, science, and smells. Her book, Smell Detectives: An Olfactory History of Nineteenth-Century Urban America, uncovers how city residents used their noses to understand, adjust to, and fight against the environmental changes created by rapid urban growth and industrialization. She is an associate professor of history at Virginia Tech, where she teaches courses on United States history, environmental history, and the history of science and medicine.


March 19
6:00 pm - 7:00 pm
Event Tags:
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Jake Wynn
301-695-1864, ext. 1009


Clara Barton Missing Soldiers Office Museum
437 7th Street NW
Washington, 20004 United States
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