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Cleaning up the North: Cleanliness, Work and Gender in the Nordic Countries, 1850–1940

Tampere University
Area of focusSociety
Pyykin huuhtelua veneessä 1930-1939. Kuva: Esbo Hembygdsförening, Espoon kaupunginmuseo, CC BY-ND 4.0.

The research group discusses the connection between cleanliness, work and gender (1850–1940) from a Nordic point of view. We combine macro level analyses with micro level approaches by focusing on society, home and the body alike.

The group members work on the following questions:

  • How was the Finnish sauna propagated in Sweden at the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries?
  • Why did the late 19th-century freeholding peasants in Norrland, Sweden, buy soap and decorate their homes?
  • How were dirt and cleanliness experienced in a Finnish poorhouse in the early 1900s?
  • How did voluntary organisations in a Danish town approach cleanliness in the mid-1900s?
  • How was cleanliness presented in Swedish contact announcements, 1890s–1980s?
  • What kind of things were perceived as disgusting on a Finnish marketplace in the early 1900s?
  • What was a Norwegian dishcloth like in 1860 and 1940?
  • Why did the Swedish doctors abandon smoke as a cleansing matter in favour of water in the late 1800s?
  • What was the crisis in health education like in Finland in the early 1900s?
  • How was a clean Swedish kitchen created in the early 1900s?

The group is funded by NOS-HS Workshops Grant 20192020, and it operates as a part of Academy of Finland Centre of Excellence in the History of Experiences (HEX).

(Photo: Esbo Hembygdsförening, Espoon kaupunginmuseo, CC BY-ND 4.0).

Other members

Karin Carlsson (Stockholm University), Annelie Drakman (Stockholm University), Josefin Englund (Gymnastik- och idrotthögskolan University), Ingun Grimstad Klepp (OsloMet),  Inger Lyngdrup Nørgård (Randers Stadsarkiv & Museum Østjylland), Eija Stark (University of Helsinki), Marie Ulväng (Stockholms University), Karolina Wiell (Karlstad University & Mittuniversitetet University), Ann-Catrin Östman (Åbo Akademi University).

Contact persons

Johanna Annola (johanna.annola [at]