Episode 200: Everyday Life in Early America

What would you like to know about Early American History?

It turns out, you wanted to know about the establishment of schools, how the colonial postal service worked, and about aspects of health and hygiene in early America.

In this listener-inspired Q&A episode, we speak with Johann Neem, Joseph Adelman, and Ann Little to explore these aspects of early American history and to get answers to your questions about them.

About the Show

Ben Franklin’s World is a podcast about early American history.

It is a show for people who love history and for those who want to know more about the historical people and events that have impacted and shaped our present-day world.

Each episode features a conversation with a historian who helps us shed light on important people and events in early American history.

Ben Franklin’s World is a production of the Omohundro Institute.

Episode Summary

In celebration of Episode 200, Johann Neem, Joseph Adelman, and Ann Little help us explore answers to your questions about the establishment of schools in early America, how the colonial postal service functioned, and about colonial health and hygiene practices.

What You’ll Discover

  • Founding of free schools and education in North America
  • Free schools in colonial America
  • Regional variations in early American schools and education
  • Grassroots movement for education
  • Education for boys and girls
  • Early American colleges
  • Funding for early American colleges
  • Lessons from education in early America
  • Self-help education in early America
  • How the British North American postal system worked
  • Post riders and postal roads
  • Ship’s bags and packet boats
  • Post by friends and messengers
  • Early American postage rates
  • Transatlantic correspondence
  • Cost of paper and letters
  • Interimperial mail service
  • Benjamin Franklin and the early American postal service
  • Connections between the postal service and better transportation
  • Views about hygiene in early America
  • Practice of cold-water immersive bathing
  • Oil Smearing
  • Native American adoption of European textiles
  • Soap and laundry
  • Early American body products
  • Hair washing and wig wearing
  • Early American dental care
  • Lice, fleas, and body bugs
  • How early Americans dealt with menstruation
  • How early Americans learned about sex and reproduction


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