Friday, March 30, 2012

30 March 1909: Spring Cleaning the City

On this day, the following editorial ran in the Athens Banner:

In following years, with support from the Athens Women's Club and other civic organizations, an annual Clean Up Week was held in Athens. People were encouraged to clean around their homes and businesses, and the city would arrange to make sure all the trash was picked up the following week. 

Typically held in late March or early April, Clean Up Weeks were held around the nation, often in association with women's clubs, which were a growing force during the progressive era. A space that was visibly tidy and neat indicated that it was owned or occupied by people who were also tidy and neat, and therefore healthy, both physically and morally. 

Later Banner editorials advised not just straightening up any accumulated trash or unkempt bushes on one's property, but also clearing out closets, cleaning out cellars, adding fresh lime beneath houses, and painting or white washing fences, porches, or other outbuildings. 

Clean Up Weeks put "cleanliness is next to godliness" on a city-wide scale, with a great focus on insect eradication, especially flies, as part of a way to keep the city healthy and free of contagious disease as the city's population grew.

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