This excerpt comes from an Annual Report for Indiana State Board of Health ©1885. The case is being made that while good indoor plumbing was something people were demanding in their homes, there still seemed to be issues with exterior sanitation. I share this article for a couple of reasons. Some wonder if indoor plumbing was being used and when it was being used on a regular bases in homes, this will help inform people of the state of Indiana in 1885 still pretty much a prairie state at that time. The second reason, is this could give a writer a cause for their characters to fight for in their city. The possibilities are there, you just need to think about it and absorb how folks were thinking about sanitation at the time.
It costs something to keep a city clean; it costs something to leave it dirty. The death rate is not the full measure of the cost. _
There is the corresponding suffering; there is the illness of many, the weakened working force. If we were to consider this latter purely as a matter of business, and disregard all ‘questions of sentiment, such as the loss of relatives and friends, We could see clearly enough that the cost of clean streets would be much less than ‘the loss by unclean streets. The increased working force of strong, healthy people of those who work and earn money, the saving of time and energy now expended in the care of others, and the expenses which come 'to all in connection with the care of those who are ill and weak would much more than meet the increased tax required to bring about the highest character of out-door sanitation. In a city where the streets are not clean and the alleys and other surroundings not properly cared for, there is no possible means of escaping the foulness. Foul outdoor air soon becomes foul air on the inside of a’house; one can not shut it out.
On the other hand, if the plumbing work is not well done in a city where the streets are clean and the outdoor sanitation good, there is a chance of escape for all. Doors may be closed to cut off bad plumbing, windows opened for ventilation and altogether immunity may be secured from bad plumbing much more readily than from bad outdoor air. It is measurably true that one can escape from bad plumbing as it is positively true that one can never escape from bad outdoor sanitation. The magazines, the newspapers, and all public journals and periodicals have drummed the plumbing idea into people’s heads. Every one is on the lookout for bad plumbing. People are fully alive to its benefits. They .insist on it and get it. The greatest evil, however, has been neglected. While we have been purifying the inside of the house we have the unclean garbage barrel in the back-yard, possibly an open vault, a muddy, un-1 clean alley, a manure pile, a neglected chicken-house, and streets and'other surroundings which are rarely properly cleaned'and garnished. '
The work of the public periodicals, which have saturated people with the benefits of good plumbing and indoor sanital tion, is in every way commendable. However, it has not gone far enough. Part of the field only has been covered, and it. appears that that part of greatest importance has been neglected. The newspapers and periodicals will be the instrument to improved outdoor sanitation. One article in a newspaper about. clean streets, adequate sewer arrangements and other efforts to cleanliness will do more good and accomplish more than any large number of the articles in scientific or sanitary periodicals which are seen only by experts. There must be a public understanding of the evils of foul exterior surroundings before the expert has his work to do. The newspapers educate the people along the line of sanitary engineering. The sanitary periodie cals and the special scientific journals keep the engineers informed of the latest methods. '
There must be a public demand before‘ there can be special supply.