Everything has a history, including swimming pools. One of my goals for you in this course is to consider the histories of ordinary things and places around, and how they reflect the larger trends you have learned about. Jeff Wiltse’s book Contested Waters: A Social History of Swimming Pools in America argues that swimming pools serve as an important lens into changes in American life. You will write an essay that highlights the changes noted in the book and connect them to moments in broader American history discussed in class. Key themes to keep in mind while reading are: race, class, gender, leisure/recreation, public works, sexuality, etc.
Excellent essays will address at least three themes across three time periods. For example, you might explain how swimming pools illustrate the changing role of government (or public works) during 1880s, 1930s, and 1960s, pointing to why and how (e.g. race and class). Your explanations should use examples from the Give Me Liberty! textbook to illustrate an understanding of how important people, policies, movements, and events have impacted the history of swimming pools. Additional research is not required.