The Bath Attendant

By Patricia J. Benjamin
[The Story of Massage]

The archetype “bath attendant” was a key figure in the continuing development of massage in the late 19th century. It was through this occupation that massage incorporated hydrotherapy modalities and became part of institutions that were the forerunners of today’s spas.
This development would add another layer of complexity to the already multifaceted history of massage therapy. The bath attendant’s expertise was in the application of water-based procedures such as compresses, hot and cold baths, packs, rubs and friction, and wraps. These were treatments in a drugless healing system called hydropathy or water cure, which, by the end of the 19th century, had evolved into a more comprehensive and scientific approach called hydrotherapy.

Excerpted from The Emergence of the Massage Therapy Profession in North America (Curties-Overzet, 2015) by Patricia J. Benjamin. Find it at