The New Orleans Water Cure

Sometimes when browsing the books in our Special Collections & Archives a title just beckons you to pluck it from the shelf.

Today it was a volume entitled New Orleans Water Cure, by Father François Rougé. Written around 1887, this book outlines and explains how to use Bavarian priest Sebastian Kneipp’s, “Water Cure” to treat illnesses.

Sebastian Kneipp

Kneipp’s Water Cure was by no means exclusive to New Orleans, nor was it created here. The “Kneipp Cure” was essentially Kneipp’s take on hydrotherapy combined with naturopathic medicine.

The volume pits Kneipp’s hydrotherapy against the use of medicines to treat illness and outlines the processes involved in seeking and administering the cure.

Here is an excerpt illustrating the anti-medicine stance of the Kneipp Water Cure:

One of the more whimsical seeming requirements (part of Kneipp’s “hardening process”) was walking in the dew barefoot.  This actually became a (somewhat ridiculed) fad in Central Park in New York City, where gentlemen and ladies were seen walking barefoot in the morning dew or winter snow.

Kneipp’s methods (called Kneippism) combine hydrotherapy with diet, exercise, and herbal medicine. He was the most famous nature doctor of his time whose clients included Archduke Franz Ferdinand and Pope Leo XIII.

Franz Ferdinand

Pope Leo XIII

The Kneipp Water Cure located in New Orleans opened to the public on July 11th, 1896  in the area of Flood St. and Levee St. (Peters St. and Flood St.), and was initially run by Father Rougé, the author of book.

Daily Picayune advertisement from July, 31, 1898

Above is an image of the New Orleans Kneipp Water Cure (Cure D’Eau) from around 1905-1910. (Note the large water tower.)

Kneippism still flourishes today with a popular line of Kneipp naturopathic products available as well as locations where you can undergo Kneipp derived therapies.

Please feel free to come to visit the Special Collections & Archives to check out this book in our reading room Monday through Thursday 9:00am to 4:30pm.

Leave a Reply