By 1891, Reinhard Baumeister, though less familiar to American engineers, had already established himself as one of Germany’s leading authorities on urban planning. The translator of this text, careful to account for differences between German and American conceptions of urban cleanliness, quotes Baumeister in his introduction: “The author,” the translator writes, “credits us very truly with being ‘less willing to put up with the inconvenience of overflowed streets and cellars.’” There’s no question that turmoil would have ensued, had this fundamental difference in expectations been ignored by the designers of sewage systems in the United States.
The MIT Library received this copy on 25 May 1891, just two years after the Institute established the country’s first sanitary engineering curriculum. The Library’s copy bears the label of a local Boston bookseller, W.B. Clarke & Co., then located not far from MIT’s old Back Bay campus – a reminder of the times when an MIT librarian might use the neighborhood bookstore to help build a cutting-edge research collection.