The Straight Dope: Is good personal hygiene a recent invention?: "What makes me skeptical that hygiene was so awful is that I often read of someone being particularly malodorous; if everything already stank horrifically, then how could people tell that someone had BO? Who had grounds to nitpick anyone else's pungency? --Jonathan, via e-mail"
And no, the column is not about 33 from September 2000 to May 2001 (my freshman year aka the year of extremely smelly boys). I found it interesting, and thought that you might too. Go on, have a look.