A Stark Look at Prostitution in Early America: Aug 7, 2013
Ann Seagraves, in SOILED DOVES PROSTITUTION IN THE EARLY WEST, offers some rare and amazing photographs related to the subject under discussion. Prior to reading this book, I had no idea there were so many levels in the prostitution world.
Seagraves makes a clear point of explaining the type of life available to the soiled doves at each level. It was amazing to see the difference in the lifestyles of women who were part of brothels vs. cribs.
One shocking idea expressed was the reality that foreign girls arriving in America often wound up in prostitution. Without knowledge of the language and a family for support, foreign-born girls were often unable to find other work. This flies in the face of one of our most cherished myths of the 1800?s -- that there was a place for everyone in America ? if they were willing to work.
Seagraves highlights a variety of soiled doves -- from madams to women who relied on a pimp to get work (and take their money). Although the author, through the use of vignettes, tries to bring the whores to life; she doesn?t succeed. The facts were more interesting than the manner in which they were shared.