Soiled Doves: Prostitution in the Early West

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Wesanne Publications, 1994 - History - 175 pages
159 Reviews
Discover the fascinating yet grey world of prostitution and the women who participated in the world's oldest profession. Illustrated throughout with rare historical photos of women like Molly b' Dam, Lil' Lovell, and Mattic Silks. This strong book provides a touching insight into the lives of the ladies of the night, from pampered courtesans of the wealthy to enslaved Chinese girls.

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There may be quite a few books on prostitution in the Old West, but most of them are twaddle. The only academic book I can recommend is Anne Butler's "Daughters of Joy, Sisters of Misery" --but it requires quite a bit of time as it's a dense read. For those who don't really want to know 'that much' about The Profession, I would recommend "Soiled Doves".
Not only was it a quick, pleasurable read, but Ms. Seagraves seems to have done her homework; I found nothing factually in disagreement with Butler's research.
What I liked about the book, besides the many interesting historic photographs, was that the author was intent on not portraying all prostitutes as utterly powerless victims --something which Ms. Butler does relentlessly. Instead Ms. Seagraves offers the reader some examples of women, usually madams, who succeeded in making money for themselves, or who managed in one way or another to meaningfully contribute to their communities. And her writing about the interiors and décor of the various bawdy houses – from skanky crib to fancy establishment -- guided me in better understanding the general conditions in which these women worked.
Summary ::: I found that I like this book, and that it made a fine companion piece to Dr. Butler's more academic take on the subject of the prostitution in the Old West. Ms. Seagraves seems well aware of the academic literature on this topic as is shown by her bibliography, but has chosen to write a more populist book, sans footnotes.
Pam T

Review: Soiled Doves: Prostitution in the Early West

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Really interesting overview of prostitution in the West. I only wish the stories were expanded upon to present fully fleshed out biographies of these colorful characters. I do applaud Anne Seagraves ... Read full review

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About the author (1994)

Anne Seagraves's writing centers around the role of women in the old west. She has written Women Who Charmed the West, High Spirited Women of the West and Soiled Doves: Prostitutes in the Early West.

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