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Historical Archaeology

Sin City



The Society for Historical Archaeology

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Historical Archaeology
Volume 39, Number 1 2005 Journal of The Society for Historical Archaeology


Past Foward, Inc. Garden Valley, California 95633-0969

In association with Ronald L. Michael, Editor Emeritus


FRONT COVER: Nineteenth-century illustration entitled "How two dashing [Members of Congress] represented their constituents" (Buel 1883).


Copyediting by Marianne Brokaw Houghton, Michigan

Composition by Morgan Printing Austin, Texas 2005 by The Society for Historical Archaeology Printed in the United States of America ISSN 0440-9213

The paper used in this publication meets the minimum requirements of the American National Standard for Information SciencesPermanence of Paper for Printed Library Materials, ANSI Z39.48-1984.

Archaeology in Sin City DONNA J. SEIFERT 1

Wealthy, Free, and Female: Prostitution in Nineteenth-Century New York REBECCA YAMIN Babies in the Privy: Prostitution, Infanticide, and Abortion in New York Citys Five Points District THOMAS A. CRIST Illicit Congress in the Nations Capital: The History of Mary Ann Halls Brothel ELIZABETH BARTHOLD O'BRIEN Mary Ann Halls House DONNA J. SEIFERT AND JOSEPH BALICKI Public Image and Private Reality: An Analysis of Differentiation in a Nineteenth-Century St. Paul Bordello K. ANNE KETZ, ELIZABETH J. ABEL, AND ANDREW J. SCHMIDT Brothels and Saloons: An Archaeology of Gender in the American West CATHERINE HOLDER SPUDE City of Angels, City of Sin: Archaeology in the Los Angeles Red-Light District ca. 1900 MICHAEL D. MEYER, ERICA S. GIBSON, AND JULIA G. COSTELLO 4 19 47 59 74 89 107

Comments on Sin City DIANA DIZEREGA WALL Archaeologists in the Brothel: Sin City, Historical Archaeology and Prostitution TIMOTHY J. GILFOYLE 126 133

Elizabeth J. Abel, 3905 Lancaster Ln., No. 112, Plymouth, MN 55441 Joseph Balicki, John Milner Associates, Inc., 5250 Cherokee Ave., No. 300, Alexandria, VA 22312 Julia G. Costello, Foothill Resources, Ltd., PO Box 288, 8331 Stevenson St., Mokelumne Hill, CA 95245 Thomas A. Crist, Utica College, 1600 Burrstone Rd., Utica, New York 13502-4892 Erica S. Gibson, Anthropological Studies Center, Sonoma State University, 1801 E. Cotati Ave., Rohnert Park, CA 94928-3609 Timothy J. Gilfoyle, Department of History, Loyola University Chicago, 6525 N. Sheridan Rd., Chicago, IL 60626 K. Anne Ketz, The 106 Group Ltd., 370 Selby Ave., St. Paul, MN 55102 Michael D. Meyer, Anthropological Studies Center, Sonoma State University, 1801 E. Cotati Ave., Rohnert Park, CA 94928-3609 Elizabeth Barthold O'Brien, John Milner Associates, Inc., 401 Fontaine St., Alexandria, VA 22302 Andrew J. Schmidt, 31 Raposa, Rancho Santa Margarita, CA 92688 Donna J. Seifert, John Milner Associates, Inc., 5250 Cherokee Avenue, No. 300, Alexandria, VA 22312 Catherine Holder Spude, National Park Service, Intermountain Support Office, PO Box 728, Santa Fe, NM 87504 0728 Diana diZerega Wall, Department of Anthropology, The City College of CUNY, New York, NY 10031 Rebecca Yamin, John Milner Associates, Inc., 1216 Arch St., Philadelphia, PA 19107

Donna J. Seifert

Archaeology in Sin City

The brothel was a social and economic institution of the 19th-century American city. Houses advertised in city guidebooks and newspapers, and clients came from all classes and ethnic groups. Many proprietors were well known, and prostitution was a profession listed in the manuscript census. Prostitutions principal venue, the brothel, was part of the urban landscape. The defining feature of the brothel was, of course, sex for a fee, but there were several recognized classes of brothel. The class of the house was characterized by the youth, beauty, and talents of its prostitutes; services offered; and ambiance. High-class houses charged high rates and offered the most desirable women, expensive food and beverages, and best furnishings. The high-class brothel also protected its resident prostitutes from unruly clients and meddlesome police and provided comfortable living accommodations and meals. Lower-class houses offered less and charged less. Streetwalkers offered the most basic service and faced the greatest personal risk. The location of the most discreet of the houses was closely guarded, but many highclass brothels were urban landmarks. They appear on birds-eye views and are noted as female boardinghouses on insurance maps. In addition to notations in newspapers and census records, brothels and their proprietors were cited in police and court records, but not nearly so often as streetwalkers who worked without the protection of the brothel. Streetwalkers were often subject to fines and imprisonment, but when a madam or prostitute of a high-class house ran afoul of the law, usually payment of a fine--or at worst, a change of venue--permitted the business to resume operation. Fornication, lascivious behavior, and loitering were illegal in most cities, but operation of a boardinghouse for the purpose of prostitution was not regulated in many jurisdictions until the early-20th century. During much of the 19th
Historical Archaeology, 2005, 39(1):13. Permission to reprint required.

century, prostitution was accepted as a necessary evil: the prostitutes service saved virtuous wives from excessive demands for sex, as men were not expected to endure fidelity or chastity. Prostitution was one of the few lucrative employment options available to women in the 19th century. Employment options for women, such as domestic service, sewing, shopkeeping, factory work, and teaching, barely paid a living wage, let along enough to support dependents. Prostitution paid far more, and the brothel provided protection and many comforts. Streetwalkers or workers in low-class houses or cribs earned less and had no protection from violent or abusive clients. Owning or operating a brothel could also be a rewarding business opportunity. For some women, prostitution was a family business, and the career path from prostitute to brothel keeper or owner led to economic success and comfortable retirement in the country. Illness, destitution, or death was the fate of others. Little is known of these unfortunates, but historical sources and the archaeological record document the life and material culture of the successful businesswomen, as well as some of those who passed through cribs and the judicial system. Were prostitutes exploited by social codes and punitive laws that allowed men to pursue their sexual desires, punished women who even acknowledged desire, and criminalized women who expressed their sexuality? Or did these women exploit male weakness to achieve economic independence? Were prostitutes victims or women in charge of their own destinies? The simple answer to all of the above is yes. The challenge is in understanding the contradictions of the prostitutes life. The act of prostitution is not directly observable in the archaeological record, but the venue, the brothel, can be identified through analyses of documentary and archaeological evidence. Although brothels were common in 19th-century cities, the archaeology of this site type has not received the attention devoted to other types of households or commercial establishments. The literature is full of reports on excavations of working-class family households, taverns, workshops, and mills, but


there are few reports on brothels. It is likely that some brothels have been excavated without being recognized, particularly those not clearly identified through documents. Brothels are hard to definitively identify from their material culture alone, as there is no single artifact signature for a brothel. Nevertheless, brothel assemblages are generally different from neighboring kin-based households. Isolating and understanding the differences is the objective. This collection of papers was developed to address the archaeology of the brothel as a site type. The sites include brothels in the East, Midwest, and West and represent several classes of brothels, dating from the 1840s through the turn of the century. The authors emphasize various aspects of prostitution and brothel life, including material culture, household composition, health, diet, clientele, and the law. In most cases, the archaeologists contributing to this collection found brothels when they evaluated the cultural resources potential of land slated for development. They did not seek out a brothel, but after one was identified, they had to decide how to best realize its information potential. As the reader of this collection will see, archaeologists approached this site type in different ways. The authors of these papers were specifically asked to consider the kinds of information that can be learned from the excavation and analysis of a brothel site. Historical archaeologists know that documentary sources provide valuable but limited information. Written sources always have a purpose: they are intended to record particular information and omit other information. They never include everything the student of human culture wants to know. The authors in this volume demonstrate that the complementary archaeological record may corroborate or contradict historical record and can yield information about brothel life that cannot be known from other sources. The first two papers address the archaeological assemblage of a privy shaft associated with a brothel in New York City. Rebecca Yamin considers the wealth and independence of working-class prostitutes in this 1840s brothel in the Five Points neighborhood. The artifact assemblage and food remains of the brothel express both working-class material culture and middleclass comforts, and Yamin interprets this duality in terms of the positive and negative aspect of

the prostitutes lives. The Five Points privy shaft also yielded the skeletal remains of two full-term human neonates and a fetus. Thomas Crist moves from the straightforward analysis of the physical remains to the more complicated issues of social and legal positions on infanticide, abortion, and the choices faced by pregnant women from the late-18th century to the mid19th century. Mary Ann Halls Washington, DC, brothel is also the subject of two papers. Hall operated her high-class establishment at the foot of Capitol Hill from about 1840 to the late 1870s. Elizabeth Barthold OBrien presents the documentary evidence that illuminates the social and legal history of Halls career and her house. Donna J. Seifert and Joseph Balicki complement OBriens documentary research with their analysis of the archaeological assemblage from an 1860 to 1870 context. The archaeological evidence reflects a large household and demonstrates that Halls house was indeed furnished with expensive tablewares, exotic foods, and costly champagne. Nina Cliffords St. Paul brothel was excavated and interpreted by K. Anne Ketz, Elizabeth J. Abel, and Andrew J. Schmidt. The authors address the differences between the front-yard and backyard assemblages and contrast the public perceptions of the glamorous life of the residents with the archaeological evidence of poor health. Western brothels and saloons are the focus of Catherine Holder Spudes contribution. She examined five saloon and three brothel sites from working-class mining communities and from an urban neighborhood in Los Angeles (also addressed in the last paper in this collection). Spude looks at the frequencies of gender-specific items in saloons and in brothels to facilitate the identification of sites not documented in written records. She demonstrates the utility of this method and argues that clearer discrimination of site occupants will help archaeologists understand the roles of men and women in the Euro-American settlement of the West. The Los Angeles parlor house at the turn of the century is examined by Michael D. Meyer, Erica S. Gibson, and Julia G. Costello. Domestic deposits of the houses neighbors were also analyzed and compared with the brothel. The authors contrast the material culture associated with the parlor house and the lowly crib and compare the expensive tablewares and groom-

DONNA J. SEIFERTArchaeology in Sin City

ing artifacts of the parlor house with the lower frequencies of both classes of artifacts in the neighborhood households. Two scholars were asked to comment on the papers. Diana diZerega Wall brought her knowledge of urban historical archaeology, feminist sensitivity, and critical eye to her discussion of the contributions of the papers. Timothy J. Gilfoyle approached the papers with an historians knowledge of brothels and prostitution drawn from the documentary record and critiqued the archaeologists interpretations of that record, while demonstrating his openness to the contributions of archaeology in understanding the past. Taken together, the papers and commentaries offer a significant body of information and a range of approaches to the study of the 19thcentury brothel. Like all good research, the collection offers new findings as well as unresolved problems for further research. This is surely not the last word on brothels; rather, the authors hope that this collection will urge forward other archaeologists in the study of this shady corner of the past.

These papers were first presented in 1998 at the meeting of The Society for Historical Archaeology in Atlanta, Georgia. All of the original authors stayed with the project, steadfast and persistent throughout the long process of writing and revising papers for publication. I thank each of them. On behalf of us all, I also thank peer reviewers Barbara J. Little, Elizabeth M. Scott, and Laurie A. Wilkie for helping us prepare better papers. My colleagues Joseph Balicki, V. Casey Gonzalez, and Jerrie Ott provided invaluable assistance in preparing the collection for submission. Associate Editor Rebecca Allen guided us through the final stages of preparation. I hereby publicly thank her for her cheerful performance of the thankless task. For his encouragement and proddingeach in the right amount and at just the right timeI thank Editor Ronald L. Michael.


Rebecca Yamin

Wealthy, Free, and Female: Prostitution in NineteenthCentury New York

Increasing class consciousness permeated the institution of prostitution in 19th-century New York City. In a Five Points brothel that was closed in 1843, the resident working-class prostitutes manipulated accoutrements of gentility to attract a bourgeois clientele. They used the symbols of middle-class respectability to their own advantage, increasing the value of the commodity they offered for sale and enjoying the comforts that money could buy. The artifacts recovered from the brothels privy suggest that when the women were not working they lived no better than their sisters in the tenements. Ceramics and food remains, in particular, fall into two contrasting groups: one that is comparable to the upper middle class and the other that resembles other working-class residents of Five Points. The duality reveals exploitation as well as economic well-being and pain as well as pleasure. Five Points prostitutes may have looked wealthy, free, and female from the outside, but an inside perspective suggests their lives were considerably more complex.

Introduction As the bourgeoisie has the intellectual, organizational and every other advantage, the superiority of the proletariat must be exclusively in its ability to see society from the center, as a coherent whole (Lukcs 1971:69). On 10 April 1836, Helen Jewett was murdered in her bed. At the time, she lived at Rosina Townsends City Hotel, the most popular brothel in New York, and she was counted among the wealthy, free, and female (Gilfoyle 1992:97) prostitutes who did everything to please their men and did well for themselves in the process. But apparently these independent women also angered men (Gilfoyle 1987). They appeared to have more freedom than the men themselves who were finding it difficult to marry and support a family on the exploitive wages and new circumstances of the industrial era (Gilfoyle 1992:113). Physical attacks on prostitutes and their possessions were not unusual, and Jewett

was almost certainly murdered by a regular (and favorite) customer, Richard Robinson, a clerk in the garment business (Cohen 1998). The question raised in this study is whether the prostitutes at Five Points were wealthy, free, and female. Was prostitution just a job, no more degrading than any other and considerably better paid? Can archaeology bring anything new to a subject that has received considerable attention in the past as well as in recent years? Dr. William Sangers statistical work, The History of Prostitution, Its Extent, Causes, and Effects Throughout the World , originally published in 1858, was based on detailed interviews with 2,000 New York City prostitutes. His comprehensive questionnaire covered innumerable subjectsage, place of birth, marital status, number of children, number of years in the profession, reasons for choosing it, previous occupations, incidence of venereal disease, etc.with the ultimate purpose of curing a perceived societal evil. More recent studies (City of Eros: New York City, Prostitution, and the Commercialization of Sex, 17901920 by Timothy Gilfoyle; Their Sisters Keepers: Prostitution in New York City, 18301870 by Marilynn Wood Hill; and City of Women: Sex and Class in New York, 17891860 by Christine Stansell), published in the last decade or so, use the techniques of social history to place 19th-century prostitution in a social and economic context. The purpose of these studies is not to condemn the institution but to understand commercial sex as part of New York Citys 19th-century culture. There is a lot of information available on prostitution in 19th-century New York, but the assemblage from Feature AG on Block 160, a block that was excavated in the path of a new federal courthouse at Foley Square, provides a material record that is lacking in these other studies, a record of the private as well as the public side of brothel life. Block 160 abutted the infamous intersection from which Five Points got its name (Figure 1). Prostitution was one of the various illicit activities that gave the neighborhood its notoriety, and the brothels at the Points were believed to be of the worst sort (Gilfoyle 1992:3941). Feature AG was a stone-lined privy located at the back

Historical Archaeology, 2005, 39(1):418. Permission to reprint required. Accepted for publication 11 November 2003.

REBECCA YAMINWealthy, Free, and Female

Figure 1. The Five Points intersection and the courthouse site. Base map from Riis 1971:230.

of Lot 43 or No. 12 Orange (later Baxter) Street, one of three streets that created the Five Points intersection. The artifact assemblage recovered, from the bottom of the privy (layer numbers 10 and 11 within AS III on Figure 2) and the portion of that deposit that was displaced when a trench for a wall footing was dug through the deposit in the 1890s (layers 5, 6, 7, and 8), was

different from any other assemblage recovered on the block. The fanciness of the ceramics, including a complete Chinese porcelain tea set (Figure 3), an unusually large number (37) of decorated chamber pots (Figure 4), three glass urinals made especially for women (Figure 5), a ceramic pot with the words AMAILLE, s.d. Vinaigrier written on it, and a larger number of wine bottles


Figure 3. A complete enameled coffee and tea set in Chinese export porcelain (early-19th century). The set includes 9-inch plates (rear left), slop bowl (rear center), tea caddy (rear right), handled coffee cups (front left), and handleless tea cups/bowls (front right).

Figure 2. Lot 43, Feature AG, stone-lined privy. Profile of fill layers in western half.

than found in any other Five Points feature suggested that the assemblage related to a brothel. It was subsequently discovered that the skeletal remains of two newborn infants and additional fragmentary remains of a fetus also belonged to the assemblage. The terminus post quem for the deposit was 1840. The Federal Census for 1840 lists seven occupants at No. 12 Orange Street: Joseph Belmer, occupation unknown, his wife and child, and Henry Lichtreker, a coppersmith, whose household included his wife and two children (U.S. Bureau of the Census 1840). Thomas Cogan, a slater, whose household included himself, another man and one woman, was listed at No. 10 Orange Street. Numbers 10 and 12 were on the same lot. A Robert Goodman was taxed on a tavern at No. 10 Orange Street from 1809 to 1845 (New York City Tax Assessments). None of these people reappears at either No. 10 or No. 12 Orange in the 1850 census, but it is interesting to note that the later census lists 19 people living at No. 10 and seven living at No. 12, suggesting that there was room for more than the number that was listed in 1840. Because the residents listed in 1840 did not suggest an obvious connection to a brothel,

Figure 4. Decorated chamber pots from Feature AG.

Figure 5. Glass urinals for women.

REBECCA YAMINWealthy, Free, and Female

an effort was made to discover whether any other records existed that might explain the assemblage. A brothel at 12 Orange Street is not mentioned in Gilfoyles book, City of Eros. But when contacted, Gilfoyle found a reference to an indictment (State ex rel. Blackall et al. v. Donohue 1843) against John Donohue for operating a brothel in the cellar at 12 Orange Street in his unpublished notes. The complaint was brought by an Irish-born tinsmith named Edward Blackall of 12 1 2 Orange Street and storekeeper Robert J. Gordon of 10 Orange Street before George W. Matsell, then a police justice on the citys police court. It stated that one John Donoho or Donahue, who occupied the premises in the basement of 12 Orange Street, was operating a disorderly house, viz. a rest for prostitutes and others of ill name and fame, where great numbers of characters are in the nightly practice of reveling until late and improper hours of the night, dancing, drinking, carousing to the great disgrace of the neighborhood. Donahue was indicted on the count of keeping a certain common, illgoverned and disorderly house by Leonard N. Whiting, the New York County district attorney, on 14 September 1843. Donahue was arrested and held on $300 bail. His trial was set for 30 October when he was convicted of the crime. According to Tyler Anbinders (2001:219) recent historical research on Five Points, penalties for keeping brothels were not generally severe. The majority of those found guilty received just a slap on the wrist and many simply vacated their places of business when indicted which they correctly surmised would lead to a dismissal of the charges. Apparently Donahue was not so lucky. The proximity of the indictment date, 14 September 1843, and the 1840 terminus post quem for the assemblage as well as the nature of the deposit suggested that a major portion of the artifacts related to the closing of the brothel. While objects might have been thrown into the privy by any of the residents at No. 12 while it was in use, the large number of mendable vessels (310) and the number of matching vessels from the bottom of the privy argue for cataclysmic deposition. The deposit resembles the kind of massive single-phase deposit described by Kathleen Wheeler (1996:2) for several households at Strawberry Banke in New Hampshire.

In that case, major deposits characterized by many mendable and matching vessels were correlated with the resignation of female heads of household (through death or relocation) and contrasted with gradual accumulations (1996:3). The particular resignation at No. 12 Orange Street provides a window into life in a Five Points brothel when it was in full swing. Published Studies about 19th-Century Prostitution in New York Very little has been written about life inside New Yorks 19th-century brothels, although the citys prostitutes and prostitution have been studied since the 19th century. In 1858, when Sanger (1939:18) published his work, he believed, as did many others, that prostitution was a moral pestilence threatening every man, woman, and child in the community. Sanger approached his study of prostitution statistically, having confidence that armed with data society might regulate the pestilence even if it were impossible to eradicate it. Sanger (1939: 23) also had somewhat enlightened views about what prostitution did to women. He wrote:
There is another phase of public safety which demands the investigation, namely, the preservation of female honor. Those who frequent these haunts of vice are forever employed in casting about snares to entrap the young, the unwary, or the friendless woman. They tempt her to minister to their libidinous desires, and swell the already overcrowded ranks of frailty.

Sanger (1939:23) believed there was hope even for reforming courtesans for they are human beings, though depraved. Their hearts throb with the same sympathies that move the more favored of their sex ... . Few of them become vile from natural instincts. The moralizing attitude of mid-19th-century reformers is evident in Sangers writings, but he must also be credited for devising a study that revealed a great deal about the practice of prostitution in mid-19th-century New York. Although the study was initially conceived to investigate syphilis in the prison population at Blackwells Island under Sangers care, he thought the disease had to be understood in a broader context. His study looked to the society, its values, and institutions for a framework in which to explain the incidence of venereal disease.


Data for the study came from a schedule of questions administered under Sanger s supervision in 1855 by New York Chief of Police George W. Matsell, Esq., and the captains of police. Two thousand questionnaires were completed, providing information on age, place of birth, marital status, number of children, number of years in the profession and reasons for choosing it, previous occupations, incidence of venereal disease, and a variety of other topics. Particularly pertinent to the study of the brothels at Five Points is his information on various classes of houses of prostitution (Sanger 1939:chapter XXXV). According to Sanger (1939:550), the highest class of house, the parlor house, was furnished with a lavish display of luxury but not good taste ... large mirrors, gilt, paintings and engravings, vases and statuettes. The prostitutesthree-quarters of them natives of the United Statesin such establishments paid from $10 to $16 a week to live there, worked from noon to midnight or later, drank champagne with their clients, wore fashionable clothes, and were provided with a neat and well-arranged breakfast at about 11 or 12 oclock and dinner at 5 or 6 by an experienced staff of servants usually colored (Sanger 1939:554). A second class of house attempted the same standard as the first class but was not as lavish. The prostitutes included women whose charms had begun to fade and the foreign born. The women drank wine and brandy with their visitors instead of champagne and put up with less-experienced servants. The third grade, prevalent in the citys less fashionable districts including Five Points, was, according to Sanger, equal in all respects to the second class and sometimes superior. The women were young, good looking, and almost all foreign born, the largest proportion being Irish and German. A German variant on this class, prevalent particularly in the First Ward, consisted of a front barroompossibly the cellar of an ordinary-sized housewhere can be obtained lager beer and German wines (Sanger 1939:560). A stranger to the city might not recognize this as a reception room, particularly if he did not know that a crimson and white curtain signified the true purpose of the establishment. Between clients, the prostitutes sat in the room knitting or sewing; there were small bedrooms in the back for the

business at hand. Such a place was usually run by a man and his wife: the man to keep the barroom and the woman to do the cooking and general housework, while the girls attended to their own rooms. Below these categories were a variety of less savory establishments as well as streetwalkers, who rented individual rooms, and women who entertained in the third tier of theaters. While Sangers work was driven by public health concerns, more recent scholarship has focused on prostitution as a gender issue. Hill (1993:2) examines the negative and positive aspects of practicing a trade that was at the fringes of the law and outside the realm of respectability in a society where womens rights and activities were severely restricted. On the positive side, Hill claims that at least 24 known prostitutes were assessed for $5,000 or more of real and personal property. Converted to 1988 dollars, these women were each worth a half million dollars or more, suggesting that as a profession, prostitution was financially the best of the limited occupational alternatives available to 19th-century women (Hill 1993: 100). Negatively, it was illegal, although the definition of this illegality changed over the decades and enforcement was less than stringent. According to Hill (1993:150), houses of prostitution were allowed to operate in local neighborhoods because law officers did not generally perceive them as criminal or a major problem in the community. The women were treated as neighborhood citizens, and when they or their possessions were threatened, they were not afraid to call the watch, press charges, and give court testimony (Hill 1993:159). While Hill identifies Five Points as New York Citys most famous area of prostitution from 1830 to 1850, her study provides particular insights into the parlor houses located elsewhere in the city and visited by the upper classes. Her information comes from previously unpublished letters written by the celebrated Helen Jewett. According to Hill (1993:220), Jewett had a large, draped bed and other furniture, including a work table with pen, papers, and pamphlets and a library of light novels, poetry and periodicals. When she was out of town, she was missed by her regular customers who seemed to long for her company as much as anything else. A letter

REBECCA YAMINWealthy, Free, and Female

from a Mrs. Berry to Jewett in 1835 reads, Bill Easy appears rather melancholy at your absence ... he is very anxious to see you ... Sam and three of his friends were here last night and enquired for you, but as you were not here they went away. According to Hill (1993:262), Easy, whose real name was George Marston, was one of Jewetts regular customers; she made and mended shirts for him and he brought her his friends. For Gilfoyle (1992:97), Jewetts career and death simultaneously represented the dangerous, inevitable results of sexual freedom alongside the tangible benefits of a career in commercial sex. Violence against prostitutes their furniture was destroyed, their persons attackedwas, according to Gilfoyle, part of the climate in which men looked for sexual pleasure and companionship outside the home, which had become a bastion of female power. They sought extramarital companionship, but they also resented the sexually independent women who seemed more in control of their lives than many men (Gilfoyle 1992:113). While they risked their health and safety, prostitutes like Jewett lived handsomelythey were, in Gilfoyles (1992:97) words, wealthy, free, and female a very different condition from their laboring sisters in the working-class districts of the city. They took advantage of the plight of men in a society that was becoming more competitive as capitalistic labor relations became more entrenched. For the mencalled sporting men at the timecommercial sex replaced the intimacy and support of marriage. For the women, it provided a level of income that was otherwise unavailable. In addition to providing a decent living, Stansell (1987) argues that prostitution was a way to make unilateral power relationships into reciprocal ones and a way to escape from, or evade, familial control. Values that called for women to be dependent on men, and for the working class to stay, in its place were defied by women who took on their own support and did not conform to expectations in terms of public behavior (Stansell 1987:175). Often women became prostitutes because they had been deserted or abused, but they also turned to prostitution to escape the control of their families. It took money to become part of the urban youth culture, to buy clothes and go to

the theater. If their earnings were absorbed by their families, there was nothing left for them and no escape into a better life. These four published studies provide a good picture of prostitution in mid-19th-century New York. Hill, in particular, because she includes Jewetts letters, approaches an insiders view. The assemblage of artifacts and food remains that was recovered from the brothel at 12 Orange Street provides a different kind of insiders view. Archaeological Remains In many ways, the archaeological assemblage from Feature AG (AS III) was unlike all other assemblages from Block 160. Besides the unusual number of chamber pots, the ceramic assemblage included a large number of pitchers (20 out of an assemblage of 300 vessels), substantially more than were found in any other feature on the block. There were also more serving dishes (17 plus five platters) and more small plates (muffins and twifflers). Muffins (34) and twifflers (22) came in a variety of printed landscape patterns, but they were also decorated in the shell-edge and willow patterns, the least expensive ceramics available in the period. A total of 30 dinner plates was recovered, most of them in the shell-edge pattern, the pattern that also included the most serving dishes. Apparently, the brothels everyday set of dishes was shell edged. There were several sets of cup plates, a vessel that is difficult to classify in this case as either a tableware or a tea ware. Cup plates were used as coasters, usually for teacups, but they could very well have been used for wine glasses in a brothel. One set of cup plates is decorated in a dark blue pattern, showing cows against a woodland background, and another with a motif of exotic birds surrounded by flowers. The motifs contrast dramatically with the urban surroundings in which they were used. Portions of 15 tea sets were identified, most of them decorated in the popular printed patterns of the day (Tyrolean, Japonica, Japan Flowers, Oriental Scenery), but there were also Chinese export porcelain cups and saucers in the Nanking Canton pattern and the complete set of Chinese export porcelain mentioned above (Figure 3). In addition to 10 teacups and four



saucers, this set included a twiffler, a teapot (spout only), a tea caddy, two slop bowls, and ten coffee/chocolate cups. While not unique, it is as elegant as the porcelains recovered on sites associated with upper-class New Yorkers (Brighton 2000a). A unique ceramic type in the assemblage is represented by a set of five matching waisted teacups decorated in a blue printed landscape motif with bands of pinkpurple lustre around their rims. Clearly, many tastes are represented in the assemblage. The glass assemblage from Feature AG even more specifically reflects the activities of a brothel. Of 105 wine/liquor bottles recovered from AS III, 99 (94%) were for wine, five were for beer, and one was for whiskey. Hard liquor was generally not allowed in brothels because of its intoxicating properties. Wine was apparently drunk from tumblers more often than stemware (of 87 drinking vessels, 66 were tumblers, 12 were stemware, and the rest were firing glasses), perhaps because it was not drunk at the table. This practice might have been one of the ways that the rigid rules of middle-class etiquette were broken in the brothel setting. Men not only got to indulge in alcohol and sex, but they were also liberated from the ritual structure of dining that prevailed at home (Kasson 1987:138). Other drinking related artifacts were a bottle coaster and two matching punch cups. An especially large number of wide-mouth flacons (seven out of nine) suggest that they held brandied fruits in alcohol, although flacons were also used for olive oil, capers, or other delicacies. Any or all of their likely contents is consistent with the kinds of snacks that might be served in a brothel. There were also four mustard bottles and an olive oil bottle in the assemblage. Serving pieces included two decanters, three castors or cruets, and a sugar bowl or jam pot. Five perfume bottles, a nursing shield, a snuff bottle, a miniature flask, and three female urinals (Figure 5) were also found. The nursing shield would have protected a lactating mothers clothes from being stained with milk. It might also have been used to conceal from her customers that she was nursing a baby. The ideal middle-class wife in this period was a perfect mother (Davis 1981:31). The whore represented the opposite, and a confu-

sion of the two was surely not desirable. The urinals would have been used by women who were confined to bed probably with venereal disease. According to Sanger (1939:676), nearly half the prostitutes in New York at the time of his study (1858) admitted to having suffered from syphilis and undoubtedly many more had other similar problems. Only one of the 39 medicinal bottles recoveredembossed BRISTOLS//EXTRACT OF/SARSAPARILLA// BUFFALOhas been identified as specifically used for venereal disease, but other medicines (e.g., Henrys Calcined Magnesia, Essence of Peppermint) were meant for stomach distress of one sort or another. In fact, all of the identifiable patent medicine bottles in the deposit could have been used to soothe stomach distress (Bonasera 2000:385). According to Leigh Summerss recent book, Bound to Please (2001) the corset, which was an essential component of Victorian dress and would have been used to enhance a prostitutes sexual appeal, created a good deal of gastrointestinal distress (Summers 2001:111) as well as any number of other debilitating conditions (Summers 2001: Chapter 4). Conspicuously lacking from the assemblage of personal items associated with the brothel are contraceptive devices, which would have been available in the period and surely would have been used in a brothel where it was in a prostitutes best interest not to get pregnant. However, six copper cents (five large and one small) were recovered. The large ones had curiously early dates, two dating to 1808 and three to 1793. It has been suggested that women used Vaseline to glue a penny over the cervix (Laurie Wilkie 2003, pers. comm.). The copper supposedly made the vagina less conducive to sperm survival. The only other artifacts possibly relating to contraception were the ceramic pot labeled AMAILLE, s.d. Vinaigrier, presumably a douche, and a syringe that might have been used for the same purpose. Six glass lighting components were recovered, including two (a chamber lamp and a float lamp) that could be carried from one room to another. Additional lamp parts, such as finials, were made of metal. There was also a globe to a fire extinguisher (very thin glass that held fire retardant which was released when the globe was broken) and three decorative bird

REBECCA YAMINWealthy, Free, and Female


watering vessels. These types of vessels have previously only been recovered from middleclass sites in New York (Greenwich Mews in Manhattan, Geismar 1989; Atlantic Terminal in Brooklyn, Fitts and Yamin 1996). A group of sewing materials was found in the brothel deposit that suggests the contents of a sewing box. In addition to the usual hooks, eyes, and straight pins, there was a carved bone stiletto for putting decorative holes or patterning in embroidery; a delicate small thimble, possibly manufactured in Norway; a folding copper-alloy and wood ruler; and a thread winder made out of a bone lice comb that had its teeth removed. There were several tiny, double knob-shaped objects made out of bone that have been identified as the tops of lace bobbins (Rogers 1983: 214). These bobbins, which had a thin spindle and a carved shank (not recovered) around which the thread was wound, were weighted at the bottom with a ring of beads known as the spangle. A total of 17 multicolored beads (blue, black, clear, green) were recovered with the bone bobbin tips in Feature AG. Every type of bead mentioned in Gay Ann Rogerss (1983: 214) description of a spangle is represented in the assemblage:
They [the beads] strung on the spangle follow a certain pattern or variations on it. They may number from seven to nine although more or less is not unusual. The top bead on each side of the spangle is called simply that. The next two beads on each side are called square cut because of their shape. To obtain that shape, the bead is heated and then squared with the help of a file. Square cut beads are often red or white but they may also be dark blue, turquoise, amber, brown or green. The bottom bead, if it is a single bead, is usually much larger than the rest and decorated in some special way.

of choice. The assemblage also includes an unusual variety of decorative styles: a bowl decorated with thistle motifs, another with a rose on the left face of the bowl and a thistle on the right face, two with Masonic symbols, several marked A COGHILL/JACKSON ST (a Glasgow-based pipe maker who worked from 1826 to 1909), and an unusually large pipe decorated with diagonal lines and a botanical pattern along the mold seams. A total of 21 different pipe styles is represented, only two of which were found in other Five Points features. It is likely that some of these pipes were left behind by the outsiders who were the brothels clients, but other evidence (discussed below) suggests that many of them belonged to the women who lived there. Although there was no use-related wear on the 14 mouthpieces identified, many of the bowls (47.5%) showed particularly heavy charring and 27.3% showed moderate charring, indicating that the pipes had been used over some period of time. The heavily charred ones were generally those that were not heavily decorated, and not particularly expensive. These may have belonged to the resident prostitutes. Female smokers may not have worn down mouthpieces in the way that has been noted for their male counterparts, but they very well could have kept pipes in their rooms for recurrent use when they were not working. A Middle-Class Signature The fanciness of the ceramics, the presence of elegant items for entertaining (the punch cups, the wine coaster), and decorative items that could only be considered luxuries (the bird watering vessels), as well as the sheer quantity of material recovered from the brothel privy, suggest that its residents enjoyed a lifestyle that was considerably more comfortable than that of other residents in the neighborhood. Documentary data indicate that the citys brothels generally presented an image of luxury to their clientele. But this sort of luxury was not assumed to have characterized Five Points brothels. The staff at No. 12 Orange Street probably came from the working class, but the artifacts from Feature AG indicate that an effort was being made to present another image, one more conducive to attracting a middle-class clientele.

Other small finds from Feature AG included miscellaneous shoe parts, fan parts, a toothbrush, umbrella parts, combs and a hair brush, many (24) mirror fragments, eye glasses, and a thermometer. Only 43 of the 118 smoking pipes recovered in the brothel assemblage could be specifically identified. Twenty were the inexpensive fluted type, but none was the short-stemmed cutty style that has been associated with a working-class identity (Cook 1989). The relatively early date of the feature is probably a better explanation for their absence than any pattern



To place the assemblage from Feature AG in a class context, the tablewares and tea wares were compared to a contemporaneous deposit that has been indisputably associated with an upper middle-class household. In her study of womens roles in the creation of separate masculine and feminine spheres, Diana Wall (1994) used a number of archaeological assemblages recovered in New York City to explore the changes in tea wares and tablewares as they related to the ritualization of family meals. Among them was a privy (Feature 9) excavated on the Sullivan Street site (Salwen and Yamin 1990), which belonged to a Dr. Robson and his family. The Robsons moved

Figure 6. Style of motif on tablewares: Feature 9 (Robson) and Feature AG (brothel).

to Washington Square South in 1841, and the artifacts found in their privy probably represent household refuse that was deposited when they installed plumbing in the house several years later. Figure 6 compares percentages of tablewares classified by their decorative motifs from the Robson deposit with percentages of similarly decorated tablewares from Feature AG. The Feature 9 data were taken from Walls (1994: 204) Table E-4c in Appendix E. Tables 1 and 2 show the frequency of types of vessels from each of the sites. The terminus post quem and mean ceramic dates (1823 for the Robson deposit and 1824 for Feature AG) are comparable. The deposition date for Robson was 18491855; for AG it was 1843. Although the Robson household apparently continued to use inexpensive tablewares (shelledged and willow-decorated white wares), they

also had a set of Canton-style Chinese export porcelain (Figure 6). The number of broken vessels that got into the trash (two more than shell edge and two fewer than willow) suggests that the porcelain was used on an everyday basis, not only for entertaining. In contrast, the preponderance (42.8%) of shell-edged tablewares in the Feature AG deposit suggests that everyday meals were served on the least expensive dishes one could buy. The brothel also had Chinese export porcelain, including four dinner plates, but these plates do not appear to have belonged to a set. While there were considerably more vessels in the Feature AG deposit, a smaller proportion of them belonged to sets. The many different transfer-printed wares might have been used together, although it is more likely that they were used for snacks served away from the table, especially probable since so many of them were small plates (twifflers or muffins). The contrast between the upper middle-class and brothel assemblages is less pronounced for tea wares (Figure 7, Tables 3 and 4). The Robsons had several tea sets, possibly used in different contexts, as Wall (1994) has suggested. They owned Chinese export porcelain with overglaze decoration in at least three different patterns, a blue Fitzhugh set, and matching cups and saucers with floral printed and floral painted decoration. In the brothel, there were also matching tea wares in printed floral and landscape patterns, Japanese and Chinese landscapes printed on cups and saucers, and some vessels with luster decoration. But the most unusual and truly elegant tea service in the brothel was made of Chinese


Figure 7. Style of motif on tea wares: Feature 9 (Robson) and Feature AG (brothel).

REBECCA YAMINWealthy, Free, and Female



Vessel Type Plate Soup Twiffler Muffin Platter Boat Tureen Total Shell edged 3 1 4 2 1 11 Landscape Willow 9 1 1 2 1 14 Landscape CEP/Canton 2 3 2 4 1 12 Other CEP 2 2 7 11 Other Print 3 1 4 Plain 2 2 Total 19 6 6 17 3 1 2 54

CEP=Chinese export porcelain (Data from Wall 1994: Table E-4C)


Vessel Type Plate Soup Twiffler Muffin Platter Dish Tureen Total Shell edge bl./gr. 11 6 3 8 5 9 42 Landscape Willow 3 4 8 15 Landscape CEP/Canton 4 4 Other CEP 1 3 4 Other Print 5 2 7 10 1 25 Plain 2 1 2 2 1 8 Total 25 9 15 28 5 15 1 98

CEP=Chinese export porcelain


Vessel Type Teacup Saucer Tea bowl/Ir3 Tea bowl Coffee cup Pot Total
1 2

Landscape Chinese1 2 1 3

Overglaze Floral CEP2 3 1 1 5

Overglaze CEP 1 1 2 1 5

Landscape Printed 3 3 4 2 12

Floral Printed 4 8 1 13

Flora Painted 8 1 3 12

Lafayette 1 1

Total 10 25 5 9 1 1 51

soft paste porcelain Chinese export porcelain 3 Irish (Data from Wall 1994: Table E-4C)




Vessel Type Teacup Saucer Slop Bowl Coffee Cup Pot Tea caddy Total Landscape CEP 3 2 5 Overglaze Floral CEP 10 4 2 10 1 1 28 Overglaze CEP Landscape Printed 28 25 3 56 Floral Printed 19 6 3 28 Flora Painted 2 2 Lafayette 2 2 4 Total 62 41 8 10 1 1 123

CEP=Chinese export porcelain

export porcelain decorated in a floral spray pattern done with overglaze enamel painting and gilding. It exceeds the quality of anything owned by the Robsons and certainly anything owned by any other household investigated on Block 160. These elaborate tea wares suggest that, for the purpose of entertaining, the brothel put on an elegant face. Tea, coffee, and alcohol, as well as snacks served on small plates, were probably offered to clients rather than full meals. Although the time and context were different, Nel Kimballs (1970:89) memoir of her days as a prostitute in Saint Louis and New Orleans include a description of the kinds of snacks that were being served in her day: some little cakes, some good smoked ham, a bit of the best baked bread, [and] iced wine. The contrast between the brothels tablewares and tea wares suggests a distinction between the meals that were served to the resident prostitutes in private, when they were not working, and the public ones served in the company of clients. For private meals, they ate from dishes that were identical to those being used by their families in the nearby tenements, while in public they enjoyed the accoutrements of the middle class. A deposit associated with a tenement full of Irish workers on the other side of Block 160, for instance, included sets of shell-edged and willow-decorated tableware and a variety of transfer-printed tea wares (Brighton 2000b). The food remains from Feature AG also reflect duality. The cheapest cuts of meatpicnic hams, pork foreshank/hocksand quantities of inexpensive fish made up the largest portion of food remains from Feature AG. These are

the same cuts that were found associated with the Irish tenement (Milne and Crabtree 2000). As elsewhere on Block 160, oysters and hard shell clams were recovered in some quantity, but in this case, the oysters, at least, may have been served as aphrodisiacs and eaten in sexually suggestive ways, again in defiance of middle-class etiquette. The brothel deposit also included exotic foodsveal, soft-shell clams, coffeethat were not found elsewhere. Everyday fare appears to have resembled the common working-class diet; the exotics were not present in contemporary deposits associated with tenements on the block. Comparing Brothel Assemblages Donna Seifert (1991:93) has argued that differences between the life style of brothel households and working-class households relate to household composition, function, and income. Using data from a midden in a Washington, DC, neighborhood known as Hookers Division (for the Civil War general of the same name), Seifert compared functional artifact groups (after South) from the brothel with artifact groups from white and black working-class households. Although her brothel assemblage (a total of eight, with 184 artifacts) dates approximately 50 years later than the Feature AG assemblage, the key categories that Seifert associates with a brothel life style, i.e., the personal, tobacco, and clothing groups, are proportionately comparable to Feature AG (Figure 8). An exception is the activities group, which includes artifacts related to lighting. While Seifert included lamp glass in

REBECCA YAMINWealthy, Free, and Female


Figure 8. Percentages of functional groups related to prostitution, Hookers Division and Five Points.

this category, such fragments were classified as miscellaneous glass in the Feature AG analysis. This resulted in a considerably lower proportion of lighting artifacts than in the Hookers Division assemblage, but the number of lamp parts was relatively higher than from other features on Block 160 and included such unusual pieces as a float lamp, meant to be suspended from a string, and a chamber lamp. The proportion of smoking pipes for both the Hookers Division brothel and Feature AG is surprisingly small if the intuitive association of pipes with male clients is assumed. Seifert attributes the low number in her assemblage to the introduction of cigarettes. Feature AG requires another explanation. As noted above, the pipes themselves are a strange mixture of styles. What is constant is their association with sewing materials, and it appears likely

that many of the pipes in the AG assemblage belonged to the brothel residents rather than their clients. If the contents of the reception room were deposited in the privy before the contents of the individual chambers, the bottommost layers in the deposit (Nos. 10 and 11 on Figure 2) should include more tea ware and tableware than the overlying deposits (Nos. 58 on Figure 2), which were created when the upper portion of the privy fill was disturbed by the construction of a wall. Indeed, 58.5% of the tea ware and tableware came from the lowest deposit (No. 11) and another 24.8% came from the overlying layer (No.10). Conversely, 75% of the tobacco pipes came from the upper four layers (58) and another 22.9% came from No.10. It is these upper layers that include more things from individual boudoirs, the contents of which might have been thrown into the privy last. Almost all of the sewing materials were also found in the upper layers, and pipes and sewing materials were always found together (Table 5). Prostitutes at 12 Orange Street apparently passed their time sewing and smoking, a slightly different scenario than was suggested by the accoutrements of Jewetts room at Rosina Townsends fashionable brothel on the other side of Broadway. The smoking may have been a working-class girls indulgence in private, although the literature is silent on smoking behavior among 19th-century prostitutes. But while she may have clenched a clay pipe between her teeth like her sisters in the tenements, she didnt have to sew shirts at six cents apiece to make ends meet. Instead, she embroidered, made lace, and mended her own fancy clothes, a kind


Layer 5 6 7 8 10 11 No. of Pipes 23 18 12 36 27 2 No. of Sewing Items 13 13 2 17 9 1






of genteel sewing more usually associated with the upper classes. In this instance, the prostitutes at 12 Orange Street appear to have created their own duality, combining their working-class selves with their invented identities as appropriate companions for middle-class men. Conclusions Prostitution is inseparable from Five Points reputation as a sink of iniquity, but even its most ardent critics have appreciated a prostitutes style. George Foster (1990:95) found some prostitutes quite beautifully arrayed and in the latest Parisian style. Prostitutes not only knew how to make themselves attractive, they knew how to put on class, to manipulate their image to appeal to the men of means they wanted to attract. The residents of 12 Orange Street turned to commercial sex to make a living. It provided them with independence from their families and the opportunity to indulge in comforts that were unavailable in the tenements: fancy food, fancy clothes, better living conditions. They got to act middle class in public, although the archaeological data suggest that luxuries were limited to times when they were working. They lived dual lives, coming from one thing and portraying another. The assemblage recovered from an Orange Street brothel that was closed in 1843 reflects the dual identities of the prostitutes who lived and worked there. The cheapest dishes were used for everyday meals, while the most expensive were available for entertaining. The cheapest cuts of meat made up the largest proportion of food remains, but there were also expensive cuts not seen elsewhere in deposits associated with working-class inhabitants of Block 160. Heavily charred pipes, found consistently with sewing materials, suggest that the women may have spent daytime hours smoking and sewing doing what their mothers and sisters were doing in the tenementswhile at night they looked like the wives of their middle-class customers. They suffered stomach distress and venereal disease in private; for their publicvery possibly politicians from nearby City Hallthey served tea and wine in chambers bedecked with bird cages and fancy dishes decorated with scenes of war and patriotism that would appeal to male fantasies (unscratched plates decorated with

LaFayette contemplating the tomb of Franklin and with Commodore McDonnoughs Victory were among those recovered). At least one woman clung to her Irish identity by displaying a saucer with the image of Hibernia ringed with acorns. A German inscription on a medicine bottle suggests there also may have been German women at 12 Orange Street. Prostitutes dealt with the risks of the profession while enjoying its benefits. They attempted to avoid pregnancy (Hill 1993:235), but they also endured unwanted pregnancies and bore children. Whether the skeletal remains of two newborn infants (probably twins) and fragments of a third found in Feature AG were the results of infanticide (Crist, this volume) or stillbirth, they reflect personal tragedy. There is also evidence that some residents of the brothel were nurturing children and, in fact, imbuing them with values that have been associated with the middle class (Wall 1994). A childs cup inscribed with a name or other legend would have been an incentive to learn to read; a toy tea set would have helped a little girl learn the manners of a proper lady. The brothel at 12 Orange Street, like many others, was tucked between respectable stores and the homes of families with children, but it was also just a few doors from the intersection that was the center of Five Points infamy and around the corner from a street that was lined with brothels. District attorney indictments (District Attorney, New York City 18201843) and police court papers (Police Court, New York City 18201842) identified at least six addresses at which brothels were closed down on the Cross Street side of Block 160. Even so the brothel at No. 12 Orange did not conform to the image of an impoverished dive assumed to characterize the sex industry at Five Points. The women enjoyed material comforts not available in the tenements at least for the short time they remained employable. According to Gilfoyle (1992:62) the average age of prostitutes between 1840 and 1870 was 23. One wonders what happened to the women of 12 Orange Street after they were evicted in 1843. One wonders what happened to women who went to prison to get treated for syphilis, the only way to get treatment in New York. And one wonders what happened to their children. Being wealthy, free and female (Gilfoyle 1992:97) came at a price. The archaeological

REBECCA YAMINWealthy, Free, and Female


assemblage from Feature AG reveals a contrast between what was public and what was private in the experiences of the women at 12 Orange Street. It reveals positive and negative aspects of a profession that was the most lucrative and sometimes the only one open to working-class women who needed to support themselves. Their independence may have looked enviable to the men who were feeling squeezed by an increasingly competitive and exploitive economic system, but from the perspective of 12 Orange Street, the women were being squeezed by the same system. The artifacts reveal the conflicts in these workingwomens livesconflicts between exploitation and material well-being, between private degradation and public performance. ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
I have depended heavily on artifact analyses done by others and would like to thank them all: Mike Bonasera for glass, Steve Brighton for ceramics, Heather Griggs for sewing materials, Paul Reckner for smoking pipes, Claudia Milne and Pam Crabtree for faunal materials. Tom Crist, whose article is a companion to this one, analyzed the baby bones, and Reg Pitts found the indictment against John Donahue after Tim Gilfoyle told us about it. I am grateful to Donna Seifert for inviting me to participate in the symposium that led to this publication and to Diana Wall and Tim Gilfoyle for their thoughtful (and challenging) comments on that symposium. I am also grateful to Rebecca Allen for her careful editing and to the three anonymous reviewers who posed stimulating questions and provided additional insights into the data. No, we cannot be sure that every artifact at the bottom of Feature AG belonged to the brothel, but I take full responsibility for assuming that most of them did.


2000a The Evolution of Ceramic Production and Distribution as Viewed from the Five Points. In Tales of Five Points: Working-Class Life in Nineteenth-Century New York, Vol. I, Rebecca Yamin, editor, App. B. Report to Edwards and Kelcey Engineers, Inc., and General Services Administration, Region 2, from John Milner Associates, Inc., West Chester, PA. 2000b Prices Suit the Times: Shopping for Ceramics at the Five Points. In Tales of Five Points: Working-Class Life in Nineteenth-Century New York, Vol. II, Rebecca Yamin, editor, pp. 1130. Report to Edwards and Kelcey Engineers, Inc., and General Services Administration, Region 2, from John Milner Associates, Inc., West Chester, PA. 1998 The Murder of Helen Jewett, the Life and Death of a Prostitute in Nineteenth-Century New York. Alfred A. Knopf, New York, NY. 1989 Tobacco-Related Material and the Construction of Working-Class Culture. In Interdisciplinary Investigations of the Boott Mills, Lowell, Massachusetts, Vol. 3, The Boarding House System as a Way of Life, Mary C. Beaudry and Stephen A. Mrozowski, editors. Cultural Resource Management Study, 21:209230. Report to North Atlantic Regional Office, National Park Service, Boston, MA. 1981 Women, Race, and Class. Random House, New York, NY. 18201843 District Attorneys Indictments. City of New York, Law Department, Office of the District Attorney, Microfilm Collection, Department of Records and Information, Municipal Archives of the City of New York, 31 Chambers Street, New York, NY. 1996 The Archeology of Domesticity in Victorian Brooklyn: Phase II and III Excavations at the Atlantic Terminal Urban Renewal Area, Brooklyn, New York. Report to Atlantic Housing Corporation, from John Milner Associates, Inc., West Chester, PA. 1990 New York by Gas-Light and Other Urban Sketches. Edited and with an introduction by Stuart Blumin. University of California Press, Berkeley, CA. Originally published in 1850. 1989 History and Archaeology of the Greenwich Mews Site Greenwich Village, New York. CEQR No. 86-144M. Report to Greenwich Mews Associates, New York. 1987 Strumpets and Misogynists: Brothel Riots and the Transformation of Prostitution in Antebellum New York City. New York History, 68 (January):4565.






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1993 Their Sisters Keepers: Prostitution in New York City, 18301870. University of California Press, Berkeley. 1987 Rituals of Dining, Table Manners in Victorian America. In Dining in America 18501900, Kathryn Grover, editor, pp. 114141. University of Massachusetts Press, Amherst, and the Margaret Woodbury Strong Museum, Rochester, NY. 1970 Nell Kimball, Her Life as an American Madam by Herself. Stephen Longstreet, editor. The Macmillan Company, New York, NY. 1971 History and Class Consciousness, Studies in Marxist Dialectics. MIT Press, Cambridge, MA. 2000 Revealing Meals: Ethnicity, Economic Status, and Diet at the Five Points, 18001860. In Tales of Five Points: Working-Class Life in Nineteenth-Century New York, Vol. II, Rebecca Yamin, editor, pp. 130196. Report to Edwards and Kelcey Engineers, Inc., and General Services Administration, Region 2, from John Milner Associates, Inc., West Chester, PA. 18091845 New York City Tax Assessments for the Sixth Ward. Department of Records and Information, Municipal Archives of the City of New York, 31 Chambers Street, New York, NY. 18201842 New York City Police Office Minutes, Before Special Justices for Preserving the Peace. Microfilm Collection, Department of Records and Information, Municipal Archives of the City of New York, 31 Chambers Street, New York, NY. 1971 How The Other Half Lives, with a new preface by Charles A. Madison. Dover, New York. Reprinted from 1890 edition. 1983 An Illustrated History of Handwork Tools. Needlework Unlimited, Claremont, CA.

1990 The Archaeology and History of Six NineteenthCentury Lots: Sullivan Street, Greenwich Village, New York City. CEQR#83-225M. Report to New York University, from Anthropology Department, New York University. 1939 The History of Prostitution, Its Extent, Causes, and Effects Throughout the World, new edition. Eugenics Publishing Company, New York, NY. Originally published 1858. 1991 Within Sight [Site] of the White House: TheArchaeology of Working Women. Historical Archaeology, 25(4): 82108. 1987 City of Women: Sex, and Class in New York, 17891860. University of Chicago Press, Chicago, IL. 1843 District Attorneys Indictments, City of New York, Law Department, Office of the District Attorney, Microfilm Collection, Department of Records and Information, Municipal Archives of the City of New York, 31 Chambers Street, New York, NY. 2001 Bound to Please, A History of the Victorian Corset. Berg, Oxford, England. 1840 Census Enumeration of Population and Manufacturing for the Sixth Ward of the City of New York. Microfilm, National Archives, 201 Varick Street, New York, NY. 1994 The Archaeology of Gender, Separating the Spheres in Urban America. Plenum Press, New York, NY. 1996 Natal and Neolocal Estates: Contributions of the Female Lineage to the Household. Paper presented at the 29th Conference on Historical and Underwater Archaeology, Cincinnati, OH.



















Thomas A. Crist

Babies in the Privy: Prostitution, Infanticide, and Abortion in New York Citys Five Points District
Excavation of a privy shaft associated with a 19th-century tenement at 12 Orange Street in New York Citys Five Points district revealed the skeletal remains of two fullterm neonates and a fetus. The well-preserved neonatal remains, probably twins, represent either concealment of a stillbirth or neonaticide, a subtype of infanticide. The presence of the quickened fetus in a different privy layer reflects concealment of a miscarriage or an induced abortion. Historical documents indicate that city authorities closed a disorderly house or brothel located in the tenements cellar in 1843 due to neighbors complaints. Within this historical context, the discovery of the skeletal remains provides an opportunity to trace changes in American social and legal attitudes regarding infanticide, abortion, and prostitution and explore the difficult choices faced by workingwomen in New York City from the colonial period to the middle of the 19th century.

Introduction Archaeology opens windows on the past that have been clouded both by the passage of time and the deliberate attempts of many people to erase evidence of their actions, often nefarious and many times illegal, hoping they will be forever forgotten. The archaeological record brings the harsh light of discovery to bear on the results of these activities. It does not distinguish between artifacts and deposits related to illegal activities and those that resulted from otherwise innocuous behavior and cannot be edited for content. It is this constant that provides archaeologists the opportunity to investigate the full range of past human behavior, from the glorious to the atrocious. Such an opportunity was presented in 1993 when excavations of a privy associated with a 19th-century tenement in New York Citys infamous Five Points district revealed

the incomplete skeletal remains of two full-term infants, probably twins, found in the same stratum and a fetus aged 2022 weeks (4125 gestational months) discovered in a lower soil level. Mixed among faunal refuse in the privy that historical documents indicate was associated with a brothel closed by city authorities in 1843 (Yamin 2000; Cantwell and Wall 2001:216223; Yamin, this volume), these remains represent an extended metaphor of the difficult choices working-class women faced in Five Points and other urban centers during the middle 19th century. Even though it is impossible to determine conclusively whether the remains of the two newborns represent stillbirths, a case of infant abandonment, or infanticide, their discovery provides an opportunity to trace the changes in American social and legal attitudes regarding unwanted babies and infanticide from the colonial period to the middle of the 19th century. And while previous studies by historians have exhaustively explored the nature of contraception and abortion in historical America (Mohr 1978; Brodie 1994), this Five Points privy has yielded a tangible reflection of a miscarriage or abortion that occurred in an era when women recognized that giving birth could very likely result in their own deaths. Together, these fetal remains represent only the third such case from a privy reported in the archaeological literature but the first from such a tightly defined historical context. In 1973, the partial remains of a seven-month fetus were recovered along with bones of a newborn from a late-18th-century privy at Head House Square in Philadelphia, but the contents had been brought from elsewhere to fill in the abandoned privy and had no specific relationship to the lot in which it was located (Burnston 1982, 1997:53). Several bones from a six-month fetus were recovered from a privy associated with an 1870s restaurant and saloon in Minneapolis, but again the context was ill defined (McCarthy and Kirby 1997; McCarthy and Ward 2000). Despite this paucity of evidence in the archaeological record, infanticide is an issue of broad archaeological interest (Scott 1997).

Historical Archaeology, 2005, 39(1):1946. Permission to reprint required. Accepted for publication 11 November 2003.



Privies embody ideas about cleanliness, health, beauty, and privacy, as well as provide data on diet, socioeconomic status, [and] divisions between households. ... (Wheeler 2000: 1). In this case it is the privy behind 12 Orange Street (renamed Baxter Street in 1854) in Americas most notorious 19th-century slum that links infanticide and abortion not only to prostitution but also to the issues of womens health and their victimization and exploitation in the rapidly expanding urban manufacturing economy. It is a fact that the privy was associated with a multi-occupant tenement building and its refuse cannot be specifically associated with any one group of residents, prostitutes or otherwise. The artifact assemblage in the strata in which the fetal and newborn remains were found, however, differs significantly from those observed in other Five Points privies that have been archaeologically documented (Yamin, this volume). This, combined with documentary evidence that in 1843 a John Donohue was indicted for running a disorderly house in the cellar of 12 Orange Street, makes it very likely that prostitutes were associated with the strata and, by extension, the skeletal remains. Perhaps the presence of the multiple sets of remains themselves contributes to a brothel pattern. It is not the only explanation but the one that best fits the existing artifactual and documentary evidence. The question of who is responsible for placing the infants remains in the privy is another one entirely. The presence of multiple remains is difficult to explain, but the most likely of many equally plausible explanations is that one or more prostitutes working at the tenement used their privy to dispose of unwanted babies. Pregnancy was certainly an ever-present complication of prostitution, and women working as prostitutes faced an even higher risk of poor maternal health and miscarriage than did women of the middle and upper classes. What may be the most intriguing question is why, in an era of fairly reliable chemical and mechanical abortifacients, a woman would choose to carry twins to full term if they were unwanted. Of course, another person in the neighborhood, perhaps even a midwife or physician, may have used the privy as a relatively safe place to dispose of the remains of unwanted children; if discovered, the authorities might simply

assume that the prostitutes at the tenement were responsible. Whatever the actual circumstances, the most interesting aspect of the discoveries in the Five Points privy is the opportunity to explore the intersection between the socioeconomic plight of workingwomen in urban America and their health, access to health care, reproductive choices, and the laws that govern all of these issues. These are topics of critical importance to modern American society, yet their roots lie in the traditions of common law that accompanied the first British colonists to the New World in the 17th century. Historical Context Abortion and prostitution were two issues that served as lightning rods in the debate over privacy and womens sexual behavior in late-antebellum New York City (Mohr 1978; Brodie 1994; Srebnick 1995). In the decades between 1830 and 1860, rapidly changing economic patterns brought waves of young people to the large East Coast cities, increasing Americas urban population five times over its level in the 1820s. New York was particularly attractive to young women raised in the rural counties of the mid-Atlantic region due to its expanding manufacturing economy and the social opportunities embodied in its vast metropolitan expanse. Amy Srebnick (1995:59) notes that urban women during this period were caught in a society where new sexual codes emerged that disassociated female sexuality from bourgeois discourse and family life and associated it with venality, danger, and most of all working-class culture. As the gap between domestic and workingclass culture grew, the role of women in society changed as well. For instance, in the 1830s and 1840s the legal status of married women underwent a fundamental alteration in response to the new economic and social realities.
For centuries Anglo-American law had rendered wives dependent on and subservient to their husbands by denying them legal identities and by depriving them of control of property ... the complex of mid-nineteenth-century statues which endowed wives with independent legal personalities and gave them the right to own their own property obliterated the very foundations of the patriarchal family (Basch 1983:9).

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Prior to this period, coverture imposed serious procedural and substantive disabilities on the wife. She could neither sue or be sued in her own name, she was limited in making contracts and wills, and all of her personal property as well as the management of her real property went to her husband (Basch 1983:17). Beginning with Mississippi in 1839, the states began to pass statutes that allowed married women to own property they had brought to the marriage (Basch 1983:27). New York stood at the forefront of this movement: The boldest of the statutes, the New York Earnings Act of 1860, gave wives the right to sue and be sued and included their wages as part of their separate estate. ... By 1865 twenty-nine states had passed some form of married womens property law (Basch 1983:28). Unmarried women also began to experience and respond to the changes in American society in the 1830s and 1840s. Urban women working in New Yorks burgeoning service and manufacturing sectors earned their own incomes, meager though they were, and began to establish their own social milieu. Participants in this lessrestrained society ignored many of the conventions and restrictions bound up in respectable domestic culture and consequently ignited a backlash from those who linked social position and class with sexual identity. New Yorks workingwomen were subjected to the antebellum periods harshest labor practices and wages that were often inadequate for even the most basic of needs (Stansell 1987:105). In his diary, contemporary writer and lawyer George Templeton Strong noted that we have our Five Points ... our swarms of seamstresses to whom their utmost toil in monotonous daily drudgery gives only bare subsistence, a life barren of hope and of enjoyment ... . (quoted in Auchincloss 1989:138). Labor reformer Matthew Carey wrote in 1830: Their numbers and their wants are so great, and the competition so urgent, that they are wholly at the mercy of their employers (quoted in Stansell 1987:111). To make up for this untenable financial situation, many workingwomen supplemented their employment with casual prostitution. They often viewed prostitution as a part of everyday life: a contingency remote to the blessed, the strong and the fortunate, right around the corner for the weak and unlucky. ... neither a tragic

fate, as moralists viewed it ... nor an act of defiance, but a way of getting by (Stansell 1987:176), especially in light of the misfortunes that often accompanied urban womens lives (e.g., male desertion, widowhood, unemployment and underpayment, and unplanned pregnancies). For a seamstress earning $6.00 a month in 1850, a weeks unemployment could easily result in homelessness and starvation. Given these alternatives, prostitution flourished in the antebellum period as wages fell in response to the increasing number of unskilled laborers that entered New Yorks workforce. The expansion of New Yorks commercial sex industry began in the 1820s and was seen by contemporaries to have reached epidemic proportions in the 1830s and 1840s (Rosen 1982; Gilfoyle 1992; Hill 1993). At least 200 brothels operated in New York City in the 1820s, a figure that grew to more than 600 by the end of the Civil War (Gilfoyle 1992:31). Ranging from high-class parlors on Broadway to the bawdy houses scattered among the tenements, prostitution was a citywide phenomenon that was but one of the many vices in great supply in the Five Points district. Five Points was New Yorks, and perhaps Americas, most notorious slum: located in Lower Manhattan, east of City Hall, where Anthony Street crossed Orange and Cross Streets to form a five-cornered junction, it was described by contemporary writers as a sink of iniquity, hell of horrors, the great central ulcer of wretchedness, and the very rotting skeleton of civilization, from which emanates an inexhaustible pestilence that spreads its poisonous influence through every vein and artery of the whole social system (quoted in Hill 1993: 190). In 1873 Frank Leslies Illustrated Newspaper defined the roughly one-mile-square area as bounded by Canal Street, the Bowery, and Chatham, Pearl, and Centre streets (Anbinder 2001:17). Comprising primarily wooden twoand-a-half story buildings after 1813 when the citys Collect Pond was filled, by 1830 the districts sordid reputation was sealed as the center of prostitution shifted from the waterfront into Five Points (Anbinder 2001:19). Timothy Gilfoyle (1992:38) quotes 19th-century journalist George Foster as stating that in Five Points nearly every house and cellar [was] a groggery below and a brothel above.



By the 1840s, the citys sex trade was concentrated between City Hall Park and Five Points. In this area gangs mixed with sailors, dock workers, and streetwalkers in a swirling maelstrom of humanity viewed by the middle class and moral reformers alike as representing the depths of depravity toward which respectable society was being dragged. By 1850, the population density of Five Points was the highest in the city; by way of example, the Old Brewery, a ramshackle five-story tenement located in the heart of Five Points, was reportedly the home of more than 1,000 people crammed into the buildings myriad rooms, cellars, and subcellars (Stansell 1987: 47). Landlords subdivided older houses into multifamily dwellings and often encouraged prostitutes to lease rooms as a means of increasing their rental incomes (Gilfoyle 1992: 4245). Law enforcement officials rarely prosecuted landlords for renting their buildings or rooms as brothels, citing frequent acquittals and small penalties. In fact, the New York Court of Errors ruled, if a tenant was prevented from beneficial enjoyment of the property because a prostitute shared the same dwelling, the tenant was excused from payment of rent. ... but this decision only allowed the tenant to leave; it did not force the landlord to eliminate the prostitution (Gilfoyle 1992:336,n.10). Although by 1860 the area had lost its reputation as the citys center of wickedness, in the 1830s and 1840s Five Points was characterized by tenant-houses ... [where prostitutes] occupy suites of apartments interspersed with those of the respectable laboring classes, and frequently difficult to be distinguished from them (Citizens Association of New York quoted in Stansell 1987:174). Ruth Rosen (1982) notes that it was not uncommon for near-destitute residents to rent corners of their rooms to prostitutes. The concentration of brothels in Five Points was remarkable; Gilfoyle (1992:40) reports, on the single blockfront bounded by Anthony, Leonard, Orange, and Centre Streets, there were at least seventeen domiciles of sex in each of the four decades from 1820 to 1859. ... and an adjoining block usually contained ten or more similar establishments. Based on indictment records from the New York District Attorneys Office that historian Gilfoyle collected, Tyler Anbinder (2001:208) reports that a brothel was located

in nearly every building along the streets that radiated from the Five Points intersection. Along Orange Street, where the privy with the infants remains was located, brothel proprietors were identified in 13 of 17 residences situated in the one block between the Five Points intersection and Leonard Street (Anbinder 2001:208). Many among the genteel bourgeois viewed prostitution and its associated vices as dominant components of urban culture, at the center of which were the workingwomen who struggled in a paternalistic society that increasingly perceived them as degraded and unrespectable. Antebellum middle-class constructs defined the rightful role of women as homemakers and equated immorality with prostitution, and prostitution with poor women. Prostitutes served as symbols of and as scapegoats for the social uncertainty that accompanied the changing urban community in the mid-19th century (Hill 1993:113). Abortion and Infanticide in 19th-Century New York City The links between antebellum prostitution, abortion, and infanticide were easily forged by domestic society and propagated through the popular penny press, an innovation in urban print culture that began in New York in 1833. The penny press, so-named because each issue cost one cent, was aimed at a widespread, diverse audience and was hawked to the public by newsboys on the streets (Srebnick 1995:65). As social hysteria toward prostitution and abortion rose in the 1830s and 1840s, this new form of journalism fed into the fears of the middle class through its daily recitation of sensational crime stories, lurid tales of violence and sex, and a focus on the underside of urban life (Barth 1984). Gilfoyle (1992:133) notes, more than any other single institution, the penny press transformed the prostitute and abortionist into national celebrities. Then as now, the penny press exploited the publics taste for sex and violence through crime news that chronicled the daily life of the streets while exposing the private lives of each issues subjects for the vicarious pleasure of the papers readers. That immigrants, the working class, and prostitutes constituted such a large percentage of those whose struggles the papers salaciously recounted secured their place at the bottom of

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New Yorks social hierarchy, at least in the eyes of the bourgeoisie. Like prostitution, crime was perceived to be rampant in New York City in the 1830s and 1840s. Social disruption associated with the large number of immigrants flooding into the city and the changing economic base was thought the harbinger of a downward spiral into chaos, a feeling that reduced the tolerance of the citizenry and police alike toward prostitution and other public displays of immoral behavior (Barth 1984; Srebnick 1995). The family was undergoing rapid change as home and workplace were separated, new white-collar classes emerged, and the quest for economic opportunity led increasing numbers of young adults away from their families or communities of origin (Reed 1996:24). As a result, issues of sexual conduct became the main focal points for the moral reformers of the era, beginning with prostitution in the 1830s. By the early 1840s, abortion had replaced prostitution as the main topic of discourse regarding womens rights (Mohr 1978). The sensational trial of Ann Lohman in 1841 on charges of criminal abortion laid the foundation for more than a century and a half of rancorous debate on the issue, fusing concern about sexual conduct ... with anti-crime campaigns; vice and crime were regarded by many not only as intimately connected, but as constituting a cause-and-effect relationship (Srebnick 1995:95). New York Citys abortionists enjoyed their greatest prosperity from 1840 to 1871 (Gilfoyle 1992:135). Often irregular doctors (those outside the medical establishment) and midwives, abortionists served the needs of women from every social and economic station and were kept particularly busy by women of the upper middle strata (Gilfoyle 1992:135). Ann Lohman was among the most famous, and most prosperous, of New Yorks abortionists. Advertising her services under the name Madame Restelle, Lohman was convicted of criminal abortion in the 1841 trial, the first of many for her, and was sentenced to one year in prison, a term she never served (Browder 1988). Her case led to the enactment of the 1845 New York Abortion Act, which for the first time held the mother as well as the practitioner criminally liable of a misdemeanor for an abortion, regardless of the stage of

pregnancy. Prior to this act, abortionists were charged under New Yorks 1829 abortion statute, which was originally intended to protect women from quacks and unsafe medical practices (Hill 1993:237). Under the 1829 act, only the person performing the abortion was criminally liable (Means 1968; Mohr 1978; Brodie 1994). This earlier statute was one of the most restrictive in the country at the time and prohibited anyone, including a doctor, from attempting an abortion at any stage of pregnancy. An abortion performed after quickening, the point at which movement of the fetus is first discernible (usually at 18 to 20 weeks), was an act of manslaughter or, if the mother died, murder. The sentence for an abortionist convicted of performing the procedure prior to quickening was up to one year in prison and a fine not to exceed $500 (Means 1968). Until 1829, common law permitted abortions prior to quickening, the determination of which was left to the mother. But the relatively strict 1829 law also placed the determination of quickening in the hands of the mother, effectively making the law unenforceable except under extraordinary circumstances (Means 1968; Mohr 1978; Brodie 1994). Even the 1845 law was rarely used to prosecute abortionists or mothers, although it later served as the basis for moral reformers and physicians to attack the abortion industry in the decades after the Civil War, when public tolerance of abortion decreased and enforcement became stricter (Mohr 1978). Consequently, contemporary estimates in the 1850s placed the number of abortions at one in every four pregnancies (Lane 1997:119120). It was the concerted lobbying of physicians that resulted in successful campaigns to outlaw induced miscarriages at any stage of pregnancy. Victorian women did have many ways to procure miscarriage relatively easily and safely. ... There was little outcry about abortions being immoral or unethical until the American Medical Association (AMA) began a campaign to curb it in mid century (Brodie 1994:33). Beginning in the late 1850s, physicians led by Horatio Robinson Storer, publisher of the influential Journal of the Gynaecological Society of Boston, petitioned state legislatures to criminalize both abortion and contraception (Brodie 1994:266275). This movement coincided with physicians efforts to professionalize



medicine by controlling who could practice and the therapies that were allowable. Part of the motivation underlying these efforts was in response to the changing roles of women in the new market economy as physicians, exclusively male, sought to establish positions as both protectors of public health as well as moral arbiters (Reed 1996:26). The campaign against abortion was seen as a way to elevate their status among the general public by emphasizing their medical and scientific expertise in obstetrics and gynecology. ... The growing public concern with womens health and the increasingly open reliance of middle-class, married couples on abortion as a family limitation practice provided a focal issue (Brodie 1994:270). By 1880 induced abortion was illegal and non-physician practitioners were officially out of business. The AMAs postbellum campaign against abortion drew law into the social arena of womens reproductive choices. It also set up and sharpened divisions between men and women in the new American society:
The law, the most effective instrument of social control in a modern society, was in all of its manifestations male. It was created, shaped, disseminated, altered, and adjudicated by men. Men fashioned disabilities for women, subsequently devised ways of remedying them for women, and ultimately determined how far concessions to women should go. Few social institutions offer a clearer view of the way men delineated the boundaries of womens lives than the law (Basch 1983:225).

Men attempted to erect many of these boundaries around the independent, single, workingwomen who had begun to emerge as a social force in New York in the 1830s and 1840s. As with the issue of artificial contraception, Janet Brodie (1994:154155) notes:
The power to curtail pregnancies and thus to separate sexual intercourse from reproduction threatened to alter the relations between men and women, to diminish the power of husbands over their wives and of parents over their children, especially their daughters. ... Opponents feared that if fear of pregnancy were removed from sexual intercourse, wives sexual faithfulness could not be assured, legitimate children might not so easily be distinguished from illegitimate children ... offering women some power over reproduction raised in some minds the specter of illicit female sexual activity before and during marriage.

to loosen. This apparent paradox underscores the bourgeois view of domestic married life as the preferred goal for women, in opposition to the socioeconomic trends of the times that were reforming the relationships between the sexes and providing for women both increasing choices and greater risk of exploitation. In both the colonial and antebellum periods, police and prosecutors alike tended to overlook abortions unless the procedure was performed to cover up crimes of adultery or fornication or in cases where the mother died. Such a case competed with Lohmans abortion trial for sensational front-page headlines in 1841, when New York cigar girl Mary Cecilia Rogers was found dead in the Hudson River (Srebnick 1995). Rogerss death was very likely due to an abortion performed by one of Lohmans associates in Hoboken, New Jersey, although none of the suspects in her death was ever prosecuted. Together, Rogerss death and Lohmans trial initiated the movement that ultimately resulted in New Yorks 1845 abortion law, which was passed largely through the assistance of Assemblyman Frederick Mather, Rogerss distant cousin. Unlike the history of abortion and prostitution in New York City, both the intensity of social condemnation and the number of prosecutions for infanticide fell consistently from their peak in the 18th century to an almost imperceptible level in the 20th century (Lane 1997:190,234). Infanticide was one of the great scandals of the colonial period, to such a degree that both British and American midwives laws dating from the 17th century specifically mandated that all illegitimate births be reported to the authorities (Langer 1974; Piers 1978; Rose 1986). Social mores based on religious beliefs and strict inheritance laws made concealment of the death of an illegitimate birth a capital offense. Laws passed throughout the American colonies, especially in 17th-century New England, equated obscuring the death of a baby, whether born alive or not, with murder (Beck 1817; Klepp 1994:74; Lane 1997:29). Not surprisingly, these colonial statutes were rooted in English common law:
The legal heritage of most of America was distinctly English. Except for a few jurisdictions, the impress of the common law on American law was pervasive. Most states stipulated their adherence to the common law in early statutes or state constitutions. American law, moreover, was knitted to English law through a

In contrast, it was at this same time that laws governing the coverture of married women began

THOMAS A. CRISTBabies in the Privy shared group of precedents, statues, procedures, and theories (Basch 1983:16).


Among these early laws were proscriptions against infanticide. In early modern Europe, statutes tailored to the quick and unforgiving prosecution of unmarried women for [infanticide] appeared in 1624 in England and in 1690 in Scotland, and during the 17th and 18th centuries hundreds of single women in Scotland and England were prosecuted for this capital crime (Symonds 1997:6970). The common law statutes notwithstanding, social consensus regarding infanticide and subsequent penalties was not, however, uniform throughout the colonies and was strongly influenced by the prevalent religious beliefs. In Puritan New England, pregnancy outside of marriage was seen as evidence of sin and fornication, and concealment of an illegitimate birth was held as the most serious of offenses. During the late17th century the rate of indictments for infanticide in Massachusetts was more than double the rate in London, despite that citys much higher population and exorbitant level of illegitimacy (Lane 1997:56). In contrast, in colonial Pennsylvania there was little support to prosecute infanticide as murder. Between 1718 and 1775, eight women were convicted of concealment in Pennsylvania; of these, three were hanged (Klepp 1994:7475). Between 1779 and 1792, 15 women were charged with concealment, but only three were convicted, and two of these three women were subsequently pardoned. Over the period between 1682 and 1800, 73 women were prosecuted in Pennsylvania for concealment and infanticide; of these, 57 were tried, 24 convicted, and 8 executed (Klepp 1994:75,n.9). Over time, juries in Massachusetts eventually adopted the more humanitarian position prevalent in the southern colonies: of the 71 cases [of infanticide] brought in Massachusetts, which led all of North America, only 26 resulted in conviction, just two after 1740, with executions dropping in rough proportion (Lane 1997:56). In 1786 and again in 1790, the Pennsylvania concealment law was revised to require independent proof that the baby was born alive before the woman could be convicted. In 1794, the legislature again amended the law to require evidence that the woman purposely planned the childs death and reduced the sentence from

hanging to a maximum of five years in prison. After 1794, most of the women prosecuted in Pennsylvania for infanticide were tried for concealment rather than murder (Klepp 1994:76). In colonial New York, the illegal death of a fetus or infant was viewed, at least officially, as a very serious offense. In her paper on the discovery of fetal remains in a privy at Head House Square in Philadelphia, Sharon Burnston (1982) notes that New York Citys Common Council passed a law in 1716 that specifically addressed both abortion and infanticide. Quoting Claire Fox (1966:442445), Burnston (1982: 169) relates the sections of the Oath of a Mid Wife that defined their numerous duties:
you Shall not Suffer any Womans Child to be Murthered Maimed or Otherwise hurt as much as you say. ... you Shall not Give any Counsel or Administer any Herb Medicine or Potion or any other thing to any Woman being with Child whereby She Should Destroy or Miscarry of that she goeth withall before her time. ... you shall not Consent Agree Give or Keep Counsel that any Woman be Delivered secretly of that she goeth with but in the presence of Two or three Witnesses ready. ... you shall not Conceal the Birth of any Bastard Child within the Corporation of the City of New York but Shall forthwith upon Understanding thereof Give Knowledge of the same to the Mayor Recorder and Aldermen of the City of New York ... or [to the] Chief Magistrate of the Ward where such Bastard Child Shall be born.

New York Citys law was based on the Act Anent Child Murder passed in Scotland in 1690, which itself loosely followed a 1623 English statute. The 1690 act ordered juries to presume guilt, placed the burden of proof on the woman accused, and, most important, presumed that women could kill their own children. ... (Symonds 1997:128). The Scottish law was replaced in 1809 by another statute that downgraded the capital crime to one where the penalty was no more than two years of imprisonment (Symonds 1997:159). Clearly during the colonial period, a woman carrying an illegitimate baby not only risked social ostracism but also the full wrath of the law, as did those who might assist her. The colonial period was one of strict class, racial, and economic divisions where women had little personal freedom or few individual rights. Because of these hierarchical boundaries, an unmarried or unfaithful pregnant woman may very well have been driven to dispose of



her baby upon birth. The women accused of infanticide or concealment were almost always poor and unmarried and often servants or others living at the periphery of respectable society (Lane 1997:50). In colonial New England, 4 of 17 early homicide cases were prosecuted under these laws; every one of the four women was found guilty, and all but the one woman who died in jail were hanged (Lane 1997:50). Throughout the first half of the 19th century, the practicalities of urban life in a wage economy eroded the primary role religion had played as a social mediator and significantly affected the dynamics of personal relationships between men and women. In urban New York these changes resulted in much higher incidences of abortion, infanticide, and prostitution. Whereas in the colonial period few young people remained unmarried, and children were accepted as extra workers on the family farm, by the early-19th century city children were only financial liabilities until they could bring needed cash into the household (Lane 1997:119). Most men could support themselves and had little economic need to marry, but for most unskilled women it was virtually impossible to support themselves, let alone also care for and support an infant. In addition, as Roger Lane (1997:119) points out: there was no way for a poor woman safely to give up a live infant. ... Wet nursing was expensive, and before the invention of pasteurization, much later in the century, cows milk was slow death and the poorhouse the last stop for almost all foundlings admitted to it. Indeed, Marilynn Hill (1993:389, n.78) notes that few infants remanded to the Almshouse lived for more than a year. She recounts a poignant diary entry that prominent New Yorker Philip Hone wrote on 8 December 1838, when an abandoned infant was found on his doorstep during a dinner party that he was hosting for some of the citys most illustrious citizens (Hill 1993:389,n.78):
My feelings were strongly interested, and I felt inclined at first to take in and cherish the little stranger; but this was strongly opposed by the company, who urged, very properly, that in that case I would have twenty more such outlets to my benevolence. I reflected, moreover, that if the little urchin should turn out bad, he would prove a troublesome inmate; and if intelligent and good, by the time he became an object of my affection the rightful owners might come and take him away. So John Stotes was summoned, and sent off with the little wanderer to the almshouse.

Given the exceedingly high infant mortality rates for almshouse infants and children during the antebellum period, it is very unlikely that this little wanderer ever reached adulthood. In contrast to the colonial period, early Victorians generally adopted a compassionate view towards mothers accused of infanticide. This was due in part to recognition of the physical discomfort and fear of death that accompanied childbirth and the mental anguish these factors caused (Showalter 1980; Ward 2002). Secondly, in the new market-based society both prosecutors and judges alike formed a conception of the fallen woman as a subject heavily determined by social forces, the antithesis of the autonomous, rational masculine self (Ward 2002:251; also Anderson 1993). This view laid the foundation for modern interpretations regarding the stresses of pregnancy and awareness of postpartum depression that, in turn, have greatly influenced prosecutions for infanticide in which jurisprudence functions in a therapeutic manner rather than a punitive one to determine what is best for both the accused and society at large (Schwartz and Isser 2000:154).
One of the abiding features of criminal justice, from the Victorian era to the present, is that the resolution of this tension [between the two modes of subjectification of the accused] varies according to the gender of the defendant: courts are more likely to accept portrayals of women offenders as sad or mad rather than bad, and less inclined to treat them as rational, autonomous agents (Ward 2002:269).

While this perspective continues into modern society, another one arose in the wake of the postbellum antiabortion movement in which poor women were seen as the cause of their own wretched circumstances. This blame the victim mentality refused to recognize the social and economic forces that had trapped many women in the perilous underworld of the urban environment and consequently retarded various attempts to improve workingwomens lives until well into the 20th century. In a juristic irony, as the number of prosecutions for infanticide fell through the 19th century, the number of infants whose remains were found markedly increased. Lane (1997: 119) estimates that the number of infanticides that actually occurred during this period but were not reported to a reluctant justice system was larger by an order of magnitude than the

THOMAS A. CRISTBabies in the Privy


number of adult homicides. He notes that in Philadelphia during the 1860s, the reported annual total of dead infants found in vacant lots, privies, and gutters reached about one every other day (Lane 1997:119). Thousands more were reported as stillborn or having died of suffocation and other causes which the primitive methods of forensic investigation during that period could not identify. Cases of infanticide were also reported in the Five Points district. Interestingly, Anbinder (2001:224) describes two cases where the remains of unwanted babies were found in the 1840s, the same period from which the strata in the privy at 12 Orange Street date. The first case was in 1841 when passersby discovered the body of a newborn on Anthony Street. The second case was reported in the New York Herald in 1849 and concerned the remains of a newborn found in a sink in a house at 6 Doyer Street, two blocks east of Orange Street. In the latter case police arrested Eliza Rafferty, a 30year-old Irish woman who told them the baby was stillborn. The coroner, however, ruled that the infant had been strangled. Anbinder (2001: 476, n.41) notes that the results of the case were never published and that no indictment was apparently brought against Rafferty for the death of her baby. With an increasing number of states outlawing abortion after the Civil War, infanticide rates for Americas urban centers at least maintained their antebellum levels and probably swelled. Lane (1997:309310) notes, the biggest wild card in counting urban homicides is infanticide ... the dark figure for [which] was surely far higher than the official one. ... If the number of infanticides were actually counted [the antebellum] murder rate might well be higher, even much higher, then [the modern murder rate]. The urban infanticide rate began to decline in the early-20th century as the result of two major developments, one technological and one social, that greatly assisted single and poor pregnant women (Lane 1997:190). The first was invention of the pasteurization process, which significantly increased the safety of the nations milk supply and gave infants left at the almshouses their first real chance for survival. The second was the growing practice of women giving birth in hospitals or under professional physicians supervision (Starr 1982:4950; Lane 1997:

190), which reduced the opportunities for both the concealment of pregnancies and commitment of the act itself. By the 1920s, indictments for infanticide had all but disappeared, the result of better living standards, increased wages, and greater access to health care for women of all economic levels. Pressure on unwed mothers during this period was also eased by an increase in the number of adoptions, especially of girls, as the news reports began to highlight high-profile adoptions by celebrities like Babe Ruth and George Burns and Gracie Allen (Lane 1997:235). While sex was one of the primary arbiters of behavioral norms and social value, race governed every facet of antebellum life. On New York Citys socioeconomic scale, African Americans fell below even the most recent immigrants, prohibited from almost all occupations except menial labor (Curry 1981:1623; Hill 1993: 55). African American women toiled as laundresses or street peddlers, among the only paid employment they could find (Stansell 1987:13). Yet, given even these dire economic conditions, according to official records and contemporary city guides, apparently only a small number of African American women turned to prostitution. While several African American brothels operated in the city, and Gilfoyle (1992:41) reports that the spatial boundaries typical of black prostitution later in the century were absent in antebellum New York, the very low percentage of African American women arrested for prostitution most likely reflects their limited numbers in the commercial sex industry (Hill 1993:56). This low representation is probably due to both the small percentage of the citys population that African Americans comprised and the context of racism and crime in antebellum New York City. Population statistics indicate that in 1825 African Americans comprised 7.5% of New York Citys population, but by 1860 they accounted for only 1.5% (Curry 1981:45; Hill 1993:55). But it was not merely due to the small number of African American women who lived in New York City that so few were prostitutes. Hill (1993:56) argues that black women may have avoided prostitution more than white women because they were discriminated against by clients, or because they feared racially motivated abuse by customers as well as legal harassment and reprisals by the police and courts.



It is also possible that, in actuality, there were many more African American prostitutes than were reported. Given the universal racism of the antebellum period, New York officials simply may have ignored much of the African American sex trade unless it resulted in blatant public disturbance (Hill 1993:57). Gilfoyle (1992:41) reports that while many African American brothels in Five Points catered to an exclusively African American clientele, many others accommodated an integrated mix of both patrons and workers. In general, most of the historical data regarding population figures, occupations, mortality and homicide rates, and other government vital statistics reflect only the information reported for whites, with little data collected from African Americans and other minority groups. Police often ignored crime in the African American community unless it involved white individuals, so little contemporary data on this aspect of African American life was collected (Lane 1997:150). This is true of homicides as well as of abortions and certainly of infanticides. From their place at the bottom of the citys social and economic system, African American women struggled to survive along with their white female counterparts in the wage economy of antebellum New York. It is unclear whether the abortion and infanticide rates for the antebellum African American community met or exceeded those for the workingwomen of European descent, but, as Lane (1997:234) points out, African Americans were sympathetic to the plight of single mothers and had for many generations followed a tradition of informal adoption that may have given pregnant African American women an option more preferable than either abortion or infanticide. Antebellum Infant Mortality Early-19th-century New York City was characterized by the rapid increase of tenement housing in response to the influx of immigrants drawn to the city by its emerging manufacturing economy. Concomitant with this increase in population density was a marked upsurge in both the prevalence of infectious disease and infant mortality rates, largely the results of poor sanitation and polluted water and food supplies. While infant mortality in the colo-

nial United States was always excessive, rates during the first half of the 19th century were exceedingly high for both African Americans and European-descended populations, although in most urban areas African American rates were disproportionately greater. Newborns and young children suffered the highest mortality rates in all of Americas cities. For example, a contemporary study found that between 1807 and 1827 in Philadelphia 47% of childrens deaths occurred before the age of one year, while 81% of all childhood deaths occurred before the age of five years (Emerson 1827). These figures do not include stillbirths or fetal deaths. Nationally, deaths of children under 10 years of age accounted for 40%50% of total mortality for the whole American population prior to 1850 (Curry 1981:143). Even this high estimate is derived from incomplete mortality schedules that do not reflect the actual number of deaths that occurred, particularly among minority groups. Official government census data also reflect the steadily increasing childhood mortality that marked the first half of the 19th century. In 1820 in New York City, children under 14 years of age comprised 37.4% of the white population and 26.7% of free persons of color (Curry 1981:256). By 1840, these figures had dropped to 26% and 20%, respectively. By 1850, these rates had fallen even further, to 23.6% and 18.8%, respectively. Between 1820 and 1850, the number of living children in the white population fell 37%, while those in the free African-American population fell 30%. Although historical mortality records are typically incomplete and often classify specific diseases under broad headings, the prevalence of the diseases that dominated the 19th century can be estimated from the existing documentation. The primary causes of death for children during this period were dysentery, cholera, and numerous other bowel disorders and infections related to poor sanitation and nutritional inadequacies. Coroners often classified these diseases according to symptoms rather than etiologies and did not report specific differential diagnoses. Although tuberculosis (then known as consumption) was the primary cause of death for adults in America throughout the 19th century, the majority of infant and childhood deaths were due to the unsanitary living conditions that

THOMAS A. CRISTBabies in the Privy


characterized Americas cities prior to the advent of 20th-century health reforms. Insights into antebellum infant mortality and illegitimate births are provided through an uncommonly direct survey of prostitution in New York City during the 1850s. Under the direction of Dr. William Sanger, resident physician at the City Almshouse at Blackwells Island, police officers administered a questionnaire among the prostitutes of the city in 1855 (Sanger 1939). Among the questions asked were: If you have had children, how many?; Were these children born in wedlock?; and Are these children living or dead? Published in 1858, the answers to these questions illustrate the often-wretched conditions into which babies were born in the antebellum metropolis and the factors that put prostitutes at high risk for poor maternal health. The questionnaire data collected by Sanger indicate that of every hundred children borne by women who [were] prostitutes ... fifty-seven were the fruit of promiscuous intercourse (Sanger 1939:480). The excessive mortality among this class of children was demonstrated through the second question, the results of which indicate that of 1,917 children born to prostitutes (including 1,090 illegitimate births), 62% died. Using comparative data from the New York State Census of 1855 and the City Inspectors reports of 1854, 1855, and 1856, Sanger (1939:481) calculated that the infant mortality rate for the general population of New York City was 18.5%. The infant mortality rate among prostitutes was almost four times that for the general population between 1854 and 1856. To underscore the excessive rate of infant mortality, Sanger (1939:481) continued: This calculation must be taken in connection with the cases of abortion produced by extraneous means, not admitted to in the replies of the interrogatories, and which will probably never be known. ... It is impossible to doubt that these are far more frequent than recorded in the tables. When analyzed by whether the mother was single, married, or widowed, the infant mortality rate for children of single women who were prostitutes was over 14% greater than that for the other two categories (Sanger 1939: 481). Sangers data also indicated that between 1854 and 1856 premature births and stillbirths together accounted for 12.5% of the births reported for New York City. Applying the

same rate to births among prostitutes, Sanger (1939:482) calculated that the infant mortality rate for the children of prostitutes presented features which place it almost on a level with the infanticide of some Eastern nations, where the practice, especially involving infant girls, remained a common cultural tradition. Clinical Determination of Newborn Viability When undocumented fetal or neonatal remains are discovered, law enforcement authorities employ pathologists and occasionally physical anthropologists to determine if the remains represent an illegal abortion, a stillborn baby, or a baby that died as the result of willful neglect or abandonment (infanticide or neonaticide). In modern medicolegal terms, the loss of a fetus up to 28 weeks old is termed an abortion or miscarriage, even though a fetus of 26 weeks may survive with intensive hospital care (Mason 1989). After 28 weeks (24 weeks in the United Kingdom) the death may be classified as a premature birth or stillbirth (Scheuer and Black 2000). A stillbirth is defined in most jurisdictions as a fetus that has survived to near full term but is not alive when delivered. Under most legal codes, a child does not have a separate existence nor become a legal person holding civil and personal rights until he or she is completely free from the mothers body (Knight 1997:121). Until this separate existence is obtained, the infant cannot be the victim of murder or infanticide. In the case of a stillbirth, the infant never lived in the legal sense of the term and charges of murder or infanticide cannot be brought against the mother. An abortion may be natural, therapeutic, or criminal. About 20% of pregnancies fail naturally (Knight 1997:115), while therapeutic abortions are performed to save the life of the mother or if there is substantial risk that, if born, the child would suffer from serious mental or physical abnormalities. A legal abortion is one conducted within the laws of the country by a registered medical practitioner in a hospital or regulated health-care facility. Such procedures usually require only the pregnant womans consent, unless the woman is a minor. Infanticide is defined as parental killing of an infant that is between one day and 12 months



old at time of death (Resnick 1970; Mason 1989). Neonaticide is a subtype of infanticide and represents the killing of a newborn within 24 hours of birth (Silva et al. 1998). Both the legal and psychiatric professions have focused on motivational factors within individual perpetrators in order to understand the basic psychological reasons that underlie infanticide and neonaticide. Among the four motivational factors for infanticide identified by Phillip Resnick (1969, 1970) is the altruistic parental motive, in which the parent believes that death will relieve the infant of real or imagined suffering. In unwanted infanticide, the victims death results from a parental lack of desire for the pregnancy or the newborn. These are the two most likely motives for infanticide among workingwomen in antebellum New York City. The other two (killing under the influence of active psychotic processes and accidental infanticide in the absence of homicidal intent) represent relatively small percentages of the causes for documented intentional infant deaths. A new system to classify the psychological causes for infanticide and neonaticide proposed by J. Arturo Silva and colleagues (1998) places more emphasis on the cultural and environmental factors (the psychosociocultural aspects) that underlie the practice, conceptualizing specific behaviors within their cultural matrix and addressing the external stressors, such as economic conditions and religious beliefs, that affect and direct human behavior. From this perspective, infanticide can be clearly linked to the overwhelming economic and social pressures exerted on financially distressed women struggling to survive on the periphery of respectable society. Clinically, the determination of whether a baby was stillborn or had died from neglect or abandonment is based on the viability of the fetus at birth. As modern medicine has evolved so has the definition of viability, but in the late-18th and early-19th centuries it was based on anecdotal rather than medical evidence (Williams 1957; Hoffer and Hull 1981; Weir 1984; Knight 1997). The criteria for viability included a test to determine whether the lungs of the infant floated when immersed in water, which was thought to demonstrate that the baby had drawn at least one breath before expiration. It has since been proven that this analysis has little value because biochemical processes associated with postmortem

decomposition may also introduce air into the lungs of a deceased fetus or neonate. Additionally, coroners searched for dermal bruises that might indicate circulation, and therefore cardiac function, had occurred after delivery. Since numerous physiological and taphonomic factors may also obscure these criteria, even today the determination of viability is based on the specific circumstances of each case. Almost 50 years ago, Cyril Polsons (1955: 403) The Essentials of Forensic Medicine stated, proof of live-birth, an essential ingredient of infanticide, is notoriously difficult and for this reason alone the charge is likely to fail. Even the most modern advances in forensic technology have not served to change that fact; at present, the only absolute evidence that a baby survived after birth is the presence of extraneous material in the babys digestive tract or stomach (Knight 1997:123). This could include saliva or milk in the stomach or the gastrointestinal tract. Under current American legal guidelines, when the remains of a full-term fetus are recovered, medical examiners assume the baby was viable if there are no medical or physiological reasons to preclude spontaneous breathing. A fetus is now considered viable if development had progressed past 26 weeks in utero, at which stage more than 50% of deliveries survive (Knight 1997:122125). Between 21 and 26 weeks survival is problematic, and under 21 weeks a fetus is insufficiently developed to survive independently. In contrast, historical abortion and infant concealment laws defined quickening, the first movement of the fetus that begins around 18 to 20 weeks, as the threshold that determined whether an abortion was legal or criminal. The cause of death in the vast majority of infanticide cases is mechanical asphyxia through smothering, strangulation, or choking (Knight 1997; DiMaio and DiMaio 2001). Most of these modes of death leave little or no physical traces and are virtually impossible to identify in dry skeletal remains. Some traumatic deaths result in cranial fractures, particularly of the frontals and parietals (Hobbs 1984; Crist et al. 1996). These fractures may accompany suffocation and other types of violent action. Weapons are less commonly involved. It is rare for infants to be deliberately stabbed or shot, and in most reported instances these types of deaths are ruled accidental.

THOMAS A. CRISTBabies in the Privy


Analysis of Fetal and Infant Skeletal Remains When the skeleton of an infant is recovered within the forensic context, physical anthropologists attempt to estimate the age of the individual and then examine the remains for a possible cause of death. These determinations are particularly important for legal purposes, as penalties vary significantly for illegal abortions, child abuse, negligence and accidental deaths, the different degrees of murder, and abandonment. Soft tissue and skeletal lesions in suspected child abuse cases must be carefully documented since other, noncriminal, factors may also create lesions that mimic those of abuse (Snow and Luke 1970; Duhaime et al. 1987; Crist et al. 1996). Since fetal and full-term cranial bones look very different from those in the adult skull, pathologists and other criminal investigators may misinterpret unfused sutures and normal skeletal variants as evidence of trauma. At present, there are no completely accurate, commonly accepted methods for determining the sex or racial ancestry of fetal and infant remains through skeletal examination (Byers 2002:189). Some research does suggest that the morphology of the fetal and neonate ilium varies by sex (Boucher 1957; Weaver 1980, 1986; Mittler and Sheridan 1992), but methods based on this bone have not yet been proven consistently accurate. More recent research on a documented historic-period sample of 61 children under 11 years of age (including 16 infants between birth and 6 months old) suggests that morphological features of both the mandible and ilium are sexually dimorphic (Schutkowski 1993). Using these features, the sex of children under 5 years old was correctly determined for 70%90% of the remains included in the study when assessed using these two bones. The determination of the age at death is much more precise. Estimating the age at death from immature remains consists of establishing the physiological age of the skeleton and then correlating that result with chronological or gestational age (Ubelaker 1987; Huxley and Angevine 1998; Byers 2002). Anthropologists employ a range of methods to estimate physiological age, depending on which skeletal elements are present and their degree of

preservation. These include documenting the appearance of ossification centers, taking measurements of long bone lengths, and assessing the calcification and development of both the deciduous and permanent dentitions (Ubelaker 1987; Byers 2002). With fetal remains, body length and other regression formulae based on a large series of skeletal measurements are used (Fazekas and Ksa 1978; Ksa 1986; Scheuer and Black 2000). Because males and females differ in their rates of skeletal development, each aging technique includes standard deviations designed to reflect the biological variation inherent in chronological aging. Anthropologists report the age range of fetal and neonate remains in terms of 28-day lunar months (Fazekas and Ksa 1978; Ksa 1986; Scheuer and Black 2000), which are also given in chronological or gestational ages (based on a 31.1-day solar calendar) by many obstetric and gynecological references (Huxley and Angevine 1998). Clinically, pregnancy is considered to last 266 days from the date of conception or 280 days (10 lunar months or 9 gestational months) from the first day of the last menstrual period. Gestational age is divided into three stages (Avery 1999): preterm (less than 259 days or 37 weeks from the first day of the last menstrual period), term (259 to 286 days inclusive), and post-term (287 or more days or 41 or more weeks). Forensic anthropologists always report an age range rather than a specific age to reflect human variation and the potential statistical errors of the aging techniques. Examination of the remains for lesions related to abnormal development, perimortem trauma, or disease completes the anthropological autopsy. Since most acute diseases do not affect the skeleton, the vast majority of skeletonized fetal and newborn remains do not present pathologic lesions. More frequently, immature skeletal remains present lesions resulting from trauma. These may include cranial fractures or fractures of the long bones, clavicles, or ribs. In general, it is rare that a specific cause of death can be ascertained from skeletonized fetal or infant remains. Neonatal and Fetal Remains from 12 Orange Street, Five Points The well-preserved skeletal remains of two full-term neonates and two bones from a fetus



were recovered from a stone-lined privy shaft at Block 160, Excavation Unit 2, during excavations conducted by archaeologists from John Milner Associates, Inc. (JMA), prior to construction of a new federal courthouse at Foley Square in Lower Manhattan (Yamin 2000; Cantwell and Wall 2001:216223; Yamin, this volume). The privy was located in Lot 43 behind a tenement building that had formerly stood at 12 Orange Street (renamed Baxter Street in 1854), one of the streets that created the infamous Five Points intersection (Figure 1 in Yamin, this volume). This privy (Feature AG) included deposits with a terminus post quem (TPQ) of 1840, as indicated by the ceramic and glass artifacts found in the privys primary soil layers. Historical documents indicate that a brothel operated in the cellar of the tenement at 12 Orange Street until July 1843, when neighbors complaints prompted authorities to shut it down. The privy shaft was subsequently disturbed by construction of a stone wall in the early 1890s. The first individual recovered from the privy shaft (Neonate 1) was almost complete, including six deciduous tooth crowns, most of the left ribs, and most of the unfused vertebrae. The second full-term infant (Neonate 2) consisted of only cranial elements and portions of the upper limbs. The third individual, a fetus aged 2022 weeks (4125 gestational months), was represented by a right humerus and a left scapula, both of which were partially intact. Disturbance to the privy shaft disarranged the skeletal remains of both neonates, relocating most of the first infants remains and some bones from the second to higher stratigraphic levels. Portions of both skeletons were therefore recovered from strata designated with four different catalog numbers. Table 1 provides

provenience data for each of the two neonates. The fetal remains were recovered from Catalog Unit 980, a small lens of primary privy deposits located along the privys wall. The TPQ for this unit is 1840; the TPQ for the fill overlying the units in which the skeletal remains were recovered is 1892. Data Collection and Analytical Methods The respectful and dignified treatment of the remains from the Orange Street privy was of primary concern throughout the project. All of the individual bones were cleaned and stabilized using an anhydrous alcohol solution and soft brushes under the direction of archaeological conservator Gary S. McGowan. The remains were repackaged individually in 4-mm-gauge polyethylene bags and stored in buffered fiberboard archival containers. Examination and analysis of the remains began by laying out each bone in anatomical position on a table lined with inert polyethylene foam (Ethafoam) to reduce the potential for breakage and to protect the remains from abrasion during examination. Each bone was then identified, and bones were grouped together by individual. The use of the anatomical position facilitates identification of each skeletal component and determination of the minimum number of individuals represented. It also allows patterns of trauma and pathology to be discerned. The skeletal inventory was coded using standardized forms from Jane Buikstra and Douglass Ubelaker (1994). Subsequent to identification, each bone and tooth was macroscopically and microscopically examined to document morphological


Catalog Number 973 981 984 985 Neonate 1 Left tibia, left fibula, and left radius Left ulna and left femur Cranium, mandible, and all postcranial elements except those from catalog units 973 and 984 Neonate 2 Cranium, mandible, left and right humeri, left ulna, left radius, and one left rib Right clavicle

THOMAS A. CRISTBabies in the Privy


characteristics, developmental anomalies, lesions, and indications of trauma. The degree of erosion and fragmentation of each bone was also noted and recorded. Erosion refers to complete destruction of bony tissue and is not reversible. Erosion is particularly common at the epiphyseal ends of long bones and on the surfaces of the cranium. Fragmentation denotes the breakage of bones into smaller pieces without destruction of the bone tissue comprising the fragments. Fragmentation is reversible with the use of consolidants. No attempts were made to consolidate any of the remains from the privy at Block 160. Additionally, no invasive sampling of the remains was undertaken, including sampling for DNA analysis. Osteological lesions were classified as representing either antemortem, perimortem, or postmortem events. Antemortem lesions are those that formed while the individual was alive and may include partially or completely healed fractures, healed periosteal infections, or modifications of specific bones resulting from repetitive motions. Perimortem lesions are those that occurred around the time of death and therefore may be related to the cause or manner of death. Perimortem lesions may exhibit partial healing. Postmortem damage refers to lesions that resulted from taphonomic processes after deposition as well as damage that may have occurred during excavation or subsequent laboratory processing. Lesions were classified based on assessments of fracture patterns, degree of erosion on fractured edges, and color differences between fractured and periosteal surfaces (following Micozzi [1991]; Ubelaker and Adams [1995]; and Haglund and Sorg [1997]). Pathologic lesions were recorded as either infectious or traumatic in origin. Infectious (periosteal) lesions are defined as areas of abnormal proliferative growth found on the external surfaces of long bones and the ectocranial and endocranial surfaces. Periosteal reactions were recorded by location, extent of involvement, and degree of remodeling according to terminology suggested by the Paleopathology Association (1991), Buikstra and Ubelaker (1994), and Ortner (1994). Reactions were graded as mild, moderate, or severe and reported as either remodeled (healed) or unremodeled (unhealed). When scoring pathologic lesions and other anomalies, the term not observable was

used to indicate that a particular bone was either absent or not sufficiently preserved for assessment. It was also used to indicate that a category of analysis could not be performed on an individual due to extensive fragmentation or erosion of the required skeletal components. The term none was used to document the incidence where a particular category of pathology could be adequately assessed and no lesions were observed. The term indeterminate was used to indicate that the requisite skeletal components were sufficiently intact for assessment but techniques were unavailable for use, as in the determination of sex for immature individuals. The use of indeterminate assumes that the potential exists for these areas to be addressed pending further research. Subsequent to the initial examination, each bone was measured using steel sliding calipers following standardized anthropometric guidelines for immature human remains (Fazekas and Ksa 1978; Buikstra and Ubelaker 1994). Each tooth crown was identified using the standard Universal System of tooth charting (adult teeth numbered 132; deciduous teeth lettered at). The age range of each individual was then estimated by assessing the bone measurements and degree of dental development using comparative data included in Moorrees et al. (1963a, 1963b), Fazekas and Ksa (1978), and Ubelaker (1989). Since the mandibles from both neonates were present, sex determination was based on comparative data regarding the sexual dimorphism of immature mandibles reported by Holger Schutkowski (1993). Results: The Neonates The neonatal skeletal remains from 12 Orange Street represent two distinct immature individuals. Development of the cranial elements and long bones (Figures 1 and 2) indicates that both sets of remains represent full-term individuals who died near the time of birth. Their viability at birth cannot be determined from the remains, although both individuals appear to have developed normally. The remains of both neonates were partially commingled in the privy shaft (Table 1). Except for the right clavicle, Catalog Unit 973 contained the cranial and postcranial remains from Neonate 2 and the left radius and portions



Figure 1. Posterior and inferior aspects of unfused occipitals from Neonate 1 (at left) and Neonate 2.

Figure 2. Anterior aspect of humeri from Neonate 1 (at left) and Neonate 2.

of the left lower limb from Neonate 1. Catalog Unit 985, a component of the primary privy deposit in which both neonates were discarded (Figure 2 in Yamin, this volume), contained the majority of remains from Neonate 1 and had no skeletal elements associated with the second infant. It is possible that ribs and unfused

vertebral portions recovered from Catalog Unit 985 are associated with both individuals; however, the subsequent disturbance of the original stratigraphic units precludes assignment of the separate elements to a specific individual. Since all of these axial components were recovered from Catalog Unit 985, they are most likely associated with Neonate 1. Catalog Unit 973 was a component of an upper stratigraphic layer in the privy shaft and included disturbed deposits that had been shoveled back into the privy during construction of the intrusive wall in the 1890s. Deposits in Catalog Unit 973 had been originally mixed with those from Catalog Unit 985, found at a greater depth. Disturbance in the 1890s most likely accounts for the lack of skeletal components from Neonate 2 and probably also explains why only three bones from Neonate 1 were found in the disturbed fill that comprised Catalog Unit 973. Table 2 presents the inventory of skeletal remains from both neonates. All skeletal elements are intact and in excellent condition, with minimal fragmentation and little erosion. In addition to skeletal remains, Neonate 1 also included six deciduous tooth crowns (Table 3). These were found in situ in the maxillary and mandibular crypts. The remaining crowns were most likely lost postmortem. No tooth crowns were recovered with the second individual. As discussed above, physical anthropologists have yet to adopt noninvasive methods that consistently indicate the sex and ancestry of immature human remains. Among the most promising research on sex determination is that conducted by Schutkowski (1993). Using Schutkowskis methods, the shapes of the two mandibles are distinctly different (Figure 3), suggesting that the sex of Neonate 1 was different than that of Neonate 2. The mandible associated with Neonate 1 presents (1) a prominent chin with elevated structures on either side of the midsagittal plane, (2) a U-shaped dental arcade, and (3) buttressing and eversion of the horizontal rami and gonial angles. According to Schutkowski (1993), these are all features characteristic of immature males. The mandible from Neonate 2 presents none of these features, and its shape is markedly parabolic compared to the mandible from Neonate 1 (Figure 3). This suggests that Neonate 2 was female.

THOMAS A. CRISTBabies in the Privy



Bone Skull Left frontal Right frontal Left parietal Right parietal Left temporal Right temporal Occipital squamous Occipital basilar Occipital left lateral Occipital right lateral Left maxilla Right maxilla Left mandible Right mandible Sphenoid body and lesser wings Sphenoid left greater wing Sphenoid right greater wing Vomer Left zygomatic Right zygomatic Upper Limb Left scapula Right scapula Left clavicle Right clavicle Left humerus Right humerus Left ulna Right ulna Left radius Right radius Lower Limb Left ilium Right ilium Left pubis Right pubis Left ischium Right ischium Left femur Right femur Left tibia Right tibia Left fibula Right fibula Axial Components Left ribs Right ribs Vertebral centra Vertebral arches Neonate 1 Neonate 2

Partial Complete Complete Fragments Complete Complete Complete Complete Complete Complete Complete Complete Complete Complete Complete Complete Partial Complete Complete

Partial Complete Fragments Fragments Complete Complete Partial Complete Complete Partial Complete Complete Complete Complete

Complete Complete Complete Complete Complete Complete Complete Complete Complete Complete

Complete Complete Complete Complete Complete

Complete Complete Complete Complete Complete Complete Complete Complete Complete Complete Complete

10 present (including first) 3 present (including first) 4 cervical, 7 thoracic, 5 lumbar 35 unfused arches

1 present



Figure 3. Superior aspect of mandibles from Neonate 1 (at left) and Neonate 2.

The ilia from Neonate 1 also suggest the infant was male. On both bones the cranial extensions of the vertical sides of the greater sciatic notches pass along the lateral rims of the auricular surfaces. Both sciatic notches are fairly narrow, and the curvatures of both iliac crests exhibit a marked S-shape when viewed superiorly. The remains from Neonate 2 do not include ilia. The age at death for each neonate was determined by comparing metrical data from these remains with developmental data from documented fetal and full-term skeletons collected by Fazekas and Ksa (1978). Their study sample consisted of 138 human fetuses (71 males and

67 females) ranging in age between the third and tenth lunar months. The fetal remains were from autopsies performed in Hungary and represent a very narrow sample for comparative purposes. Because documented immature remains constitute a tiny percentage of the forensic and archaeological cases recorded by physical anthropologists, a more applicable comparative sample currently does not exist. Results of the metrical analyses of the neonatal remains using regression formulae developed by Fazekas and Ksa (1978) indicate that both individuals represent full-term fetuses who died around the time of birth (Table 4). The degree of calcification of the dental remains from Neonate 1 supports this age range (Table 3). The overall age range for Neonate 1 is 914912 lunar months (3738 weeks or 259266 days), while Neonate 2 died between 99 1 2 lunar months (3638 weeks or 252266 days). These estimates fall within the clinically defined fullterm period (3741 weeks or 259 to 286 days inclusive from the first day of the last menstrual period). The body lengths of both neonates also place them within the full-term period. Both individuals from the privy represent normally developed full-term fetuses. There is no skeletal evidence to suggest that the infants were nonviable when they were delivered. The close similarities in the size, skeletal morphology, and degree of development of the two neonates (Figures 1 and 2) strongly suggest that they were twins. Since the remains were


Arcade and Tooth Maxillary Deciduous right central incisor (dri1) Deciduous right lateral incisor (dri2) Deciduous right first molar (drm1) Mandibular Deciduous left lateral incisor (dli1) Deciduous right first molar (drm1) Deciduous left first molar (dlm1)
1 2

Calcification Stage1 Crown 34 complete Crown 34 complete Crown 12 complete Crown 34 complete Crown 12 complete Crown 12 complete

Age Estimate2 Birth 2 months Birth 2 months Birth 2 months Birth 2 months 2 months 1 month 2 months 1 month

Following Moorrees et al. (1963a, 1963b). Following Moorrees et al. (1963a, 1963b) and Ubelaker (1989).

THOMAS A. CRISTBabies in the Privy



Bone and Measurement1 Cranial Bones Frontal height Frontal width Temporal height Temporal width Tympanic ring diameter Occipital height Occipital width Occipital basilar length Occipital basilar width Occipital lateral length Occipital lateral width Maxilla height Maxilla oblique length Mandible body length Mandible arc width Mandible full length Average Upper Limb Humerus length Radius length Ulna length Clavicle length Lower Limb Femur length Tibia length Fibula length Neonate 1 Body Length2 47.4 40.2 44.7 42.8 36.5 50.3 46.2 43.5 49.3 55.3 57.0 46.1 46.3 53.0 45.7 48.9 47.15.1 50.1 53.1 49.9 50.1 50.81.3 52.8 52.7 51.0 52.20.8 51.51.1 49.3 Age Estimate3 91210 8812 8129 91210 9912 912 91210 912 912 912 912 912 912 912 912 912 91410 8812 >10 8129 >10 9912 7128 812 8129 814812 8129 914912 Neonate 2 Body Length2 47.4 41.4 44.7 42.8 36.5 52.0 45.7 49.3 55.3 53.8 41.1 50.1 43.1 46.8 46.45.1 48 46.7 46.7 47.7 47.30.6 47.30.6 46.9 Age Estimate3 91210 8812 8129 91210 9912 912 912 912 912 912 9912 9912 9912 9912 9912 8812 9912 8812 >10 834914 834914 9912



Combined Postcranial Average Best Overall Average

1 2

Following Buikstra and Ubelaker (1994) and Fazekas and Ksa (1978). In centimeters; from regression formulae in Fazekas and Ksa (1978). 3 In lunar months; based on comparative data from Fazekas and Ksa (1978).

commingled in the same soil layer, it is more likely that they represent babies from the same delivery rather than two infants from separate women who discarded their newborns together. The potential familial affinity of these two individuals could possibly have been assessed through comparative DNA tests; however, no invasive sampling of the remains was undertaken prior to their reburial. Neither individual presents evidence of infectious disease or nutritional disorders. Small

patches of mildly raised, porotic bone located on the anterior surfaces of the distal femora from Neonate 1 may be related to an infection but more likely represent normal development at the metaphyseal plates. The frontals from both individuals present porosity with evidence of remodeling and fairly deep vascular grooves on their endocranial surfaces. While also possibly indicating infection, it is more likely that these areas reflect rapid growth of the cranial bones and adjacent brain tissue. Additionally, the



ectocranial surfaces of the parietals from both neonates exhibit irregular porosity and a transversely organized linear appearance. Although similar in appearance to cranial lesions associated with rickets (vitamin D deficiency), most nutritional deficiency disorders rarely appear before 24 months postpartum and are atypical of neonates. This is because the required vitamins continually pass from mother to fetus, where they are stored in the liver (Steinbock 1976; Ortner and Putschar 1985). Even if no vitamin intake occurs after birth, several months pass before most nutritional diseases are manifest. Results: The Fetal Remains In June 1996, Dr. Pamela Crabtree, the faunal consultant to the Five Points Archaeological Project, identified a humerus and scapula from Catalog Unit 980 (Feature AG, EU 2, Lot 43, Stratum IV, Level 2) that she suspected represent a human fetus. Comparison of these bones with documented fetal remains in the collection of the Mtter Museum at the College of Physicians of Philadelphia confirmed this determination. These human fetal bones were mixed among the remains of fetal pigs

and other refuse located adjacent to the privys stone wall in a sandy loam deposit with a TPQ of 1840. The two fetal bones are (1) a partially intact right humerus and (2) a fragmented left scapula (Figure 4). The diaphysis of the humerus is intact except for the proximal metaphyseal surface, which is mildly eroded with exposure of the underlying trabecular bone. The medial and superior borders of the scapula are eroded and fragmented. The posterior edge of the scapular spine is also eroded. Based on both the degree of development and provenience data, the two fetal bones most likely represent the same individual. The bones are not associated with the two neonates recovered from Catalog Units 973, 984, and 985, discussed above. Catalog Unit 980 was a component of soils that had been missed when the privy was emptied during its use by the residents of 12 Orange Street. The humerus and scapula recovered from this unit are most likely the remnants of a fetus whose other bones were separated and lost when the privy was cleaned out. Based on comparisons with data from Fazekas and Ksa (1978) and Scheuer and Black (2000), measurements of the humerus and scapula indicate that the remains represent a fetus aged 55 1 2 lunar months (2022 weeks or 4 1 25 gestational months) at death. This age estimate takes into account the erosion and fragmentation of the two bones, which reduces the precision of the measurements (Table 5). Neither bone presents any evidence of pathology or developmental abnormality. The Question of Perimortem Events at 12 Orange Street The remains of the two neonates and the fetus from the privy at 12 Orange Street in Five Points represent in microcosm the tragedy that often accompanied life in antebellum New York City. The fact that the remains were discovered in situ in distinct privy shaft deposits mixed among faunal bones almost certainly reflects at least two deliberate attempts to conceal the deaths of these immature individuals, a crime of corpse abuse. The question of whether the deaths themselves represent illegal acts needs to be addressed within the context of antebellum

Figure 4. Anterior aspect of right humerus and left scapula from a fetus aged 2022 weeks (412 5 gestational months).

THOMAS A. CRISTBabies in the Privy



Bone and Measurement1 Upper Limb Humerus length2 Humerus width Humerus diameter Scapula length2 Scapula width2 Scapula spine length

Left (16) (14) 15


Right (33) 8 4

Following Buikstra and Ubelaker (1994) and Fazekas and Ksa (1978); all measurements in millimeters (mm). 2 Minimum lengths and width due to erosion.

laws governing infanticide and illegal abortion, both topics of considerable interest and controversy prior in the 19th century. Perimortem events refer to those actions that occurred around the time of death and resulted in the observed evidence, including the nature and location of the recovered remains. In the case of the skeletal remains in the privy at 12 Orange Street, it is virtually impossible to determine the actual sequence of events that led to their unseemly disposal. Like the deceased baby found on Anthony Street in 1841, did someone unconnected to their birth find these abandoned infants and discard them in the privy to avoid any implication in their deaths? Did their mother live or work in the tenement at 12 Orange Street or in one of the adjoining tenements and, unprepared for motherhood, allow the babies to die through neglect or worse? Were they stillborn? If so, perhaps their mother was unaware of their disposal in the privy, having been assured by her midwife or other attendants that the infants had been properly buried when the opposite was true. The windows of history are too fogged to ever ascertain the precise answers. Instead, reconstructions of the perimortem events may be based on anecdotal evidence from similar cases. The conclusion that the neonatal remains represent a single incident of concealment is compelling based on corroborative archaeological and osteological evidence. Both babies were found in the privy within the same primary stratigraphic

levels, which date from the early 1840s. Their remains were partially commingled and had originated from the same soil deposit prior to disturbance of the privy during construction of an intrusive wall in the 1890s, indicating they had been buried together. Even though viability cannot be determined from the skeletal remains, the osteological analysis indicates that both full-term fetuses presented no developmental abnormalities and were most likely alive when born. There are no obvious fractures or any other evidence of perimortem trauma. This lack of trauma may suggest that the infants were stillborn, but many causes of death leave no trace on the skeleton. Historical precedents for hiding the remains of deceased infants in privies are all too common among 19th-century city police reports and coroners inquests. Lane (1997:121) describes typical cases of women prosecuted for infanticide in antebellum Philadelphia and their fateful actions:
Almost all of the accused were single mothers; several had not reported their pregnancies to anyone, trying to the last minute to hide their bellies under the billowing clothing of the day. Typically they had given birth alone, and then perhaps stuffed the infants throat with a rag to keep it from crying out, orhaving gone to the privy, the only place in the home or boardinghouse where they might safely be alonehad dropped it down, into the vault below, immediately on cutting the cord.

Given the extremely precarious financial condition of the typical single workingwoman in antebellum New York City, difficult as it is to imagine, a woman living or working at 12 Orange Street or nearby may very likely have delivered these infants alone and then purposely discarded them in the backyard privy. Based on both the stratigraphic relationships of the soil layers in which the remains were found and the degree of skeletal commingling, it is highly unlikely that the remains represent anything other than a single act of concealment performed by one person. But was this act a criminal one? Beyond abuse of the corpses, the deaths of the babies themselves represent criminal acts only if the mother, or some other individual, actively caused the newborns to die. Assuming that it was an unwanted pregnancy, perhaps the most intriguing question is why a



woman would bring twins to term when so many reliable means of abortion were available, even to workingwomen trapped in the poverty of Five Points. Many of these women aspired to be mothers, hoping that motherhood would lead to marriage and elevate them from the streets into more stable domestic circumstances (Hill 1993:242,313317). Perhaps the mother of these children believed that their father, possibly a respectable man of means, would deliver her from the hell of Five Points upon their birth. This may have been a myth that she waited too long to realize was untrue, leaving her with a desperate choice faced too often by unmarried pregnant women. The discovery of the fetal remains in a different primary privy deposit with a TPQ of 1840 indicates that use of the privy at 12 Orange Street to conceal the remains of unwanted pregnancies apparently was not an isolated incident. Because of their clandestine mode of interment and the fact that the remains represent a quickened fetus, the two bones represent at least a concealed miscarriage if not an illegal abortion. Between 1830 and 1845, abortions performed after quickening of the fetus (usually at 18 to 20 weeks) were illegal and, though prosecuted selectively, were considered acts of manslaughter by the abortionist. The mother was not held liable for the abortion until after enactment of New Yorks 1845 Abortion Act, whereby both the mother and the abortionist were held criminally liable of a misdemeanor, regardless of the stage of pregnancy. Abortions were relatively accessible in New York City during this period, as evidenced both by the number of advertisements for such services carried in the city newspapers and the numerous references to preventing such procedures by contemporary social workers and public health officials. Prostitutes certainly availed themselves of these services, which, even after the passage of the strict 1845 Abortion Act, were rarely prosecuted (Mohr 1978; Gilfoyle 1992; Hill 1993). But those cases that were brought against abortionists were highly publicized in the penny press and periodically sparked police crackdowns on such activities. This was certainly true of Madame Restelles trial in 1841, around the time that the neonatal and fetal remains were disposed of in the privy at 12 Orange Street.

Just as hiding the remains of neonates in privies was, though deviant, not unusual in antebellum urban America, abortions were not uncommon events in brothels. Hill (1993:238) notes that a number of prostitutes abortions may have been performed in their brothels, and, unless a death [of the mother] occurred, no one was the wiser. Hill (1993:238) also quotes an article published in the National Police Gazette in 1846 that reported a so-called doctor had delivered a five-month-old fetus to a young prostitute named Mary Arkley, in the attic of Honey Brewsters den at 474 Broome Street ... Arkley later died, and an investigation was conducted. In a case from 1840 that also involved a prostitutes abortion, a Dr. Thomas Gage conducted a procedure that caused the prostitute, Ellen Gallagher, to enter premature labor and deliver a live six month-old fetus which was thrown into the vessel under the bed and then wrapped in paper and thrown from the dock (quoted in Hill 1993:240). After testimony from a number of doctors representing both sides of the case and the housekeeper who ran the brothel, Gage was acquitted when 4 of the 12 jurors voted against conviction. Interestingly, the housekeeper, Eliza Taylor, refused to allow Gallagher to stay in her house for the abortion, so Gage moved Gallagher into the house next doorMrs. Pratts at 472 Broome, [a house] of the same character (quoted in Hill 1993: 241)where he had previously boarded women who were waiting for abortions. Where was it that Gage disposed of the fetal remains? It would seem unlikely that his services included arranging for their proper interment in an official burial ground. It is possible that the fetal remains represent a natural miscarriage and that the mother or another party disposed of the remains in the privy rather than face the expense of burial in a cemetery. As previously noted, about 20% of pregnancies fail naturally, a figure that was probably much higher for poor workingwomen who suffered from chronically inadequate nutrition. Perhaps the mother chose not to reveal her pregnancy and terminated it herself by ingesting any of the numerous abortifacients that were available at the time, relying on the privy to dispose of the evidence. Personal reasons for concealing a pregnancy are complicated and varied, and the additional economic pressures

THOMAS A. CRISTBabies in the Privy


on poor women in the urban environment may have made early termination of the pregnancy the only choice of a desperate mother. The identity of the perpetrator or perpetrators responsible for the skeletal remains in the privy will probably remain a mystery. The most likely suspects are the residents of the tenement at 12 Orange Street, who had daily access to the privy and certainly knew the typical nature of its contents. Historical evidence demonstrates that abortions and acts of infanticide were common in New York Citys brothels and that a brothel was closed down at the property in 1843, so it is not difficult to associate the skeletal remains in the privy with the prostitutes working for John Donohue in his common, ill-governed, and disorderly house in the tenements cellar. As recorded by Sanger (1939) in 1858, more than 60% of the children born to prostitutes in New York City died, most due to poor maternal care, abortions, and stillbirths. This represents an infant mortality rate almost four times higher than that for the citys general population. It is also likely that cases of infanticide likewise occurred at a higher frequency among New York Citys prostitutes. Prostitution, abortion, and infanticide formed three sides of a desperate triangle for many poor women in antebellum New York City, and in Five Points in particular. But other residents living at 12 Orange Street may be equally plausible candidates for these deeds. Like numerous others throughout Five Points, this tenements residents comprised a transient mix of immigrants, the working poor, and prostitutes. While the links between abortions and prostitutes are historically documented and it is clear from Dr. Gages trial that even the remains from abortions performed by physicians were often discarded inappropriately, it is more problematical to associate a full-term pregnancy with a working prostitute. Even though many prostitutes did choose to carry their pregnancies to full term and raise their children (Hill 1993:242,313317), pregnancy could pose a range of practical occupational difficulties for a woman working in the sex industry. For that reason alone, a more likely scenario for the disposal of the neonates may involve another resident of the tenement, one who concealed her pregnancy until the last minute and then retired to the privy behind

the building to give birth and, perhaps with prior knowledge of the final disposition of the aborted fetus, likewise consigned her babies to their secret grave. Without DNA analysis it is impossible to know whether all three children shared the same mother. Of course, in the midst of the citys most infamous district, it is possible that the privy at 12 Orange Street was chosen by parties unknown who sought an anonymous place among the teeming tenements to discard these most innocent of Five Points nameless citizens. Conclusion The skeletal remains discovered in 1993 in the privy at 12 Orange Street represent tales of desperation, exploitation, and victimization of women from New York Citys antebellum past. Possibly associated with use of the tenement by prostitutes, they also reflect social and legal attitudes regarding infanticide and abortion. Prior to the Civil War, women accused of infanticide and illegal abortions, usually single and poor and often recent immigrants, were viewed by many as pitiable victims of abuse and exploitation, a perspective that changed after the 1860s to one that equated these women with depravity and blamed them for their low circumstances. These changing views corresponded to the widening gap between the culture of domesticity and the society formed by the laboring poor and were sharpened as the roles of women in both communities, often at odds with one another, crystallized. Beginning in the 1830s, issues of sexual conduct became intertwined with middle-class fears of increasing crime and immigration. Womens rights to privacy and competent health care were soon pitted against the criminalization of abortion, while infanticide, always illegal though sporadically prosecuted, continued apace. As domestic culture enveloped New York City, government started to regulate illicit behaviors that began in public and moved behind closed doors. Yet it was the emphasis on the rules of respectable social conduct that no doubt fostered and sustained much of the very behavior the state laws were designed to arrest. Due to its unique position geographically, socially, and economically, New York City served as the national focal point in the debates



regarding prostitution, abortion, and, to a lesser degree, infanticide, which never generated the same level of discourse. In the antebellum era, New York sustained the shocks of industrialization, urbanization, and the westwardmoving frontier ... With the important exception of slavery, New York history in the three decades before the Civil War encompassed or presaged the major historical forces at work in nineteenth-century America (Basch 1983: 2829). And it was in the Five Points district, made infamous through the penny press as well as numerous references in books and religious tracts, where the dichotomy between acceptable domestic culture and street life for the working poor was most pointed. Antebellum New Yorkers were fairly accustomed to reports of infant remains found in common areas throughout the city. Had the skeletons of the two neonates and the fetus been discovered when they were deposited in the Orange Street privy, however, the case very possibly would have been sensationalized in the citys penny press and even may have attracted Edgar Allen Poes attention, as did the death of Mary Rogers in 1841 (Srebnick 1995). In fact, the famous Rogers murder case, which served as the basis for Poes best-selling story The Mystery of Marie Roget, began with her disappearance from her mothers boardinghouse at 126 Nassau Street, located just five blocks from Orange Street. The Rogers case and the remains from Five Points may be linked by abortion, the issue that replaced prostitution in the debate over privacy issues and womens sexual behavior in the 1840s. An abortion may have cost Rogers her life and may also be the most likely explanation for the discovery of the partial fetal remains in the privy at 12 Orange Street. Abortion, infanticide, and prostitution were practices that plagued the social reformers of the 19th century. Yet, in many cases it was the strict moral codes promulgated by these reformers that drove women of all social stations to conceal their pregnancies and take the lives of their babies. While not bound by the codes of acceptable conduct that regulated domestic culture, the economic realities of antebellum New York City placed considerable pressure on single workingwomen who became pregnant. Subject to rare exceptions, infanticide

is the result of an act that is not premeditated. It is effected by the means immediately at hand and usually by a person who is, at least temporarily, legally irresponsible. Abortion, both legal and illegal, was often the only choice a workingwoman in 19th-century New York City could make. Abortionists in 19th-century New York accommodated the needs of women from every rank, particularly those from the middle- and upper-economic classes who could afford the procedure. Yet these same women looked down at prostitution as an evil force spreading across the city, robbing the virtues of immigrant women and those moving into the city from the rural areas seeking a better life. Both issues, abortion and prostitution, were tied to public and private expressions of female sexuality that reflected outward signs of social position, class, and values. Assumptions of female behavior and respectability did not allow for what prostitutes advertised in abundance: sexuality and public freedom (Srebnick 1995). Instead of charity and benevolence, by the 1860s these women were shown little sympathy and only minimal attempts to understand the underlying reasons for their acts. Abortion, prostitution, and infanticide had no place in acceptable middle-class domestic culture, yet all three issues were intimately linked with and shaped womens lives in 19th-century New York City. The skeletal remains from the privy at 12 Orange Street represent three of the innumerable infants who died in America during the 19th century, victims of the social milieu in which they and their mothers were trapped. While their names never appeared on a tombstone, nor their births ever officially recorded, the archaeological discovery of their remains grants these anonymous babies a sort of immortality their parents will never know. Their discovery also underscores the power of archaeology to make tangible the struggles of workingwomen in 19th-century urban America, particularly in the face of both a rapidly changing economy and an increasingly intolerant social environment. The bones of these babies serve as a poignant reminder of the grindingly harsh conditions of the urban world, their fleeting lives easily forgotten among the bustling chaos of New York Citys Five Points.

THOMAS A. CRISTBabies in the Privy

43 and especially Patrick W. OBannon, as well as their financial support to attend the 1998 SHA Conference. I also appreciate the ongoing support of Dean K. Della Ferguson and Program Director Dale Scalise-Smith at Utica College. I especially want to acknowledge the invaluable guidance and assistance of Ted A. Rathbun, professor emeritus at the University of South Carolina and deputy state archaeologist for forensics. The opinions and statements included in this paper are mine alone; they do not necessarily reflect the views of the employers or individuals with whom I was or am currently associated.

Epilogue The Five Points archaeological project laboratory was located in the basement beneath the United States Customs House at 6 World Trade Center. It was in this laboratory that the skeletal remains of the two infants and the fetus from the Orange Street privy were first identified. The laboratory was destroyed following the terrorist attacks of 11 September 2001 when the World Trade Centers north tower collapsed onto the Customs House. Fortunately, all employees had been evacuated prior to the collapse and escaped uninjured. It was also fortunate that the skeletal remains escaped destruction on that tragic day. They had been removed earlier in the year by the United States General Services Administration for a proper and respectful burial in a Staten Island cemetery under the ecclesiastical oversight of the Roman Catholic Diocese of New York. ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
I would like to thank Donna J. Seifert for asking me to participate in the Sin City session at the 1998 SHA Conference and for the opportunity to publish this paper. Arthur Washburn and Molly Hickey Crist both contributed significantly to the examination and analysis of the neonatal remains. I conducted much of the research for this paper while employed by John Milner Associates, Inc. (JMA), and I would like to express my gratitude to Rebecca Yamin and Daniel G. Roberts for their continued assistance and kind support. Claudia Milne and Heather Griggs of JMAs Five Points archaeological project team and Pamela Crabtree were instrumental in distinguishing the human fetal remains from the faunal material in the Orange Street privy, and I would like to acknowledge their important contributions to this analysis. Gretchen Worden, director of the Mtter Museum of the College of Physicians of Philadelphia, kindly allowed me to compare the fetal remains from Five Points with documented remains in the museums collection. Peter Sneed of the United States General Services Administration helpfully provided information regarding the reburial of the skeletal remains. I appreciate the comments made by the Sin City session discussants Diana diZerega Wall and especially Timothy J. Gilfoyle; this paper benefited significantly from their input. I am indebted to the three anonymous reviewers as well, particularly reviewer no. 1 whose detailed and thought-provoking comments assisted me greatly. I am grateful for the interest in my research provided by the principals at Kise Straw & Kolodner (KSK)

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Elizabeth Barthold O'Brien

Illicit Congress in the Nation's Capital: The History of Mary Ann Hall's Brothel
Mary Ann Hall ran a high-class brothel in Washington, DC, from about 1840 until the 1870s. Located several blocks from the capitol building at 349 Maryland Avenue, it probably served wealthy, well-connected men in the national capital. During the Civil War, it was likely the largest brothel in the city. When Hall died in 1886, she left behind a valuable estate and was buried in Washington's Congressional Cemetery. Intensive background research uncovered documentary evidence that sheds light on this high-class brothel as well as on prostitution in general in Washington, DC, during the 19th century. Sources included census records, city directories, tax assessments, deeds, maps, historic photographs and prints, police precinct records, historic newspapers, and several unique 19thcentury and contemporary publications on prostitution in general and Washington, DC, scandals. Especially enlightening sources were a series of newspaper articles detailing Mary Ann Halls 1864 indictment for keeping a bawdy house and a collection of papers in the District of Columbia Archives documenting the legal battle among Halls heirs for her estate. The latter includes a room-by-room inventory made in 1886 that reveals the contents of the house where Hall ran her brothel.

life, her assets were valued at nearly $90,000 and included both the elegantly furnished brick brothel building in Washington as well as a 72acre farm in Virginia. A dignified and expensive monument still marks her grave in Washingtons Congressional Cemetery (Figure 2). John Milner Associates conducted intensive background research as part of the data recovery project at the site of Halls brothel, the Mall location selected by the Smithsonian Institution for the National Museum of the American Indian. The research not only focused on Hall and her brothel but also on the character of the neighborhood in which she lived and worked and on prostitution in general in 19th-century Washington. Bawdy houses and red-light districts were not mentioned in many guidebooks or descriptions of the city of the period. Washington lacked the moral reform movements that

Introduction The picture The Harlots Voyage of Life, printed in James Buels (1883) book The Mysteries and Miseries of Americas Great Cities, shows a dark and treacherous river ahead for the seemingly carefree woman of easy virtue (Figure 1). It typifies the common 19th-century belief that choosing a life of prostitution would lead a woman to destitution, early death, and a paupers grave. In contrast to this perceived path of the prostitute, 19th-century Washington, DC, prostitute and madam Mary Ann Hall accumulated a small fortune before dying at the age of 71 in 1886. At the end of her

Figure 1. Nineteenth-century illustration entitled, The Harlot's Voyage of Life (Buel 1883).

Historical Archaeology, 2005, 39(1):4758. Permission to reprint required. Accepted for publication 11 November 2003.



Figure 2. Mary Ann Hall's grave marker in Congressional Cemetery, Washington, DC. (Courtesy of the Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC.)

in other cities, such as New York and Boston, engendered tracts, journals, and studies on local manifestations of the social evil (Hobson 1990: 2021; Gilfoyle 1992:6465). Surviving records of District of Columbias Board of Health (DCBH 18401870) from the 19th century indicate that its members saw prostitution as neither a health hazard nor a public nuisance. Information gleaned from 19th-century newspaper articles, city directories, census records, deeds, tax records, other legal documents, and police records has restored a small glimpse of a brothel that an 1864 newspaper attested had, it is no exaggeration to saya national reputation for the last quarter of a century (Evening Star 1864). District of Columbia Tax Books (DCTB 1840) indicate that around 1840, Hall built a large, three-story, brick building in Reservation C. U.S. Bureau of the Census records (USBC 1840, 1850) reveal that she was in her early

20s at the time. Facing Maryland Avenue, SW, the house was erected on a city block that was carved out of the land now included within the National Mall. According to tax records (DCTB 1839), the block had been previously improved with only a few small shacks. The house was located in Washingtons Southwest Quadrant on the south side of the City Canal, which had been formed from a stream in the early-19th century. Because the canal physically separated this quadrant from the rest of the city, the area was commonly referred to as The Island. Hall built her house within blocks of the U.S. Capitol in a city known for the many transient men who came from all over the country, usually unaccompanied by women, to transact business with the government (Buel 1883:226; Leech 1941:261). According to the 1840 federal census, Hall headed a household comprised of four other white women in their 20s, a free African American woman in her late 20s or early 30s, and a male slave between the ages of 10 and 24. Although nothing in the census states that Hall kept a brothel, the composition of her household suggests that she was already involved in the business from which she would prosper over the next several decades. Tax records imply that she reinvested her profits during the 1840s, making improvements to her property that doubled its value by 1850. During this period, the values of the unimproved lots on the block remained fairly constant, suggesting that inflation was not a factor in the increasing value of the lot. Also during the 1840s, Halls personal property increased in value from $1,500 to $2,000 (DCTB 1840, 1842, 1844, 1846, 1848). In the 1850 census, Mary Ann Hall was listed as a 33-year-old substitute, a term the census taker apparently used to describe a prostitute. Also listed as substitutes were her 31-year-old sister, Elizabeth, and another 22-year-old woman, while 33-year-old Elizabeth Lowe was listed as an exsubstitute. A 50-year-old free mulatto named Judy Fleet served as housekeeper (USBC 1850). Arlington County records indicate that Hall expanded her real estate holdings in 1853 by purchasing a 72-acre farm in Virginia for $2,400. Called Netherfauld, this large property had a commanding view of the city. Later known as the Rixey Estate, this tract is now occupied by Marymount University and the Washington Golf

ELIZABETH BARTHOLD OBRIENIllicit Congress in the Nations Capital


and Country Club (Arlington County Deed Book 1853; Templeman 1959:134). The size and value of Halls house suggest that she operated an establishment similar to the high-class parlor houses described by physician William Sanger in his 1858 History of Prostitution. Although Sanger wrote the book from his interviews with prostitutes in New York City, his generalizations probably applied to contemporary conditions in Washington, DC. According to Sanger, these upper-class brothels were expensively furnished and were occupied by attractive young prostitutes who rarely left the premises. Their visitors, he wrote, are mostly of what may be called the aristocratic class; young, middle-aged, and even old men of property, of all callings and professions; any one who can command a liberal supply of money is welcome, but without this indispensable requisite, his company is not sought or appreciated (Sanger 1939:550). Sanger explained that each visitor to these houses was expected to buy an overpriced bottle of champagne from the keeper of the house to share with his pro tempore inamorata, but excessive drunkenness in the houses was rare because an intoxicated man would be likely to give them trouble, damage their furniture, and injure the reputation of the house (Sanger 1939:551). Although he made no references to specific establishments, John B. Ellis confirmed that Washington had its share of high-class brothels in his 1869 book The Sights and Secrets of the National Capital. These houses were reportedly patronized by men high in the public life, including military officers, state governors, lawyers, and doctors. The beautiful and accomplished young women who worked in theses houses came from all parts of the country. Ellis (1869:458459) confimed the common 19th-century view of prostitution, stating that the women rarely return two years in succession, for their fearful life soon breaks down their beauty and robs them of their attractions. While Washingtons parlor houses may have been similar to those in New York City and other urban areas, the District of Columbias status as the national capital gave prostitutes additional professional opportunities. The illicit activities performed in the seat of the federal government merited a full chapter in

Buels titillating 1883 expose entitled Mysteries and Miseries of Americas Great Cities. In the book, Buel anecdotally described high-class Washington prostitutes and madams who used their charms to promote particular laws on the floors of Congress and reaped handsome rewards from those who derived benefits from the legislation (Figure 3). According to Buel, lobbying prostitutes were a common fixture in the Senates ladies audience chamber balcony. From this flattering perch, he wrote, they become objects of unctuous admiration, displaying to excellent advantage their gorgeous apparel with half revealing monuments of maternity peeping over brilliant bodices, and arms dressed in rouge that helps nature amazingly (Buel 1883:180). Although it cannot be confirmed that Hall and her employees participated in such lobbying, the type of house she ran and its proximity to the capitol certainly makes it plausible. Nineteenth-century sources suggest that the transient nature of Washingtons inhabitants added another unique aspect to the local practice of prostitution. Elliss reference to Washington prostitutes coming from all over the country and returning to the city in successive years confirms the seasonal nature of prostitution in a city with a population that rose and fell in rhythm with the congressional sessions. Buel (1883:161) described this phenomenon:
During the vacation of Congress the Capital is lifeless as a eunuch under the beams of tropical heat, but when winter calls together the horde of officers and applicants who stream behind like pungent odors resisting fumigation, a change succeeds, and under the toxicity of this infusion Washington grows as strong in her loins as Antoeus throbbing with desire. Society, mottled as a leopard, at once organizes into coteries and designing cliques, posts the guards, pulls up the portcullis, and then plunges into dissipations patterned after Belshazzars feast.

During the summer lull Hall, and possibly her employees, may have retreated to her Virginia farm. The number of bawdy houses and prostitutes in Washington increased with the tremendous population spurt that accompanied the outbreak of the Civil War. Throughout the conflict, thousands of soldiers encamped in the city, either awaiting orders to fight, manning forts to protect the capital from attack, or languishing from disease or wounds in the



Figure 3. Nineteenth-century illustration entitled How two dashing [Members of Congress] represented their constituents (Buel 1883).

citys numerous hospitals. Along with the soldiers came government bureaucrats, freed and escaped slaves, businessmen, and con-men, as well as camp followers and prostitutes who arrived in droves to meet the increased demand for their services. In her history of Civil War-era Washington, Reveille in Washington, Margaret Leech (1941:261) wrote, In New York, Philadelphia, and Baltimore, and even in Chicago and St. Louis, ambitious madams had closed their houses and, shepherding a choice selection of their misses, had entrained for the Washington market. The provost marshal of the army, who kept the list of bawdy houses, ostensibly to keep them under surveillance, counted 450 registered houses in the city in 1862. By 1863, the Evening Star newspaper estimated that Washington had about 5,000 prostitutes, either working in brothels or plying their trade as streetwalkers (Lowry 1994:68). Hall does not appear to have suffered from this wartime competition but, rather, used the

situation to expand her own business. The provost marshals 1864 list of Washingtons bawdy houses confirmed that Halls establishment was of the highest class; the list also revealed that hers was possibly the largest of any brothel in the city. Tax records show that the value of her Washington real estate had increased to $l0,000 by 1864 (DCTB 1864). The provost marshals 1864 list indicated that her house at 349 Maryland Avenue employed 18 inmates. The next largest house on the list employed 14 women, but overall the average number of prostitutes listed for each house in the city was about 5. Of the 73 white and 13 colored houses on the list, Halls was one of 21 described as first class (U.S. Army Corps of Engineers 18641865). Despite her success, a few of Halls charges apparently left her employ during the war, either to express their Southern sentiments or to seek other thriving markets in the South. According to the Evening Star, of 600 women who applied in 1863 for federal

ELIZABETH BARTHOLD OBRIENIllicit Congress in the Nations Capital


escort to the Rebel capital in Richmond, 70 were prostitutes. The article specifically stated that several women among their number were from Mary Halls (Leech 1941:265). Despite army surveillance, police records and newspaper articles suggest that prostitution was inconsistently addressed by the authorities during the 1860s. According to Police Superintendent Richard Sylvester in his 1894 history of the District of Columbia police force, the city assumed a livelier aspect as the war progressed. To control the citys rampant crime, the U.S. Congress created the Metropolitan Police District of the District of Columbia on 6 August 1861 with a force of 150 men (Sylvester 1894:50; Lowry 1994:65). Although prostitution was not considered a crime, the police kept close scrutiny of the areas were it was most prevalent since thievery, murder, and mayhem were often found nearby. For instance, in May 1862 the Evening Star reported that a hack driver, who had been engaged by three or four officers to take them to Miss Mary Halls establishment on the Island, had his hack stolen when he went into the house to receive his pay. The article stated that the team and hack were later retrieved in Tin Cup Alley where two suspects were arrested (Evening Star 1862). Soon after perfunctorily naming Halls house as the scene of a hack theft, the Evening Star would devote much more ink to the well-known ranche at 349 Maryland Avenue for the alleged crimes of its inhabitants. The Police Boards General Order No. 17 of June 1862 called for the enforcement of the citys vagrant law, which applied to beggars, confidence men, drunkards, and public prostitutes and all persons who lead a lewd and lascivious life. According to the order, anyone could inform the police magistrate of persons to whom the vagrant law applied and obtain a warrant for his or her arrest. The arrested party was then required to pay an amount set by the police department that would be returned to them after six months of good behavior. Persons who defaulted on the security were to be confined to the workhouse for a maximum of 90 days (Metropolitan Police of Washington, DC 1862b:28). Police precinct reports for the following month, July 1862, show 75 arrests of prostitutes under the order. Only 10 of the prostitutes were arrested

specifically for prostitution. The others were accused of such offenses as disorderly conduct, fighting, profanity, drunkenness, vagrancy, or more specific acts such as sleeping in a wagon, or fast riding in the street. One black prostitute was arrested for walking with a white man. She and her companion, who was arrested for walking with a Negro prostitute, were both fined five dollars. In general, all of the prostitutes arrested, no matter what the crime, were fined a nominal amount, asked for a security for good behavior, or sent to the workhouse for a month or two (Metropolitan Police of Washington, DC 1862a). In an article entitled Cyprian Affinities, the Evening Star detailed the 12 March 1863 arrest of three residents of 349 Maryland Avenue:
Annie Smith, Alice Martin, and Cora Wilbraham, three fallen angels, sojourning at Mary Halls hades, yesterday secured a barouche and driver for the purpose of taking an airing, and in order to keep their spirits up, they stopped at sundry restaurants and put the spirits down to such an extent that they imagined themselves in Dixie, and commenced shouting for Jeff Davis and singing the Bonnie Blue Flag. At the corner of Seventh Street and the Avenue a mounted Provost Guard ordered a halt, and attempted to arrest the trio, when one of them jumped out of the hack, but was persuaded to get back, and the party were then escorted to the Provost Marshals office where Annie Smith and Alice Martin again allowed their secesh proclivities to stick out, and continued to hurrah for Jeff. and rebellion. Cora Wilbraham, however, being somewhat sober, was more quiet, and endeavored to dissuade her companions from being so disorderly. The whole party was sent to the Central Guardhouse, and were subsequently released upon the payment of a fine.

Police occasionally raided bawdy houses, but their efforts apparently did little to eliminate them. In his history of the District of Columbia police force, Sylvester wrote that houses of ill fame were the resorts of the drunken and vicious classes, and the keepers of these gilded palaces were often before the courts. He emphasized that madams were given stiff penalties for operating brothels (Sylvester 1894:54). In reality, raids and fines were likely considered a minor harassment and were simply the cost of doing business. As long as the houses remained orderly and discreet, they appear for the most part to have been tacitly accepted as a necessary evil (Leech 1941:261). Although Hall was indicted for running a bawdy house in 1864, her



house at 349 Maryland Avenue appears to have served as a brothel until at least 1880. In October 1863, Maria Kauffman was indicted for keeping a bawdy and disorderly house on Massachusetts Avenue. In court, her lawyer pointed out that it was unfair that police raided and fined poorer brothel keepers when indictments against such parties as Mary Hall, Sarah Austin and others who keep the upper-ten style of houses of this class [are] not called up (Evening Star 1863). The term upper-ten was used at the time to describe the very discreet and genteel establishments where unmarried men and women met for illicit rendezvous (Gilfoyle 1992:170172). Perhaps in response to this accusation, a grand jury obtained warrants for police raids of four of the citys high-class brothels in January 1864. The headlines in the Evening Star read, Heavy Raid Upon the Fancy. The Big Establishments Attended to. Mary Ann Hall and others of the Elite Marched up to the City Hall. According to the article, Hall arrived at the courthouse with her sister, Lizzie, in a suit of virtuous black. Halls two-day trial, which took place on 19 and 20 February, was covered in detail by the Evening Star , which stated, The ranche in question has hadit is no exaggeration to saya national reputation for the last quarter of a century, and the fact that the business concerns of this old and well-established house were being overhauled in Court has really attracted a considerable attention to the case. The witnesses called to the stand were mainly police officers and detectives familiar with the establishment. Several had come at Halls request to remove unruly patrons, while others had come in the course of investigations of various crimes in the city. Former Justice of the Peace Charles Walter described entering a scene at the house that appeared to be a wedding party, with champagne being handed around to eight or nine women, about eight citizens, and several officers. Other witnesses described first-class, showy furniture and well-dressed girls lounging about or reading. One witness said that he did not ask how these ladies employed themselves, but did not see any implements of industry about the house. Some witnesses stated that they recognized some of the girls as known prostitutes. Detective Michael Barry said that several of the girls he saw in the basement at Halls house were prostitutes

he had encountered while he was a detective in New York. A number of witnesses stated that they had often seen hacks parked at the house and saw men and women going in and out of the house late at night. One officer stated that the door had a ball and chain on it that allowed it to be opened about six inches, so that persons could be seen before being admitted to the house. Defense Attorney Joseph H. Bradley, Sr., called forth two women as witnesses. Becky Ford, who was assumed to be about 20, stated she was a boarder at the house. She said that Miss Emily Hinkerly controlled the house and collected rent. During meals, Emily sat at the head of the table and Cora Wilbert sat at the foot. Ford stated that Mary Ann Hall sat next to Emily at the table on the few occasions she had eaten with the rest of the boarders, but she was seldom at the house, and when she was, she generally had meals sent to her room. Cora, who testified next, stated that she paid her board, $20 per week, to Miss Hinkerly. Both women stated that they had heard Hinkerly express her regrets for buying out the house because of the trouble she was having with her boarders. Bradley then called forth a witness to prove that Halls primary residence was her Virginia farm, but she had been compelled to leave it by Union troops who had occupied it since 1862. Bradley argued that Hall was merely boarding at the house until she could find other accommodations, and that she was anxious to get out of the house to live as a private person. Although the jury found Hall guilty of running a bawdy house, no information regarding her sentence has been located (Evening Star 1864). At the end of the Civil War, Washington remained overcrowded and in disarray, and during the next decade serious efforts were made to improve its neglected infrastructure. Meanwhile, the brothels that had been dispersed throughout the city before the war gradually relocated to several red-light districts. The most infamous of these was the area between Pennsylvania Avenue and the Mall, which was widely referred to as Hookers Division. This double entendre referred to the occupation of many of its denizens as well as its reputation as a popular wartime resort for troops in Union General Joseph Hookers division. A smaller

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red-light district in and around Reservation C on The Island probably formed as the result of Halls large and successful house. By the 1860s, Reservation C had been developed with a number of other buildings, including an iron foundry and a large, cylindrical gasstorage tank. Halls house continued to stand out, however, as the largest and most valuable dwelling on the block. Census records from 1870 indicate that some houses on the block were occupied by working-class families, while others were occupied by single women (USBC 1870). Although most of these women were described as seamstresses or laundresses, it was uncommon at the time for reputable single women to live apart from their families, so it is possible some of them also made money through prostitution. Sanborn Fire Insurance maps and tax records show that by the 1870s and 1880s, most of the lots in Reservation C were developed with buildings facing onto the surrounding streets. Additional housing was built facing the alley that ran through the block, a citywide practice common during Washingtons postwar housing shortage. Occupied mostly by poor blacks and recent immigrants, these alley dwellings were known for their filth and squalor and throughout the 19th and early-20th century were blamed for promoting drunkenness, immorality, crime, and disease. The alley in Reservation C at the rear of Halls house was called Louse Alley and came to be one of the most notorious alleys in the city (deGraffenried 1897:1011; Weller 1909: 73; U.S. Senate Committee 1913:1214). Meanwhile, the larger dwellings facing onto Maryland Avenue housed prostitutes and working-class families, some of whom appear to have profited from the neighborhoods vices. At least one of Halls neighbors, Irish immigrants John and Maria Shea and their four daughters, were clearly selling liquor and stolen goods and renting rooms to prostitutes. In 1871, Maria Shea was accused of murdering a police officer. The detailed newspaper account indicated that Mrs. Shea shot the policemen when he came to her house in search of a stolen watch. According to the Evening Star, the Sheas house served as both a groggery and a fence for stolen goods and was a resort for all the thieves and prostitutes in the section of town where it [was] located. Maria

Shea was ultimately acquitted of the murder on the grounds that she fired the gun accidentally, despite reports from eyewitnesses who heard her threaten to blow [the officers] brains out with her pistol and cut his heart out with her knife (Evening Star 1871). The Shea family remained in the neighborhood into the 20th century and appears to have prospered (USBC 1900, 1910). Tax and census records, real estate maps, and building permits show that throughout the second half of the 19th century, the Sheas rented rooms to prostitutes and accumulated enough money to buy a number of lots on the block. The Sheas and their grown daughters built new houses and an apartment building facing both Maryland Avenue and Louse Alley (USBC 1870, 1880, 1900; DCTB 1876-1879; District of Columbia Building Permits 1878; District of Columbia General Assessments 18861887; Hopkins 1887; Sanborn Map Company 1888). Although Hall owned her house at the edge of this raucous block until her death in 1886, it is entirely possible that she retired to the private life she claimed to desire in her 1864 trial. The 1870 census listed the 48-year-old Hall residing on her Virginia farm with a 21year-old white male laborer (USBC 1870). She was also enumerated in Virginia in 1880 as a single, 64-year-old lady of means. For the first time in at least four decades, however, she was not listed as the head of the household. W. J. Gary, a 57-year-old, unmarried, white farmer headed the household, which included four other unmarried residents: 70-year-old white housekeeper Emily Hinkerly, two black servants in their 20s named Sarah Johnson and Eliza Hyson, and John Murray, a 16-year-old black laborer (USBC 1880). Although Hall apparently spent time in Virginia, city directories listed 349 Maryland Avenue as her address in 1846, 1850, 1860, 1862, 1867 (in boldface) 1868, 1872, and 1885. As was proposed in her 1864 trial, it is very likely that other women, such as Emily Hinkerly, were at times in charge of the day-today management of the brothel. In 1870, the household at 349 Maryland Avenue was headed by 58-year-old housekeeper Emily Hewitt [possibly an enumerators misinterpretation of Hinkerly] and included three Ladies of Leisure who were in their 20s (USBC 1870). City directories in 1878, 1879 (in boldface), 1881,



and 1882 list Lizzie Peterson as the proprietor of the boardinghouse at 349 Maryland Avenue, and the 1880 census described 35-yearold Peterson and six other women in the house as prostitutes (City Directory [CD] 1878, 1879, 1881, 1882; USBC 1880). Peterson appears to have come to Halls establishment with some prior experience as a brothel keeper. She was mentioned as a bawdy house keeper in an 1871 Evening Star article on a police court scandal, and she was listed in an 1876 city directory as the proprietor of a boardinghouse in Hookers Division at 107 6th Street, NW (CD 1876). In 1883, city directories show that Elizabeth Peterson had left 349 Maryland Avenue and returned to Hookers Division to run another boardinghouse (CD 1883). An 1890s map of brothels in Hookers Division entitled Within Sight of the White House, shows that Peterson was still running a house in Hookers Division at 1309 D Street (1895). The year Peterson left 349 Maryland Avenue in 1883, the Washington Dispensary set up a womens health clinic in a rented house at the corner of Maryland Avenue and Four-and-one-half Street (U.S. Senate 1927: 198). A photograph taken in 1901 confirms that the dispensary was located on Halls property. Mary Ann Hall had owned Lot 13 at the corner adjacent to her house since 1854, and although her house is obscured by trees in the 1901 photograph, the words Womens Dispensary are clearly shown painted on the wall bordering Lot 13 (D.C. Street Survey 1901). Run by two female doctors, the dispensary was funded by private gifts and money from the DC Commissioners appropriation for relief of the poor (U.S. Senate 1927:198). Appropriately, it was located in an area populated by poor women who probably had great need for medical services. Prior to the establishment of the dispensary, it is possible that the women in the neighborhood sought cures for the conditions common to their profession from Catherine Stegmeier, a German immigrant who lived nearby on Maine Avenue in the 1870s and 1880s and was employed as an herb doctress and botanic physician (USBC 1870, 1880). The dispensary was probably established as an outgrowth of a charitable movement among reputable Washington women to help their fallen sisters. A series of articles in the Evening Star in 1871 chronicled the controver-

sial efforts of the Womens Christian Association (WCA), comprised mostly of wives of prominent Washington men, who bravely introduced Washingtonians to the novel concept that some women turned to prostitution by necessity rather than choice. In late summer 1871, members of the WCA toured the citys red-light districts in response to a police proposal to raid the brothels in Hookers Division. As a result of interviews with prostitutes, the women concluded that a raid would do little to solve the problem of prostitution if the occupants of the bawdy houses were not given alternate means of support. To raise public awareness, the WCA held a series of meetings in the late summer and fall of 1871. The group was successful in persuading the police to delay the raid. Within several months after the tour, the WCA raised enough money to create an institution modeled after the Five Points House of Industry in New York City where former prostitutes could learn job skills and Christian values (Evening Star 1871). Although no documentation could be found to determine the success of the institution, the efforts of the WCA brought the previously unmentionable issue of prostitution into the public discourse and raised local awareness of the economic difficulties of many women. The dispensary in Reservation C, as well as a number of other similar charities, was probably created as a result of the evolving local attitudes toward prostitutes. The dispensary appears to have lasted only a few years, perhaps due to the death of its landlady, Mary Ann Hall, in 1886. According to her death certificate, Hall became ill in winter 1885, and after a 10-week illness, died of a cerebral hemorrhage at her home at 349 Maryland Avenue (District of Columbia Supreme Court [DCSC] 1886). According to her obituary in the Evening Star, Hall had a strictly private funeral and was buried in Congressional Cemetery. She probably had purchased her plot around the time of the death of her mother, Elizabeth, who had been buried in an adjacent grave in 1863. The plot also included the grave of her sister Catherine, who died in 1867. Halls obituary stated with integrity unquestioned a heart ever open to appeals of distress, a charity that was boundless, she is gone; but her memory will be kept green by many who knew her sterling worth. Her tombstone is inscribed Truth

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was her motto; her creed, charity for all. Dawn is coming. A month after the funeral, Halls two working-class brothers sued her surviving sisters Elizabeth and Lavinia for their share of Halls large estate. Census records indicate that Elizabeth had lived and worked with Mary Ann Hall in Washington (USBC 1850, 1860). The legal papers generated by the suit suggest that Lavinia had came to Washington from her home in New York City at the time of Mary Ann Halls illness. In one of the documents included in Halls legal file at the city archives, a line describing Lavinia as the wife of Henry Colton was struck out and written over with the word single (DCSC 1886). The fact that a Henry Colton was a known brothel keeper in New York could indicate that Lavinia held the same occupation as her sisters (Gilfoyle 1992:47). Halls estate papers show that she had accumulated real estate worth more than $20,000 and owned bonds and securities worth about $67,000. The value of the contents of her house at 349 Maryland Avenue was calculated from a detailed room-by-room inventory included in the legal file. Although this inventory was made about three years after the house had ceased serving as a brothel, the types of furnishings described suggest that Hall had kept it very much intact, despite its interim use as a womens dispensary. It is very likely that the inventory provides a glimpse of the furnishings of a high-class brothel (DCSC 1886). When compared to new items advertised in catalogues of the period, Halls belongings included many typical middle-class items as well as a number of expensive luxury goods such as Brussels carpets, paintings, a refrigerator, and mahogany and rosewood furniture (Bloomingdale Brothers 1886; DCSC 1886; Montgomery Ward & Co. 1895). According to the inventory, the main floor of the house had a front hall furnished with a marble-topped table, a hall carpet, and two large hall chairs. The front parlor, probably accessed by the hall, was the most formal room in the house with eight pieces of red plush parlor furniture, a large hassock, and an tagre for displaying decorative items. Two large oil paintings, one entitled The Voyage of Life and the other Unbelieving, appraised at $50 apiece, were the most valuable items in the house. To the rear of

the parlor was a room with two marble-topped tables and sets of silver-plated candlesticks and salt cellars. At the rear of the first floor was another large room that possibly served as a bedroom because it contained a marble-topped washstand and bureau as well as an old haircloth rocker, a red plush lounge, nine pieces of toilet ware, two small pictures, and a marble clock. In it were two small rugs, three large rugs, and about 50 yards of Brussels carpet. The four rooms on the two upper floors each contained bedsteads, one specifically of mahogany and another of rosewood. These beds, one worth $10.00 and the other worth $8.00 were the most valuable pieces of furniture in the house, except for a mirror-fronted wardrobe worth $20.00. Compared to furniture advertised in the 1895 Montgomery Ward catalogue, these pieces, although used, were worth more than most pieces of new furniture at the time. Each bedroom also included a full complement of bedding, including feather bolsters, shuck mattresses, comforters, sheets, blankets, and pillows. The furnishings in these rooms also included wash stands, towel racks, and various small tables and chairs. One of these rooms was obviously quite large since it contained 10 pieces of chamber furniture worth a total of $20.00. Decorative items in the bedrooms included pictures, Chinese vases, and a variety of pieces of china and toilet ware. One room featured a case of stuffed birds. The basement was used for cooking and laundry and probably served as a dining room for the boarders. It contained cooking utensils, a wood stove, a coal prod, and flat irons. It also contained a scale and weights, market baskets, and gardening and maintenance supplies such as a scythe, a ladder, a hand saw, and a tree pruner. Furnishings included two leaf tables and an extension table, a small marble-topped sideboard, six wood chairs, five cane-seat chairs, and a walnut settee. Tableware included 62 pieces of china, a small box of old cutlery, three celery glasses, an old silver-plated castor, and a china punch bowl. Other items in the room included a dinner bell, a small lot of table linen, two spittoons, and two chromolithographs, which were cheaply produced colored pictures. In the rear yard of the house was a small building that may have served as servants quarters or a summer kitchen. Its contents included



an old cook stove, an old pine table, five wood chairs, and a step ladder. Halls carriage, an extension-top phaeton, was stored at a carriage house on C Street. Evaluated at $175.00, it was worth more than any of the phaetons advertised by Montgomery Ward in 1895. Two pages attached to the inventory included the items in the house that had been claimed by Elizabeth and Lavinia. The lengthy list of Elizabeth Halls items possibly included furnishings of additional rooms in the house since it included another $8.00 bed and its accompanying mattresses and linens, a sideboard, an armchair, six smaller chairs, a gilt table, several rugs, a large French plate mirror worth $20.00, two large china vases, and a number of pieces of tableware. Lavinia Hall claimed an expensive wine set with decanters and glasses, two fancy chairs, a brass clock and two brass candelabra worth a total of $25.00, and an engraving entitled A Glimpse of an English Homestead. The total value of all the items inventoried in the house was $731.20. The division of the estate was settled by June when $11,000 was awarded to each of Halls brothers and the remaining money and household goods to her two sisters. In 1888, Halls Virginia farm, Netherfauld, was purchased by Colonel Presley Marion Rixey, who would serve as White House physician under President McKinley and as Surgeon General under Teddy Roosevelt. He and his wife resided in Halls farmhouse until it burned in the early-20th century, and they built the mansion that remains as part of Marymount University (Templeman 1959:134135; Arlington County Vertical Files [1980s]). The Halls also sold the house in Washington. By 1893 the Institution for the Education of Colored Youth owned the house at 349 Maryland Avenue and used it as a school (District of Columbia General Assessments 1893). When Elizabeth Hall died in 1896, she was living in a three-room house several blocks away at 945 Maryland Avenue. Elizabeth died with a will, and her estate of $21,050 was divided among her sister Lavinia, her surviving brother, and the five children of her other brother, Basil Hall, who had died (DCSC 1896). Elizabeth was buried beside her sisters in Congressional Cemetery, and her name was added to the large marble monument. Lavinia apparently remained in Washington, dying in 1904,

also with a sizable estate. Unlike those of her sisters, the inventory of Lavinias belongings included an extensive list of clothing, jewelry, and personal items (DCSC 1904). By the time Mary Ann Hall died, the neighborhood surrounding her house was one of the poorer sections of the city, and Louse Alley was known for its bawdy houses of colored women (Weller 1909:73). During a series of Senate hearings in 1912 and 1913 that dealt with the issue of prostitution in Washington, the superintendent of the citys Gospel Mission concluded after a tour of all of the citys red-light districts, that Louse Alley was the worst (U.S. Senate Committee 1913:1214). The hearings led to a 1914 law banning houses of prostitution in the District of Columbia. By the time the law was passed, police had already reportedly cleared Louse Alley of its bawdy houses. In the early 1930s all of the buildings were razed and the block converted to public park land. Although she was certainly known to many in her day, the memory of Mary Ann Hall and her high-class parlor house faded after 349 Maryland Avenue was demolished. Until the recent study of Reservation C, the archaeological remains of Halls house remained hidden beneath the soil. Likewise, the story of her successful business survives only in fragments of information scattered throughout the archival collections in the city where she worked and the county where she had her farm retreat. ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
Data recovery investigations for the Mall museum site of the National Museum of the American Indian, which included the documentary research reported in this paper, were sponsored by the Smithsonian Institution. The investigaitons were conducted by John Milner Associates, Inc., under contract to Venturi, Scott Brown and Associates, Inc.

1853 Arlington County Deed Book, Liber 6 Folio 510. Microfilm, Virginia Room, Arlington County Main Library, Arlington, VA.

ELIZABETH BARTHOLD OBRIENIllicit Congress in the Nations Capital



[1980s] Historic BuildingsRixey Mansion. Arlington County Vertical Files, Virginia Room, Arlington County Main Library, Arlington, VA. 1886 Bloomingdales Illustrated 1886 Catalogue, Fashions, Dry Goods, and Housewares. Facsimile of 1886 original reprinted in 1988 by Dover Publications, Inc., New York, NY. 1883 Mysteries and Miseries of Americas Great Cities, Embracing New York, Washington City, San Francisco, Salt Lake City, and New Orleans. Historical Publishing Co., St. Louis, MO. 18501875 Boyds Washington and Georgetown Directory. Andrew Boyd, Washington, DC. 18761885 Boyds Directory of the District of Columbia. William H. Boyd, Washington, DC. 1901 Four and One Half Street, SW. D.C. Street Survey, Lot 11350, Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress, Washington, DC. 1897 Typical Alley Houses in Washington. The Womans Anthropological Society, Bulletin, No. 7. Gibson Brothers, Washington, DC. 18401870 Minutes. District of Columbia Board of Health. District of Columbia Archives, Washington, DC. 1878 District of Columbia Building Permits 18771926. Microfilm, National Archives, Washington, DC. 18291887 General Assessments. National Archives, Washington, DC. 18861934 GeneralAssessments. Microfilm, Washingtoniana Room, Martin Luther King, Jr., Branch, District of Columbia Public Library, Washington. 1886 Papers relating to the Estate of Mary Ann Hall. District of Columbia Archives, Washington. 1896 Papers relating to the Estate of Elizabeth Hall. District of Columbia Archives, Washington. 1904 Papers relating to the Estate of Lavinia Hall. District of Columbia Archives, Washington. 18391879 Tax Books. National Archives, Washington, DC. 1869 The Sights and Secrets of the National Capital. United States Publishing Company, New York, NY.


18621873 The Evening Star. Microfilm, Washingtoniana Division, Martin Luther King, Jr., Branch, District of Columbia Public Library, Washington. 1992 City of Eros: New York City, Prostitution, and the Commercialization of Sex, 17901920. W.W. Norton and Company, New York, NY. 1990 Uneasy Virtue: The Politics of Prostitution and the American Reform Tradition. University of Chicago Press, Chicago, IL. 1887 Real Estate Plat-Book of Washington, District of Columbia. Griffith M. Hopkins, Philadelphia, PA. 1941 Reveille in Washington: 18601865. Harper, New York, NY. 1994 The Story the Soldiers Wouldnt Tell: Sex in the Civil War. Stackpole Books, Mechanicsville, PA. 1862a Daily Returns of Precincts 18611887. Records of the District of Columbia, RG 351, National Archives, Washington, DC. 1862b General and Special Orders 18621863. Records of the District of Columbia, RG 351, National Archives, Washington, DC. 1895 Montgomery Ward and Co. Catalogue and Buyers Guide, Spring and Summer 1895. Unabridged facsimile of the original edition reprinted in 1969 by Dover Publications Inc., New York, NY. 1888 Fire Insurance Map of Washington, D.C. Map Company, New York, NY. Sanborn




















1939 The History of Prostitution, new edition. Eugenics Publishing Company, New York, NY. Originally published in 1858. 1894 District of Columbia Police. Washington, DC. 1959 Arlington Heritage. Arlington, VA. Gibson Brothers,




Eleanor Lee Templeman,


18641865 Bawdy Houses Provost Marshals Department of Washington, 22nd Army Corps. Record Group 393, Vol. 299, National Archives, Washington, DC.




1840 Manuscript Population Census of the United States, 1840. Microfilm, National Archives, Washington, DC. 1850 Manuscript Population Census of the United States, 1850. Microfilm, National Archives, Washington, DC. 1860 Manuscript Population Census of the United States, 1860. Microfilm, National Archives, Washington, DC. 1870 Manuscript Population Census of the United States, 1870. Microfilm, National Archives, Washington, DC. 1880 Manuscript Population Census of the United States, 1880. Microfilm, National Archives, Washington, DC. 1900 Manuscript Population Census of the United States, 1900. Microfilm, National Archives, Washington, DC. 1910 Manuscript Population Census of the United States, 1910. Microfilm, National Archives, Washington, DC. 1913 Abatement of Houses of Ill Fame: Hearings before a subcommittee of the Committee of the District of Columbia. 62nd Congress, 3rd Session on S. Doc. 5861.


1927 Charitable and Reformatory Institutions of the District of Columbia. 69th Congress, 2nd Session, S. Doc. 207. 1909 Neglected Neighbors: Stories of Life in the Alleys, Tenements, and Shanties of the National Capital. J. C. Winston, Philadelphia, PA. [1895] Unidentified newspaper clipping, Geography and Map Division, Library of Congress, Washington, DC.






Donna J. Seifert Joseph Balicki

Mary Ann Halls House

Archaeological data recovery investigations were conducted at the site of the new National Museum of the American Indian on the National Mall in Washington, DC. Investigations included excavations on two lots, one that included Mary Ann Halls mid-19th-century brothel and the adjacent lot that included deposits associated with the brothels occupation. The archaeological record complemented the historical record, confirming that the brothel was a highclass establishment. The brothels 1860s deposits yielded evidence of expensive ceramics, champagne, and a wide variety of foods. Comparison of the artifact assemblage from Halls brothel with mid-19th-century family households in Washington, DC, supports the interpretation that the brothel purchased expensive consumer goods. Comparison of Halls brothel with other brothel assemblages in Washington, DC, revealed no simple brothel artifact signature but illustrated economic-status differences among the brothels.

Introduction The Smithsonian Institutions National Museum of the American Indian opened in 2004 on the National Mall in Washington, DC. The striking design of the museum is complemented by a landscape so different from its surroundings that the museum design team refers to it as the buildings habitat. This landscape evokes the sites prehistoric setting, marshlands along a creek that flowed into the nearby Potomac River. Visitors to the new museum will surely note the contrast between this building and its setting and the neighboring museums and government office buildings. They are unlikely to even imagine the setting in the mid-19th century, when this land was occupied by industrial, commercial, and residential buildings, including one of the largest brothels in the capital city. Data recovery investigations at the National Museum of the American Indian (NMAI) Mall museum site were conducted by John Milner Associates (Seifert et al. 1998) to assist the Smithsonian Institution in complying with

Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966, as amended. One area, Lot 11, contained eligible resources that were thought to be associated with alley dwellings at the back of the lot (Figure 1). Below these deposits were older deposits that predated development and occupation of the lot. The only nearby occupation was Mary Ann Halls brothel on the adjacent lot. The lot occupied by the brothel was tested, but only architectural remains dating to the occupation of the brothel were found. Several units were excavated near the back of Lot 11, and 10 of these included deposits from the 1860s that have been associated with the Hall brothel. Deposits included a yard surface and a midden dated to the 1860s, but no pit or shaft features (Seifert et al. 1998: 8,93,115). Stratigraphic superposition, datable artifacts, mean ceramic dates, and terminus post quem dates were used to date the deposits. A fill layer associated with a ca. 1871 municipal construction project overlays the brothel deposits. Upper deposits contain material related to ca. 1870s working-class households. This paper focuses on the ca. 1860 deposits that are associated with the brothel. Several analytical techniques were used to understand the material culture from Halls brothel and to compare it with collections from other brothels and from working-class and middle-class households in Washington, DC. Collections from 19th-century working-class and middle-class households were selected as well as collections from other 19th-century brothels. The comparative collections are from four other archaeological investigations in Washington, DC. Collections from these sites were compared using artifact pattern analysis. Groups and classes of artifacts were then examined to study more closely the types of consumer goods purchased by the brothel inmates (resident prostitutes) and by members of other households. Household Types The archaeological collections selected for comparison represent Washington, DC, house-

Historical Archaeology, 2005, 39(1):5973. Permission to reprint required. Accepted for publication 11 November 2003.



Figure 1. The project area, museum excavation line, excavations, and historic Reservation C (based on Sanborn 1888, Baist 1929, and Greenhorne & OMara 1992).

holds occupied between 1844 and 1914 (Figure 2, Table 1). The collections also represent four household types: middle-class owner, middleclass tenant, working-class tenant, and brothel. In some cases, the deposits were associated with specific household residents documented in the census or city directory. The associations are most likely to be reliable for households occupied by middle-class owners. For households occupied by working-class tenants or prostitutes, the research team considered the data on residents less reliable. These types of residents are more likely to move frequently, and prostitutes may have used more than one name, as prostitute Ellen Starr did (Seifert 1994:150). In some cases, the occupants associated with an archaeological deposit could not be identified. In each case, the general character of the neighborhood is known from historical docu-

ments. It is reasonable to assess the available documentary evidence, speculate on household type, and compare the archaeological collection with other collections of known household type to evaluate the speculation (Seifert et al. 1998: 163168). Brothels were households occupied by two or more prostitutes who are tenants. These households generally included an older woman who is listed as boardinghouse keeper; the household may also have included servants. Middle-class households were those occupied by skilled workers and merchants. Most of the middleclass households were composed of a family that owned its home. Working-class households included skilled and unskilled laborers who rented their dwellings. These households often included families and unrelated boarders. Data



Figure 2. Locations of the project area (National Museum of the American Indian, Reservation C) and selected sites used in the analysis (U.S. Geological Survey 1983).

on occupation, which are available in the technical reports used in the comparative analysis, were drawn from the census and city directories. The earliest of the comparative collections is from Area D1, Square 373 (Garrow 1982). This collection, from a trash midden deposited between 1844 and 1857, was associated with a single household, probably of the middle class. Two collections associated with middleclass households and dated to the 1850s were selected: Phase 15-3b from Square 530 and Locus 9 from Square 455 (Cheek et al. 1996; Glumac et al. 1997). All three of these collections are probably earlier than the deposits in Lot 11 from Halls brothel. Comparison with these earlier collections helps to place the brothel collection within the context of the material culture of 19th-century Washington, DC. The collection from Phase 6a, Square 258, was excavated from the neighborhood historically known as Hookers Division (Cheek et al. 1991). This collection, from a deposit dating from the 1860s and 1870s,

was not assigned to a household type; however, the neighborhood was primarily occupied by working-class tenants during this period. The collections from Lots 15 and 19 on Square 530, which date to the 1860s, were associated with middle-class resident owners (Cheek et al. 1996). The collection from Locus 4, Square 455, associated with an owner-occupant who was a druggist, dates from the 1850s to the mid-1870s (Glumac et al. 1997). Two collections from working-class tenant households on Square 455, Locus 3 and Locus 6, have been combined for this analysis. Together, these collections date from the 1850s to the 1880s. Two collections from working-class tenant households from Square 257258 have been combined; these collections date from 1870 to 1890 (Cheek et al. 1991). Artifact Pattern Analysis Artifact pattern analysis, based on Stanley Souths method (1997), has been used success-



Lot and Street Address Lot 11,347 Maryland Ave, SW Lot 11, 345347 Maryland Ave, SW; 358, 356, 354 Amory Place Lot 31, 317 1312 Street Lot 12, 1369 Ohio Ave, NW Lot E, 1359 Ohio Ave, NW Lot B, 1353 Ohio Ave, NW Lot 1, 312 1312 Street, NW Lot E, 1359 Ohio Ave, NW Lot B, 1353 Ohio Ave, NW Lot 27, 1309 C Street, NW Lot 15, 622 3rd Street, NW Lot 15, 622 3rd Street, NW Lot 19, 608 3rd Street, NW 919 I Street, NW Phase 15-3b Phase 15-3c Phase 19-3 Area D1 Phase 3b Phase 4b Phase 7 Phase 4a Phase 5a brothel Phase 1 Phase 3a working-class tenant Phase 6a Phase III, Phase IV working-class tenant Phase VII, Phase IX brothel on Lot 12 Units of Analysis Household Type Date 18601870 18711886

Project Name and Report Citation


National Museum of the American Indian Mall Museum Site 51SW14 Seifert et al. 1997

Reservation C (Reservation 6)

Federal Triangle (Hooker's Division) 51NW82 Cheek et al. 1991

Squares 257, 258

unassigned [working-class tenant]

18601870 18701890




Square 530

middle-class owner middle-class owner

18501860 18601870

Washington Metropolitan Field Office, FBI 51NW106 Cheek et al. 1996

DC Civic Center 51NW141 Garrow 1982 Lot 803 [2], 607 F Street, NW Lot 18, 612616 G Street, NW Lots 31, 31 [19, 20, 21] 618620 6th Street, NW Lot 825 [14], 638 F Street, NW

Square 373

unassigned [middle-class tenant]


DC Arena 51NW115 Glumac et al. 1997

Square 455

Locus 9 Locus 4 Locus 3 Locus 6

middle-class renter middle-class owner working-class tenant working-class tenant

18501870 18501875 18501870 18501880




fully to compare assemblages from 19th-century households in Washington, DC. (Garrow 1982; Cheek et al. 1991, 1996). This analysis is most useful when contemporaneous households of various types are compared with each other. Comparisons of one household type at various points in time are interesting but more difficult to interpret. This paper focuses on comparisons of brothels. Comparisons of brothels with contemporaneous working-class and middle-class households were used to understand how the artifact assemblages of brothels differed from that of kin-based households. Because pattern analysis is limited to gross comparison, other methods were used to understand the types and values of household goods and to assess the economic status of the brothels. The functional groups and classes within the groups used in the pattern analysis were further examined to look at purchasing patterns. Analyses of the ceramic assemblages included vessel analysis, calculation of indices (following Miller 1980, 1991), and proportions of wares in the assemblage of each household type. Analysis of bottle glass addressed the types and proportions of beverages and pharmaceuticals in each assemblage. Artifacts in the activities and personal groups were examined in detail. Previous research has shown that these small groups may provide particularly useful information on the material culture of brothel inmates (Seifert 1991, 1994). Minimum numbers of vessels were calculated for ceramics, bottles, and glass tableware. The kitchen and architecture artifacts together consistently account for more than 90% of each of the Washington, DC, collections compared (Table 2). Kitchen artifacts range from 83% to 60%. The highest percentages are from Halls brothel and from middle-class households on Square 530. These high percentages are interpreted as evidence of the ability of these households to purchase large quantities of consumer goods. The high percentage of kitchen artifacts may also reflect the size of Halls household, both in terms of the number of inmates who regularly ate there and clients who purchased meals and drinks during visits. During the Civil War, when Halls brothel had 18 inmates, the household was probably twice the size of working-class households in the neighborhood. Brothels frequently served alcohol and food to

clients (Sanger 1939:551; Rosen 1982:9495). The number of meals prepared and served in the brothel greatly exceeded those eaten in working-class households. The frequency of artifacts related to the use of tobacco is lowest in the brothel collection (Table 2). This low frequency is surprising, since one would expect brothel clients to indulge in smoking during their visits. Perhaps clients used tobacco products that left no remains in the archaeological record, while members of family households who smoked used the clay pipes recovered in those excavations. Only in the brothel are clothing artifacts higher than 1%. These artifacts, primarily garment closures and shoes, may reflect greater expenditures on personal attire by the brothel inmates. Artifacts in the activities group account for nearly 2% of the brothel collection. Flower pot fragments and lamp chimney glass account for many of the objects in this group. Artifact patterns were compared for three brothel collections (Table 3). The collections compared with Halls brothel are from brothels dated to 18701890 and 18901914 from Square 257258, in the Washington, DC, red-light district known as Hookers Division (Seifert 1991). The collections from the brothels of three periods exhibit distinctly different patterns, indicating that household function alone does not account for artifact pattern. The percentage of kitchen artifacts is high for Halls brothel but low (ca. 50%) for the other brothels. The status of Halls brothel may account for the high percentage of kitchen artifacts. Halls brothel was a well-known, high-class business in the 1860s (OBrien, this volume). The brothels in Hookers Division in 18701890 probably did not serve the same class of clientele that frequented Halls. The 18901914 brothels in Hookers Division appear to have enjoyed a higher standard of living than their predecessors in the neighborhood. Differences in other artifact groups are probably a function of purchasing power. The 18701890 brothels have the lowest percentage of clothing artifacts (under 1%); Halls brothel has over 1%, but the 18901914 brothels have over 2%. The clothing group in Halls brothel assemblage is composed primarily of shoe parts; buttons account for most of the objects in this group for the Square 257258 collections. The



Res. C VII, IX B 18601870 13.50% 82.86% 1.22% .04% .22% .01% .20% 1.93% 96.36% 20,982 1,917 97.65% 1.20% .78% .45% .49% 94.54% 2,639 .16% 4.51% .21% 76.68% 62.75% 20.97% 31.79% 36.83% 60.06% .40% .54% 1.46% .71% 96.89% 12,889 18601870 18501875 18501880 WCT MCH WCT WCT 18711886 20.01% 72.59% .57% .16% .20% .10% 6.28% 92.60% 1,589 Sq 257258 6a Sq 455 L4 Sq 455 L3, L6 Res. C III, IV Sq 257258 1, 3a WCT 18701890 19.00% 72.74% .42% .49% .05% 1.03% 6.25% 90.74% 2,032

Sq 373 D1

Sq 530 15-3b

Sq 455 L9

MCH 18601870 15.70% 81.68% .16% .25% 1.39% .82% 97.38% 1,223



Sq 530 15-3c 19-3 MCH

Artifact group





























Key MCH=middle-class household B=brothel WCT=working-class tenant P=personal R=arms T=tobacco Z=activities

A=architecture K=kitchen C=clothing F=furniture

A+K=architecture plus kitchen N=total count




Reservation C Phases VII, IX Artifact Group A K C F P R T Z A+K N Key A=architecture K= kitchen C=clothing F=furniture 18601870 13.50% 82.86% 1.22% .04% .22% .01% .20% 1.93% 96.36% 20,982 3.02% 2.79% 92.79% 1,291 .54% Square 257258 Phases 4a, 5a 18701890 43.14% 49.65% .85% Square 257258 Phases 3b, 4b, 7 18901914 31.72% 50.73% 2.22% .24% 1.16% .02% 1.27% 12.63% 82.44% 10,668

P=Personal R=arms T=tobacco Z=activities

A+K=architecture plus kitchen N=total count

18901914 brothel collections include black glass buttons interpreted as a reflection of the fancy clothes worn by the resident prostitutes (Seifert 1991:9899). The low percentage of artifacts related to tobacco use in the assemblage from Halls brothel is difficult to explain. Assemblages from both Square 257258 brothels exhibit higher percentages, especially the 18701890 assemblage. The difference between the Square 257258 percentages may reflect the decreasing use of pipes and increasing use of cigarettes by the turn of the century (Peiss 1986:99; Cook 1989:224). Personal artifacts in Halls brothel and the 18701890 brothel collection account for less than 1% of each collection. This group accounts for more than 1% of the 18901914 brothels. Although the percentages vary, the composition of the group is similar: mirror fragments, hairpins and combs, and jewelry parts are represented along with writing implements and coins. The differences in the percentages represented by the activities group are dramatic. This group accounts for over 12% of the 18901914 brothel collection; the percentages are much lower for

both other collections. Lamp chimney glass accounts for most of this group in the 18901914 collection. Lamp chimney glass and flower pot fragments are well represented in both other collections, but the high numbers of chimney glass fragments in the 18901914 collection account for the high percentage. This high percentage has been interpreted as evidence of night work (Seifert 1991:100101). Since the inmates of Halls brothel probably worked nights as well, the low percentage of lighting glass is puzzling. Perhaps Halls brothel continued to use candles along with the new kerosene (coal oil) lamps that became popular in the 1860s (Woodhead et al. 1984:48,58). Incandescent gas lighting became popular in the late-19th century (Woodhead et al. 1984:61), and the 18901914 brothel collections may represent households that used both kerosene and incandescent gas lighting. Pattern analysis demonstrated that brothel assemblages are different from working-class households, but brothels of different periods and statuses are different from each other. There is no simple brothel pattern, no clear artifact signature that reveals a brothel in the archaeological record. Brothels generally yield unusual artifact assemblages that differ



from those of their neighbors, but analysis of primary documents was critical in identifying the Washington, DC, brothels and interpreting their archaeological assemblages. Ceramics and Consumer Choice Closer examination of the ceramic wares among the collections revealed important differences in purchasing patterns. Comparison of ceramics from Halls brothel with other types of households and with other brothels exhibited important differences in the collections (Tables 4, 5). More than 50% of the collection from Halls brothel is ironstone and porcelain. White ironstone tablewares became popular in the late 1850s, and the high percentage of this ware suggests attention to fashion. The high percentage of porcelain also suggests expenditures for expensive tablewares. While other households in the comparative sample continued to use pearlwares and whitewares, Halls tables were set with white ironstone and porcelain. The high percentage of porcelain separates this assemblage from all of the comparative collections. Most of the ironstone and porcelain dishes in the brothel collection are white and undecorated. There is little evidence that dishes were purchased as sets, although similar dishes were apparently selected. Some plates, cups, and saucers are decorated with a gilt band near the rim. There are also several white, paneled cups and saucers in both ironstone and porcelain, a style referred to as Gothic (Wall 1991:76) that was popular in middle-class family households, particularly for family dining (Wall 1991:78). Apparently, the Gothic style, interpreted as a symbol of the middle-class Christian home, the sanctuary of domesticity (Wall 1994:160; Fitts and Yamin 1996:9596), was also a preferred style in Halls brothel. Perhaps the Gothic-style ironstone and porcelain was used primarily by the brothel inmates, and the gilt-decorated porcelains were used by visitors to the house. If dinnerware and tea ware in the Gothic style were selected by middle-class wives to evoke a feeling of domestic security and morality, this style would surely have been an unlikely choice for entertaining in a high-class brothel. The collection from Halls brothel is also unusual in its high percentages of redware,

yellowware, and stoneware food-preparation and storage vessels. These utilitarian wares account for 30% of the Hall collection but only 10% to 19% of the comparative collections (Tables 4, 5). The high percentages of two expensive tablewares and three utility wares support the interpretation that the brothel was preparing and serving meals to a large household of inmates and to clients. The high percentage of kitchengroup artifacts in the brothel collection supports this interpretation as well. Comparison of ceramic wares from the later brothels in Hookers Division reflects the different economic status of those brothels (Seifert 1991). The 18701890 brothel collection exhibits percentages of wares that are similar to those of contemporaneous working-class households from the same neighborhood, but the 18901914 brothels show some similarities to Halls brothel. The percentages of ironstone and porcelain are lower in the 18901914 brothel collection, although these percentages are higher than percentages for these wares in contemporaneous workingclass households in Square 257258 (Cheek et al. 1991:table 5). The differences between Hookers Division collections are not as dramatic as those seen when comparing Halls brothel with contemporaneous households. Percentages of utility wares are also relatively high in the 18901914 brothels. Ceramic evidence from these collections, as well as zooarchaeological data indicating high frequencies of expensive, individual meat cuts, suggests that these brothels were also serving meals to clients (Cheek et al. 1991:55; Seifert 1991:103). Analysis of vessel forms also provides data useful in understanding household function (Tables 6, 7). Vessel forms were divided into seven general classes that reflect the functions of ceramic vessels in the household. Many of the vessels in each collection could not be assigned to a form class, and data were not available for the comparative collections from Square 455. The percentage of tablewares in the brothel collection is higher than the percentages from the contemporaneous working-class collections, and the percentage of tea and coffee vessels is lower (Table 7). The most striking difference is in the higher percentages of serving vessels and food preparation vessels. These higher percentages support the conclusion that the brothels were serving a large household and were serving


Res. C VII, IX Sq 257258 6a Sq 455 L4 Sq 455 L3, L6 Res. C III, IV Sq 257258 1, 3a WCT 18701890 .83% .35% 50.75% 7.24% 5.12% 3.31% 6.85% 5.14% 2.68% 1,342 4.69% 4.38% 5,565 32.09% 39.57% 8.29% 3.74% 8.06% 7.20% .69% 1,736 963 9.14% 46.42% 18.48% 3.53% 10.49% 1.45% 9.66%

Sq 530 15-3b

Sq 455 L9

Ware 3.34% 33.69% 45.64% 4.52% 2.37% 5.71% 1.72% 2.26% .75% 929 8,829 766 1.59% .90% 6.60% 4.70% 9.32% .70% 14.91% 8.1% 6.18% 2.01% 26.61% 4.80% 15.42% 29.24% 2.90% 1.94% 11.69% 53.60% 43.52% .06% 11.60% 20.27% 12.90% 2.83% 1.56% 16.10%

MCH 18501860

MCH 1850 1870

Sq 530 15-3c 19-3 MCH 18601870 B 18601870 WCT 18601870 MCH 18501875 WCT 18501880

WCT 18711886































Key MCH=middle-class household B=brothel WCT=working-class tenant N=total count





Reservation C Phases VII, IX Ware Creamware Pearlware Whiteware Ironstone Porcelain Redware Yellowware Stoneware Unidentified N .06% 11.69% 29.24% 26.61% 14.91% 9.32% 6.60% 1.59% 8,829 18601870 Sq 257258 Phases 4a, 5 18701890 2.88% 6.64% 53.54% 19.03% 3.98% 2.65% 1.55% 7.96% 1.77% 452 Sq 257258 Phases 3b, 4b, 7 18901914 .32% 2.24% 29.49% 26.20% 14.26% 15.30% 8.49% 2.56% .88% 1,248


Sq. 373 D1 MCH Vessel Form Tableware Serving Tea/Coffee Food Preparation Hygiene Other Unassigned N 1844 1857 22.7% 10.5% 26.5% 10.1% 2.5% 4.2% 23.5% 272 42.6% 54 Sq. 530 15-3b MCH 18501860 22.2% 3.7% 27.8% 3.7% 25.84% 5.62% 3.37% 1.12% 34.83% 89 14.16% 353 44.00% 73 20.29% 70 Sq. 530 15-3c 19-3 MCH 18601870 29.1% Res. C VII, IX B 18601870 31.73% 15.86% 21.81% 13.31% 3.12% Sq. 257258 258 6a WCT 18601870 13.60% 4.20% 30.10% 5.40% 2.70% Res. C III, IV WCT 18711886 37.68% 7.25% 20.29% 10.14% 4.35% 1.70% 28.80% 153 Sq. 257258 258 1, 3a WCT 1870 1890 45.80% 5.90% 12.40% 5.20%

Key MCH=middle-class household B=brothel WCT=working-class tenant N=total count

meals to clients. Although relative percentages of tableware, serving vessels, and tea and coffee vessels vary, particularly among the working-class households, no other collection had so many serving and preparation vessels.

The collections associated with the 18701890 working-class households have high percentages of tablewares and low percentages of serving vessels. These percentages suggest that serving vessels were generally not used to bring




Reservation C Phases VII, IX Vessel Form Tableware Serving Tea/Coffee Food Preparation Hygiene Other Unassigned N 14.16% 69 36.00% 89 18601870 31.73% 15.86% 21.81% 13.31% 3.12% Sq 257258 Phases 4a, 5a 18701890 22.50% 7.80% 23.60% 7.80% 2.20% Sq 257258 Phases 3b, 4b, 7 18901914 28.00% 7.20% 25.10% 7.70% 2.40% 6.80% 23.20% 207

food to the table in these households. Notable differences are seen in the percentages of tea and coffee vessels and food preparation vessels. The low percentages of tea and coffee vessels in the Hookers Division working-class collections suggest that serving tea was not an important household activity in those households. Comparison of brothels from three time periods reveals higher percentages of tea and coffee vessels in the later collections but lower percentages of tableware, serving vessels, and food preparation vessels. Although the vessel analysis indicates that Halls brothel served meals to clients, the vessel analysis does not support the interpretation that the later brothels served meals to clients. Halls brothel was a first-class brothel serving men of means who probably expected to purchase expensive food and champagne when they visited the house. The later brothels do not appear to have served the same class of clientele or offered the same range of amenities. A more sensitive indicator of household expenditures for ceramics is the Miller ceramic index. Analysis of indices provides a means of comparing expenditures among households and assessing economic status. George Miller (1980) developed a series of index values based on price lists and on the cost of the least expensive ware, common creamware. Decorated types were more expensive than plain types, and ironstone and porcelain were more expensive than most of the refined earth-

enwares (creamware, pearlware, and whiteware). Millers indices apply to ceramics from 1787 to 1886. Susan Henry (1987) developed complementary indices for the late-19th and early-20th centuries, using mail-order catalogues. Millers indices were used in the analysis of the Hall collection; Henrys indices were used for the later comparative collections. The mean ceramic date of the deposit was used to select the appropriate year and value. Millers indices include values for few English porcelains, so values were calculated first without including porcelain. Porcelain accounts for 27% of the Hall collection. To incorporate porcelain in the indices, a value of 4.00 was assigned to all porcelain, without regard to decoration (Tables 8, 9). This value is probably conservative. Porcelain was included in the original analysis of the ceramics from Area Dl, Square 373, at a value of 4.55 (Garrow 1982:116,125). By incorporating porcelain in the index values for Halls brothel, the brothels expenditures for ceramics can be compared with those of other households. The mean index value for the collection from Halls brothel is the highest value of all the collections. The value for refined earthenwares is higher than each of the indices from middle-class households, and when porcelain is included in all indices, the difference is even more striking. Only the bowl index for the brothel collection is lower than some of the other bowl indices. The high percentage of




Sq 373 D1 MCH Vessel Type Cup & Saucer Plate Bowl Mean Index

Sq 530 15-3b MCH 18501860 1.78/2.52 2.15/2.15 3.0/3.0 2.07/2.32

Sq 530 15-3c 19-3 MCH 18601870 1.24/1.24 1.59/1.59 2.92/2.92 1.73/1.73

Res. C VII, IX B 18601870 3.32/3.57 2.75/3.18 1.77/2.21 2.76/3.18

Sq 257258 6a,1c WCT 18601870 1.84/1.96 1.18/1.43 1.08/1.08 1.62/1.79

Res. C III, IV WCT 18711886 2.20/2.38 2.03/2.19 1.94/1.94 2.06/2.21

Sq 257258 1, 3a WCT 1870 1890 1.88/1.98 1.38/1.79 1.44/1.44 1.51/1.75

18441857 2.30/2.79 2.17/2.17 1.43/1.43 2.04/2.23

The first index is calculated for refined earthenwares only; the second index includes porcelain at a value of 4.00.

Key MCH=middle-class household B=brothel WCT=working-class tenant


Reservation C Phases VII, IX Vessel Type Cup & Saucer Plate Bowl Mean Index

Sq 257258 Phase 4a, 5a 18701890 1.83/2.17 1.50/1.50 2.78/2.78 1.82/1.99

Sq 257258 Phase 3b, 4b, 7 18901914 1.98/2.15 1.25/1.37 1.11/1.59 1.58/1.70

18601870 3.32/3.57 2.75/3.18 1.77/2.21 2.76/3.18

The first index is calculated for refined earthware only; the second index includes porcelain at a value of 4.00 for the 18601870 and 18701890 collections. The porcelain values cited by Henry (1987) were used for the 18901914 deposits.

porcelain and ironstone vessels accounts for the high individual and mean indices in the brothel collection. Comparison of the indices from Halls brothel with the brothel collections from Hookers Division indicates that these later brothels were buying less expensive tablewares and tea and coffee vessels. The indices for the late brothels are the lowest, suggesting low expenditures for dishes, even though these households were apparently consuming expensive meat cuts (Cheek et al. 1991:70).

Foodways Analysis of the faunal remains from Halls brothel also reflects purchasing and consumption patterns that differ from those of the neighboring working-class households and suggests some expensive purchases (Seifert et al. 1998:appendix VIII). The inmates of Halls brothel enjoyed a diet of domestic animals supplemented with wild birds, turtle, and fish. No wild mammals were identified in the collection. The proportion of fish, turtle, and wild



bird biomass, and the dietary variety that these foods reflect, may be a function of economic status or ethnicity. Higher frequencies of these species appear in assemblages associated with high-income Euro-American households in the Atlantic coastal plain. The greater reliance on fish, turtle, and wild bird in the brothel collection suggests that the brothel was able to purchase a variety of specialty foods and delicacies in local markets. The collection from the brothel suggests that turtles and birds represent nearly equal and significant percentages of the biomass. Beef comprised the highest percentage of biomass (42%), followed by pork (37%), and mutton/goat (21%). Meat cuts represented in the brothel collection are primarily high- to medium-priced cuts of beef, pork, and mutton/ goat. Laying hens were also apparently kept and consumed by the brothel residents. The faunal remains from the brothel reflect a diet that included more turtle meat, fish, wild bird, and beef than the diet of their workingclass neighbors, which exhibited less variety and more reliance on pork and chicken. Wild foods are not common in the working-class deposits. Meat was probably purchased at local markets, although a few remains were recovered that could represent refuse from secondary butchering or carcass trimming (Seifert et al. 1998:194, appendix VIII). Evidence of plant foods also reflects a diet with more variety than the working-class diet. Raspberry, strawberry, fig, grape, apple, cherry/ plum, elderberry, peach, bean, squash, walnut, and coconut were identified in the deposits associated with Halls brothel. Berries and beans may have been grown in a backyard garden adjacent to the brothel, although these may have been purchased with other fruits and vegetables at local markets. Consumption of champagne in the brothel is reflected by bottles, corks, and bales. Contemporary sources report that only champagne, not wine or beer, was served in first-class brothels (Sanger 1939:550). Archaeological evidence here is consistent with the classification of Halls brothel in the provost marshals list as a first-class house (U.S. Army Corps of Engineers 18641865; OBrien, this volume). The paucity of drinking glasses in the assemblage is, however, puzzling. Either vessels of materials

other than glass were used, or the champagne glasses were not disposed of with the rest of the household refuse. Neither explanation is satisfying, but the archaeological remains offer no other evidence. Conclusion Archaeological evidence from deposits associated with Mary Ann Halls brothel reflects a large household that enjoyed many expensive consumer goods and a varied diet. This interpretation is supported by documentary evidence. When compared with family households in Washington, DC, the material culture of Halls brothel shares many attributes of the middleclass households and clearly exhibits higher expenditures for tablewares and food than the neighboring working-class households. Comparisons among Washington, DC, brothels revealed no single brothel pattern or artifact signature. Brothel assemblages are different from neighboring middle- and working-class household assemblages, but brothel assemblages also reflect differences within the household type. Brothel assemblages are peculiar, but they are peculiar in different ways for different time periods and economic classes. The archaeology of the brothel reflects household composition (inmates and clients) and dual function as residence and workplace. For the kin-based households in 19th-century Washington, DC, home and workplace were separate for at least some members of the household. Certainly work was done in the home, but this work was primarily the work of running the household, not wage labor. Place of employment was outside the home. The brothel, however, served as both residence and workplace for the prostitutes, and nonresident clients spent time and money in the house. In addition to the sexual services they purchased, clients also purchased food and beverages, at least in Halls house. While physical evidence of the services is lacking, the archaeological assemblage yielded evidence of the expensive libations and varied comestibles and their elegant presentation. Considered together, the documentary and archaeological records reveal a well-known and well-appointed household, just at the foot of Capitol Hill.



Data recovery investigations at the Mall museum site of the National Museum of the American Indian were sponsored by the Smithsonian Institution and conducted by John Milner Associates, Inc., under contract to Venturi, Scott Brown and Associates, Inc. Justin Estoque, Smithsonian Institution Office of the Physical Plant, facilitated every step of the process and maintained interest in both the research results and finding ways to share these results with the professional community and the public. The success of an excavation rests with the field team, and JMA was well served by the team that worked in this site. The field team, which included Bryan Corle, Jason Shields, Charles Goode, and Jennifer Green, was supervised by Joseph Balicki with the assistance of Dana B. Heck. Analysis of the floral and faunal collections was conducted by Leslie E. Raymer, Richard A. Fuss, and Lisa D. OSteen of New South Associates, Inc. Gerald K. Kelso analyzed the pollen samples, and Irwin Rovner analyzed the phytolith samples. Our understanding of the foodways and land use of the site was enhanced by the interpretations prepared by these specialists. Sarah Ruch and Robert Schultz prepared the graphics used in this paper, and Julie Cruz prepared the data tables. As always, Charles D. Cheek offered his valuable critical assessments of our interpretation.


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1997 Square 455 (51NW115) Archaeological Date Recovery (draft). Report to EDAW, Inc., Alexandria, VA, from Parsons Engineering Science, Fairfax, VA. 1992 Existing Sites Study, National Museum of the American Indian, Mall Museum Located in Washington, DC, and Collections Research Center, Located in Suitland, MD. Report to Smithsonian Institution, Office of Design and Construction, Washington, DC, from Greenhorne & OMara, Inc., Greenbelt, MD. 1987 Factors Influencing Consumer Behavior in Turn-ofthe-Century Phoenix, Arizona. In Consumer Choice in Historical Archaeology, Suzanne M. Spencer-Wood, editor, pp. 359382. Academic Press, New York, NY. 1980 Classification and Economic Scaling of NineteenthCentury Ceramics. Historical Archaeology 14:140. 1991 A Revised Set of CC Index Values for Classification and Economic Scaling of English Ceramics from 1787 to 1880. Historical Archaeology, 25(1):125. 1986 Cheap Amusements: Working Women and Leisure in Turn-of-the-Century New York. Temple University Press, Philadelphia, PA.

1929 Baists Real Estate Atlas of Surveys of Washington, District of Columbia. G. W. Baist, Philadelphia. Map, Geography and Map Division, Library of Congress, Washington, DC.




1996 Archaeological Data Recovery Investigations at the Site of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Washington Metropolitan Field Office, Square 530, Washington, DC. Report to TAMS Consultants, Inc., Arlington, VA, from John Milner Associates, Inc., Alexandria, VA.



1991 Phase II and Phase III Archeological Investigations at the Site of the Proposed International Cultural and Trade Center/Federal Office Complex, Federal Triangle, Washington, DC. Report to the Pennsylvania Avenue Development Corporation, Washington, DC, from John Milner Associates, Inc., Alexandria, VA.





1982 The Lost Sisterhood: Prostitution in America, 19001918. Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore, MD. 1888 Fire Insurance Map of Washington, D.C. Sanborn Map Company, New York. Map, Geography and Map Division, Library of Congress, Washington, DC. 1939 The History of Prostitution, new edition. Eugenics Publishing Company, New York, NY. Originally published in 1858. 1991 Within Sight [Site] of the White House. TheArchaeology of Working Women. Historical Archaeology, 25(4): 82108. 1994 Mrs. Starrs Profession. In Those of Little Note: Gender, Race, and Class in Historical Archeology, Elizabeth M. Scott, editor, pp. 149173. University of Arizona Press, Tucson.



18641865 Bawdy Houses. Provost Marshals Department of Washington, 22nd Army Corps, 18641865. Manuscript, National Archives and Records Administration, Record Group 393, Vol. 298, Washington, DC. 1983 Washington West, D.C.-MD-VA Quadrangle, 7.5minute series. U.S. Geological Survey, Reston, VA. 1991 Sacred Dinners and Secular Teas: Constructing Domesticity in Mid-Nineteenth-Century New York. Historical Archaeology, 25(4):4981. 1994 The Archaeology of Gender: Separating the Spheres in Urban America. Plenum Press, New York, NY. 1984 Lighting Devices in the National Reference Collection, Parks Canada. Studies in Archaeology, Architecture, and History. National Historic Parks and Sites, Parks Canada, Environment Canada, Ottawa, Ontario.







1998 Archeological Data Recovery Smithsonian Institution National Museum of the American Indian Mall Museum Site. Report to the Smithsonian Institution, Office of Physical Plant and Venturi, Scott Brown and Associates, from John Milner Associates, Inc., Alexandria, VA. 1977 Method and Theory in Historical Archeology. Academic Press, New York, NY.




K. Anne Ketz Elizabeth J. Abel Andrew J. Schmidt

Public Image and Private Reality: An Analysis of Differentiation in a NineteenthCentury St. Paul Bordello
In spring 1997, during preparation for construction of the new Science Museum of Minnesota, the brothel of an infamous St. Paul madam and other boardinghouses were uncovered. This archaeological area was designated the Washington Street District. Subsequent data recovery revealed a wealth of archaeological data that contradicted official government documents and addressed some of the many myths and legends surrounding Nina Cliffords bordello. Differences between the artifacts used by the customers and the residents are apparent in vessel types, faunal remains, and other artifact types. Conclusions reflect the relationship between the brothels public image and the reality of the day-to-day lives of the residents. The preponderance of the archaeological evidence for poor health conditions of the residents contradicts the myths of the glamorous sporting life of Nina Cliffords establishment. While the women may have enjoyed higher incomes and better food, it was at a high price.

most eligible one for concentrating the obnoxious houses within. Although state law made prostitution illegal, St. Paul officials had established what amounted to a system of regulation. Each month, warrants would be issued for the madams, who would then appear before the municipal court and pay a fine. Despite the calls of residents of Irvine Park for the mayor to crack down on the houses of ill repute and low saloons, few women were convicted and the monthly fines continued. By the late 1880s, Washington Street between Eagle and Third streets had become the focus for prostitution, and two- and three-story brick boardinghouses lined the block. Nina Cliffords infamous brothel at 147 Washington Street was one of six bawdy houses on the west side of

St. Pauls Nineteenth-Century Red-Light District The new science museum building is located in the area of St. Paul known as the Upper Landing or Uppertown (Figure 1). Although nearby Irvine Park was a fashionable place to live in the 1860s and 1870s, brothels and saloons proliferated in Uppertown by the 1880s. While prostitution and gambling existed throughout the city, St. Pauls accepted vice district was the area around Eagle, Washington, and Franklin streets. By 1881, one St. Paul Pioneer Press report noted, there are now twelve houses of ill fame ... below Third Street, on Exchange, Eagle, Franklin, Washington, and Walnut streets. As one source put it, city authorities had tacitly agreed that the infested locality was the

Figure 1. Location of Upper Landing, or Uppertown, St. Paul, Minnesota.

Historical Archaeology, 2005, 39(1):7488. Permission to reprint required. Accepted for publication 11 November 2003.



Washington Street. The 1900 federal census counted 39 prostitutes at the six addresses between 147 and 165 Washington, or an average of 6.5 per address. In addition, there were 23 other employees (cooks, chambermaids, porters, and musicians) or nearly four per address. The median age of the women was about 22 years, with 72% of them aged 1824. Some 80% of the prostitutes were native-born, and over half of the native-born were from Minnesota. Cliffords place at 147 Washington was the largest brothel, with nine prostitutes and seven other employees (U.S. Bureau of the Census [USBC] 1900). After 1900, St. Pauls so-called regulation of prostitution became part of the OConnor system of crime regulation. John J. OConnor served as chief of the St. Paul Police Department during the first two decades of the 20th century. His system allowed known criminals to stay in St. Paul as long as they did not commit crimes within the city limits. The prohibition against crime within the city limits did not apply to vice; prostitution, gambling, and alcohol dealers operated with impunity. Madams were brought before the municipal court every other month and fined $100 for keeping a house of ill fame (St. Paul Municipal Court 1900). After 1913, St. Paul altered its policy of regulating prostitution, and the madams no longer paid their bimonthly fines (St. Paul Municipal Court 19131914, 1920, 1925). What led to the change in policy is not clear. Although no special vice commissions were established in St. Paul in the 1910s, perhaps Progressive Era sensibilities would no longer countenance a containment policy toward prostitution. By the 1920s, the Washington Street red-light district was on the decline. Clifford continued to run the brothel at 147 Washington Street until her death in 1929, but prostitution had dispersed to St. Peter and Jackson streets and the Seven Corners area by that time (St. Paul Pioneer Press 1967). Most of the buildings on Washington Street were demolished in the 1930s, and the county morgue was built on the site. The building at the corner of Washington and Eagle, the former Bucket of Blood saloon, stood until 1974. Nina Cliffords Bordello Brothels on Washington Street were at the high end of the social and economic scale.

The number of nonprostitute employees indicates that the prostitutes were bringing in plenty of money. In addition, many of the brothels were well appointed. Cliffords architect-designed building cost her $12,000 to construct in 1888. The women were said to be the best-dressed prostitutes in town, and there was a waiting room furnished with lounges and decorated with expensive draperies and imported rugs (Guilford [1915]:8; St. Paul Pioneer Dispatch 1963; Maccabee 1995:1317). The building was a handsome, two-story brick dwelling with a large, round-arch window on the first floor, a bay window surmounted with a pedimented parapet, three full-height pilasters topped with carved finials, and a cut-stone entry arch resting on freestanding Doric order columns (Figure 2).

Figure 2. 147 South Washington Street, bordello, 1937. (Minnesota Historical Society Photo Collection.)

Much has been written about Clifford, and her bordello was the site of many legends (Maccabee 1995:1317). While many of these claims will probably never be verified, it is known that by 1895, Clifford was running the largest brothel on South Washington Street, with 11 sports, two chambermaids, and a cook (Minnesota State Population Census 1895). Five years later, Clifford was listed again as a landlady with nine prostitutes, a cook, a housekeeper, three chambermaids, a musician, and a porter (Minnesota State Population Census 1905). The 1905 state census was not as specific; it listed Clifford and 16 other boarders at 147 South Washington. In the 1910 federal census, the address is listed



as a male boardinghouse (USBC 1910). While Clifford is listed again in 1920 (USBC), only four boarders are identified. Other sources indicate that Clifford resided at this address and regularly paid fines for keeping a house of ill fame through 1913 (Polk 1905, 1910, 1915; St. Paul Municipal Court 19041913). Her brothel remained busy through at least 1923 and probably until the end of her life (St. Paul Pioneer Press 1923). Data recovery investigation of the lot that was the site of Cliffords bordello included the excavation of two data recovery units (Units 1 and 5) and three backhoe trenches. A dense concentration of late-19th- to early-20th-century artifacts was uncovered, along with portions of foundations at 147 and 149 South Washington Street, during monitoring of morgue construction. Discovery of intact archaeological deposits associated with St. Pauls historic red-light district resulted in the implementation of the data recovery investigation (Figure 3). Feature 3 was located between 147 and 149 South Washington and adjacent to the front entry to Cliffords brothel (Figure 4). This area was where people entering and leaving 147 South Washington discarded various objects. Excavation of a trench for a modern utility conduit impacted the eastern limits of Feature 3; however, the midden provided a wealth of data for analysis. Machine clearing of postdemolition materials indicated that the south and rear (west) foundation walls of the brothel had been removed either during demolition or during construction of the Ramsey County coroners office. Nearly the entire north foundation wall (Feature 6) as well as the bordellos front foundation (Feature 4) and basement-level entry area (Feature 20) were intact. Feature 20 produced a great number of architectural materials, including many of the more elaborate carved elements from the faade of the building (Figure 5). The contractor had pushed much of the front face of the brothel into the entry well during building demolition in the late 1930s. Unit 5, measuring 3 x 3 ft., was excavated in the rear yard area of Cliffords brothel, where everyday household trash was discarded as sheet refuse. This study examines the artifact assemblages from the front entrance area to the brothel (Feature 3), associated with the custom-

Figure 3. Brothel foundations fronting Washington Street, facing south.

Figure 4. Location of Feature 3, 147 South Washington Street, facing west.

Figure 5. Carved stone architectural feature from facade of Cliffords bordello.

ers or public image of the brothel, and the rear yard area (Unit 5), associated with the residents. The area designated Feature 3 was clearly where refuse and artifacts were deposited by people entering and leaving 147 South Washington. The data from Feature 3 at the front of the building



and Unit 5 in the rear appeared to have great potential for comparative analysis between the public image of the brothel and private reality. These two data sets were analyzed to compare differences between the two assemblages. Glass A minimum total of 16 glass vessels were recovered from excavation in the rear yard of Cliffords bordello. Table 1 summarizes the glass vessel data from Unit 5. Only two functional groups are represented in the backyard sample, domestic and medical. Approximately 56% (N=9) of the assemblage includes vessels belonging to the domestic group, while the remaining 44% (N=7) belongs to the medical group. The domestic group vessels are comprised largely of beverage bottles (N=8) but also include one small tumbler. The types of beverages represented by the discarded bottles are dominated by beer (N=4) but also include liquor (N=2) and mineral water (N=2). Fifteen of the 16 Unit-5 vessels came from the uppermost layer excavated (Stratum A), which was formed primarily from the discard of household refuse behind the brothel. The mean bottle date for Stratum A is 1911, and the terminus post quem is 1904, based on the recovery of a bottle manufactured in a fully automatic mold machine. The 19021911 period of deposition suggested by the bottle data supports the stratigraphic interpretation of Stratum A as an early20th-century occupation deposit.

Table 2 summarizes the 150 glass vessels from Feature 3. The overwhelming majority (91.3%) of glass vessels from Feature 3 belong to the domestic group, followed in decreasing frequency by vessels from the medical group (6.7%) and the personal group (2%). Many of the bottles from Feature 3 were complete or nearly complete, and one recovered bottle still contained beer. Dates derived from the bottle glass indicate that the deposition of Feature 3 began when the brothel was built in 1888 and continued to the turn of the century. The alley midden generated a mean bottle date of 1898, and a terminus post quem date of 1895. Creation of this deposit near the front entrance is approximately contemporary with the formation of the sheet refuse (Stratum A) in the rear yard, which produced 90% of the glass vessel sample from Unit 5. Both deposits were formed during the heyday of Cliffords bordello, when the brothel housed the greatest number of prostitutes and servants. Comparison of the glass assemblages from the front entrance (Feature 3) and the backyard (Unit 5) points to some interesting differences between the types and frequencies of materials discarded near the front entrance versus the backyard of Cliffords brothel. The largest percentage of bottle glass produced by the two areas falls within the domestic group, followed with decreasing frequency by the medical and personal groups. The relative frequencies of the functional groups within each assemblage differ (Figure 6). Domestic-group vessels are more


Functional Group Domestic Group Frequency 56.3% Class bottle FCS Medical Total 43.7% 100.0% bottle Function liquor beer mineral water small tumbler unknown pharmaceutical N 2 4 2 1 7 16

FCS=food consumption and serving



Group Domestic Group Frequency 91.3% Class FCS Function tumbler decanter bowl dish container beer mineral water liquor wine/champagne condiment perfume ink unknown pharmaceutical citrate of magnesia bitters cough syrup N 74 1 1 1 1 36 19 2 1 1 2 1 6 2 1 1 150

FS bottle

Personal Medical

2.0% 6.7%

bottle bottle



FCS=food consumption and serving FS=food storage

frequent within the front entrance assemblage than in the sample from the backyard. In contrast, medicine bottles occur over six times more frequently in the backyard than in the midden near the front of Cliffords brothel. Within the domestic group as shown in Figure 7, food consumption and serving vessels occur more frequently (56.2%) than bottles (43.1%) near the front of the brothel, while the reverse is true in the backyard sample (57.1% bottles versus 42.9% food consumption and serving). The combined assemblages include only one with a food-related function, a small condiment bottle from Feature 3. In the New York City and New Orleans brothels, it was customary for a patron to purchase a bottle of champagne for consumption on the premises (Sanger 1939:551; Rose 1974). The price of the champagne was greatly marked up and provided an important source of brothel income. Excavations at 147 South Washington did not produce evidence that this practice was common in St. Paul, although Cliffords brothel unquestioningly belonged to the higher class of parlor houses. Beer bottles dominate the domestic

group collections from both the front and rear areas of the lot, making up 44.4% of this group from the backyard and 61% from the alley near the front entrance (Figure 8). A minimum count of one wine/champagne bottle was identified during analysis of the glass assemblage from Cliffords, based on a finish from Feature 3 near the front of the bordello. Neither is hard liquor strongly represented in the assemblage, accounting for 22.2% of the backyard sample and a mere 3.4% of the sample from the front entrance. The predominance of beer bottles in both deposits in the backyard and near the front entrance may stem from ethnic preferences. St. Paul, and the Uppertown neighborhood in particular, contained a relatively large ethnic German population during the 19th and early-20th centuries. The preference for beer may also reflect a local sense of economy, keeping in mind the relatively inexpensive cost of beer when compared to most wines or hard liquor. An 1867 report in the St. Paul Pioneer Press relates that several prostitutes imported by a local madam returned to Chicago after a short local sojourn, complaining that St. Paul customers were not as



Figure 6. Frequency of glass vessels by functional group, 147 South Washington.

wealthy as those they were accustomed to (cited in Best 1982:610, 1987:246). Mineral-water bottles make up almost onethird (32.2%) of the bottle collection from Feature 3, while making up less than onefourth (22.2%) of the collection from Unit 5. Together, beer and mineral water bottles clearly dominate the front alley sample, comprising 93.3% of the collection. In contrast, beverage bottles are more evenly represented in the backyard deposits. The frequency of beer bottles in the Unit 5 sample is 44.4%, mineral water bottles 22.2%, and liquor bottles 22.2%. In his 1850s study of prostitution, William Sanger (1939:555) describes the upscale brothels, or parlor houses, in New York City:
The [first class] houses ... are furnished with a lavish display of luxury, scarcely in accordance with the dictates of good taste however, and mostly exhibiting a quantity of magnificent furniture crowded together without taste or judgment for the sake of ostentation. The most costly cabinet and upholstery work is freely employed in their decoration, particularly in the rooms used as reception parlors.

Figure 7. Frequency of domestic group glass vessels by class, 147 South Washington.

Figure 8. Frequencies of domestic bottles by function, 147 South Washington.

While Sanger refers to establishments in New York, he echoes descriptions of higher end brothels in other American cities, including some of St. Pauls first-class houses such as Cliffords (Guilford [1915]; Best 1987; Maccabee 1995). The front of the bordello contained the main reception room, whose importance was emphasized by the ostentatious decoration and display noted in contemporary descriptions. The accoutrements of the reception area, including not only the furnishings but also the drinks and foods served to customers and the vessels used to serve them, were calculated to make a favorable impression on the patron. The parlor house type of brothel functioned not only as a commercial establishment but also as a residence, however temporary, for the madam and prostitutes and, occasionally, for servants or other individuals. Like other contemporary urban households, a significant amount of the brothels day-to-day refuse was disposed of in the backyard. It can be argued that the materials recovered from the front of the brothel (beside the main entrance) more nearly reflect the public sphere of the bordello, while the materials recovered from the backyard shed



more light on the private aspects of life in a turn-of-the-century brothel. The relative representation of classes within the domestic-group glass from 147 South Washington seems to reflect this dichotomy (Figure 9). The assemblage from the front of the brothel reflects the emphasis placed on receiving and entertaining patrons. As noted above, glass food-consumption and serving vessels occur in nearly one and one-half times greater frequency than domestic-group bottles near the front of the brothel (56.2% and 42.9%, respectively). In particular, tumblers comprise 9% of the foodconsumption and serving vessels in the Feature 3 sample. The majority of tumblers were classified as small, that is, less than 2 inches in diameter. Although some of these may be shot glasses, the vessels in this category did not possess the thick base characteristic of shot glasses. Nearly all of the small tumblers recovered were of finely pressed glass, and many sported decorative fluting around the base. These tumblers are similar to the 4-ounce, pressed-glass vessels referred to as champagne or sherry tumblers in contemporary catalogs (Montgomery Ward & Co.1969:546). Food-consumption and serving vessels near the brothels entrance also included a decanter, a bowl, and a dish. In the backyard deposits, the overall trend is dramatically reversed, with domestic bottles occurring eight times more frequently than food serving and consumption glassware (88.9% and 11.1%, respectively). The glass data suggest that food-consumption and serving vessels were used and discarded far more frequently near the

Figure 9. Frequency of glass food consumption and serving-class vessels by function, Feature 3.

more commercial-oriented front entrance area of the brothel and that drinks constituted a large part of what was served. The frequency of medicine bottles near the front of Cliffords bordello differs markedly from the frequency behind the building. Medicine bottles make up 43.7% of the total vessel assemblage yielded by Unit 5 in the backyard, while they make up only 6.7% of the assemblage found in Feature 3 near the front of the brothel. Most medicine consumption would likely have occurred in more private moments and settings, not in the area where patrons were received and initially entertained during business hours. No patent or proprietary remedy bottles were recovered from Unit 5, while approximately 40% (N=4) of the Feature 3 medicine bottles were of this type. Two of the proprietary medicine containers from near the front entrance were citrate of magnesia bottles, a treatment for gastrointestinal tract ailments that was made by several companies (Fike 1987:140). Other products represented in the Feature 3 collection include Dr. J. W. Bulls Cough Syrup, manufactured by A. G. Meyer & Company, Baltimore, and Jaundice Bitters, made by Moses Atwood of Georgetown, Massachusetts. The purpose of the cough syrup is self-explanatory, while bitters were taken for a variety of ailments. Like many proprietary remedies of the 19th and early-20th centuries, bitters frequently contained a high percentage of alcohol. Prior to the Pure Food and Drug Act of 1906, which required ingredient labeling, the temperance movement considered bitters an acceptable beverage and effective curative for alcoholism (Fike 1987). In contrast, the majority of the medicine bottle sample from the daily household deposits in the backyard appears to be prescription containers. The prescription medicines discarded in the backyard suggest the relative seriousness of ailments suffered by the women who worked in Cliffords bordello. Reportedly, prostitutes in the Washington Street district frequently availed themselves of the low-cost services of physicians employed by the old county morgue across the street (Maccabee 1995:13). Venereal disease was the most obvious health risk for women engaged in prostitution, but intimate contact with a large number of patrons undoubtedly resulted in higher than average rates of infection with a variety of other transmittable diseases.



Ceramics At least 32 ceramic vessels were recovered from Unit 5. These all (100%) belong to the domestic group, with no personal items represented. Approximately 84.4% (N=27) are from the food consumption and serving class (Table 3). Two are associated with food storage, and one vessel is a flowerpot. Seventeen vessels were uncovered from Feature 3. This compares dramatically with 150 glass vessels from the same feature. Of these 17 ceramic vessels, 7 were made of porcelain, 9 of refined earthenware and 1 was a coarse redware flowerpot. In addition to the typical tablewares, such as plates, cups, and saucers, were more personal items, such as a jewelry box, a vase, and a flowerpot. There is a higher percentage (17.6%) of personal items in the Feature 3 ceramic assemblage than in the ceramic personal items in the backyard/ residence-related assemblage, reflecting the more public/commercial nature of activities within the brothel (Table 4).
The turn-of-the century brothel was a capitalist business. The brothel was managed for the profit of its owners; the well-being of the resident employees was

secondary. In the working-class household, the wellbeing of the family was primary, and the working-class homemaker managed her household for the benefit of her family (Seifert 1991:103).

The terminus post quem for ceramics in Feature 3 is 1901, from a refined earthenware sherd stamped E VII/IND (Edward VIIs reign was from 1901 to 1910). One ceramic makers mark was uncovered from Feature 3, JOHN MADDOCK ENGLAND. John Maddock succeeded the Maddock & Seddon partnership in ca. 1842 through 1855 in Burslem Staffordshire. The company then became John Maddock & Sons Ltd. and continued business to the present day. Maddock produced good quality earthenware, primarily ironstone, with tasteful printed motifs (Godden 1971:74). Utilitarian ceramics typically associated with stoneware and coarse earthenware are much more prevalent in the household deposits in the backyard. Feature 3 contained no coarse earthenware or stoneware ceramic vessels, and all ceramics were associated only with the food-consumption and serving group. The residents assemblage included both food-consumption and serving and food-storage groups. Only one fragment of undecorated porcelain


Group Domestic Group Frequency 84.4% Class FCS Function plate dish flatware hollow ware mug cup bowl 6.2% 9.4% Total 100.0% FS container crock flower pot unidentified N 8 2 5 7 1 1 3 2 1 2 32

FCS=food consumption and serving FS=food storage



Group Domestic Group Frequency 82.4% Class FCS Function plate platter saucer dish bowl cup pitcher hollow ware vase flower pot jewelry box N 4 1 1 1 1 3 1 2 1 1 1 17

Personal Total

17.6% 100.0%


FCS=food consumption and serving

hollowware was uncovered from the backyard, whereas 13 fragments or 7 vessels of porcelain dishes, bowls, cups, and other hollowware fragments were uncovered at the front. Most of the refined earthenware in the patron assemblage was whiteware and ironstone, with no evidence of yellowware or Rockingham/ Bennington wares; most of these pieces were decorated (Figure 10). In the backyard, there was a combination of whitewares, ironstone, yellowware and Rockingham/Bennington, with fewer decorated pieces. Recreation Artifacts associated with recreation included figurines, gambling pieces, marbles, dolls, and other toys (Figures 11 and 12). Three figurine pieces were recovered from Feature 3, and just one small fragment from Unit 5 (Figure 11). In the backyard, earthenware marble and porcelain doll fragments indicate the presence of children; however, the federal and state census records do not list the presence of children at this location. Their presence is not surprising given the nature of the activities; they may have been residents or visiting their mothers. Only one year of census records, the 1895 state census, lists a nine-year-old boy at another brothel further down the block; otherwise, there was no mention of children (Minnesota State Population Census 18951905). Generally, census

recorders would list everyone for a household, including children, but if the children were not in evidence when the census recorder came by and no one mentioned them, the children could easily have been missed. Given the nature of the business of this active city block, it is unlikely that anyone would want to record the presence of children.

Figure 10. Brown transfer-printed plate from Feature 3.



Figure 12. Distribution of recreation-class artifacts, Washington Street District.

Figure 11. Recreational artifacts.

The conflict between the archaeological data and the census records also occurred in the investigations for the Hookers Division redlight district in Washington, DC (Seifert 1991: 100101). At the Washington, DC, household at 1359 Ohio Avenue, no children were recorded, yet toys were uncovered in the artifact assemblage, indicating children were visitors or residents of the brothel. Children are known to have grown up in the New Orleans brothels (Rose 1974:150). Site-Wide Minimum Number of Vessels (MNV) Analyses A minimum total of 639 glass vessels and 195 ceramic vessels were recovered during data recovery excavations of the site, the Washington Street District (Figure 13). The two excavation proveniences associated with public/commercial activities, Feature 3 near the front entrance of 147 South Washington and Feature 26 the saloon privy, produced a disproportionately high number of glass vessels compared to ceramic vessels. The ratio of glass to ceramic vessels in Feature 26 is over 20 to 1, while the ratio produced by Feature 3 is nearly 9 to 1. Drinking was one of the main activities that occurred in a vice district. The distribution of ceramic

Figure 13. Minimum number of glass and ceramic vessels, by excavation provenience, Washington Street District.

vessels in nearly equal or even higher numbers in the lots behind brothels indicates that the drinking was largely conducted as part of the public/commercial activities of the Washington Street District. In contrast to the high frequency of ceramic imports in the Washington Street assemblage, most of the bottles from the excavations, particularly the beverage bottles, came from St. Paul. Site-Wide Ceramic Index Analysis Table 5 shows the ceramic indices for each household type, following Miller (1980, 1991) and Spencer-Wood (1987). The following analysis shows the comparisons between the




Household Public/Commercial (Feature 3) Private/Domestic (Unit 5) Index Spencer-Wood (1987) Spencer-Wood (1987) Cups/Saucers 21.33 3.33 Plates 5.74 12.17 Bowls 2.00 3.30 Mean Index 3.23 1.70

refuse discarded at the front of the brothel and the refuse discarded at the back of the brothel. Factors that may affect the correlation between consumer behavior and status include household composition, availability of imported goods, ethnicity, and changes in the market place. The mean index value for Feature 3, which represents the public/commercial refuse, is 3.23, while the mean index for Unit 5, the private/ domestic refuse, is only 1.70. Feature 3 yielded four cups/saucers, and Unit 5 yielded only one. The neighborhood mean index is 2.10, still quite a bit lower than Feature 3, yet higher than Unit 5. There seems to be a correlation between the value of ceramic decorative types and the socioeconomic status of the household types. The assemblage associated with the public image of Cliffords bordello is one of high economic status. The private reality for the residents is a lower status than presented to the public. This supports evidence from the analysis of medicinal bottles that challenges the image of the happy sporting life of the girls at 147 South Washington. The ceramic index generally conforms with the assessment that the private reality of the brothels is a poorer standard of living than the image portrayed to the public. With no local working-class sites to use for comparative analysis, it is not possible to say how the standard of living of the residents compared with other working-class families. One of the conclusions from the Hookers Division investigation in Washington, DC, was that prostitutes did not express status displays through meals and tea, thus explaining the lower values for cups and saucers. The ceramic index from the front of Cliffords brothel was noticeably higher than the index in the backyard, indicating that status was partially displayed, at least towards patrons, through ceramics.

Faunal Domestic animal remains, including cow, pig, chicken, turkey, and pigeon, dominate the faunal assemblage for the entire site. Mammal remains are most prevalent in the assemblage as a whole, followed by birds and fish. Wild fauna are represented primarily by freshwater fish, one ruffed grouse, and frog leg remains. Marine shellfish are represented by a single oyster shell from the front of the bordello. Despite its low count of bone artifacts (N=19), the patron-related assemblage contained an interesting variety of faunal remains. Mammal remains are most prevalent, but none was identifiable by species. Birds included chicken, turkey, and duck. At least one of the chickens was a rooster. The sheet refuse sample from the backyard (Unit 5) contained 12 times more fauna than Feature 3 (N=251). There was twice as much beef as pork in both assemblages. Unit 5 also contained chicken and pigeon remains, including eggshell. More than 60 individual specimens of fish fauna were recovered from the backyard, including bass, channel catfish, bullhead/catfish, and northern pike or muskellunge. No fish material was recovered from Feature 3 near the front entrance. Food served to patrons of Cliffords brothel included oysters, reputed to be an aphrodisiac, and poultry, some of which was probably reared on site. The poultry from Feature 3 contained a high percentage of wing and leg elements, indicating what is called today finger food. The small number of animal bones recovered from near the entrance to Cliffords brothel suggests that relatively little food was being served to customers. This conclusion is supported by the analysis of both the glass and ceramic vessels recovered from the area near



the front entrance. The majority of both glass and ceramic vessels are related to drink consumption rather than food serving. Although 76.5% of the 17 vessels identified in the Feature 3 assemblage belong to the food consumption and serving class, only slightly greater than half of the vessels (53.8%) are related to solid food consumption. The other half of the ceramic vessel sample is related to the serving and consumption of beverages. Tobacco As illustrated in figures 14 and 15, 35 smoking-related artifacts were recovered during

Figure 14. Distribution of smoking-related artifacts, Washington Street District.

Figure 15. Tobacco pipes.

the data recovery excavations. Objects in this analytical class included pipes, cigars, and tobacco tins. Three kaolin tobacco pipe fragments were recovered from the backyard of 147 South Washington, but no smoking paraphernalia were found in the midden near the front entrance. One of the fragments, a stem, was recovered from the native A horizon (Stratum C) and probably predates construction of Cliffords brothel. The remaining two pipe fragments, a stem and a bowl, came from Stratum B, a thick unit of fill; thus, the precise origin of the object is uncertain. Stratum A, the turnof-the-century sheet refuse, produced no pipe fragments. The majority of the artifacts in the tobacco class are white clay (kaolin) pipe fragments. Of note is a complete bowl of red earthenware from the saloon privy fill at 222 Eagle Street. The pipe was made to be fitted with a reed stem, and is stamped TBP (Figure 13), which likely indicates that the pipe was made by the Pamplin firm in North Carolina. By the early20th century, clay pipes had become primarily associated with men and with working-class men in particular (Cook 1989; DeCunzo 1995: 9294). In the middle and upper classes, kaolin pipes had been replaced by pipes made of more expensive materials, such as briar or meerschaum. In addition, cigarettes were becoming increasingly popular. Lu Ann DeCunzos (1995) study of ca. 18001850 deposits from the reforming Magdalen Society in Philadelphia places womens smoking within the context of social discourse. The Magdalen study evidence indicates that asylum prostitutes continued to use clay pipes, even after smoking was officially banned by the institution and after smoking had become increasingly characterized as a male activity. L. J. Cook (1989) notes that as the middle and upper classes in America defined smoking as the sole purview of men, they began to regard smoking by women as immoral. Women smoking in the presence of men (i.e., in public) came to be viewed as advertising their sexual availability. It is interesting to note that cigar shops often served as fronts for prostitution in St. Paul (Best 1982:600). At the same time that the upper and middle classes came to regard womens smoking as sinful, working people



came to employ the clay pipe as a symbol of class solidarity. Working-class women, smoking in the presence of working-class men, were not denigrated by their own class as they were by their social betters. Given the relative lack of pipe fragments from the yard refuse, women working as prostitutes along Washington Street may have adhered to the middle- and upper-class belief that smoking was inappropriate female behavior. It is also possible that women in the brothels smoked but utilized cigarettes or cigars, which leave little evidence in the archaeological record. Given the association of the common clay pipe with the working class, the use of other smoking paraphernalia may have been a statement of association with the middle and upper classes or part of an effort to attract patrons from the higher ranks of society. The predominance of pipes from the saloon privy when compared with the smoking-related artifacts from the brothels suggests that much of the smoking in the Washington Street District occurred in a public setting. The saloon was undoubtedly frequented by men, both locals and nonlocals, as well as by the working women of the district. It is uncertain whether the pipe fragments resulted from the smoking of one group or the other or if both groups contributed to the recovered sample. Grooming and Hygiene The site assemblage as a whole, and particularly that from the saloon privy fill, definitely reflects an emphasis on grooming and hygiene (Figure 16). Products such as perfumes, toothpastes and powders, mouthwash, cosmetics, and hair pomade and dressing, together with hair combs and brushes, toothbrushes, and toiletry sets attest to the concern over personal appearance (Figure 17). No doubt much of the care was part of the effort to appeal to potential patrons. The frequency of medicine bottles attests to the prevalence of illness and disease. The apparent attention to personal appearance may, in part, stem from the presence of more serious underlying ailments that needed to be kept hidden. This contrast again points to a dichotomy between appearance/public image and the realities of life in the red-light district.

Conclusion Differences between the public image and the private reality of turn-of-the-century brothel life are apparent in vessel types, faunal remains, and other artifact types from the Washington Street district. The standard of living in these establishments was high, as represented in the fashionable English and Chinese imported wares. The ceramic assemblage associated with the customers included a higher percentage of decorated wares than those used by the residents. All of the ceramics associated with patron use were related to food consumption and serving, whereas the assemblage associated with the residents included food storage vessels. No food preparation vessels were recovered from either provenience. Documents show that at least nine prostitutes and seven other employees, including a cook, lived at this address, yet the archaeological evidence does not indicate any food preparation on site. The food consumed by the customers and the residents is quite different. Little food was served to the customers of the brothel, whereas the residents were eating poultry and beef. The frequency of particular beverages consumed by brothel patrons and residents also differed. While the brothel residents consumed no one particular beverage in markedly greater proportions, the customers consumed more beer than mineral water or other alcoholic beverages such as liquor or wine. Although possible archaeological evidence exists for the presence

Figure 16. Distribution of grooming and hygiene class artifacts, Washington Street District.



Figure 17. Grooming and hygiene artifacts from Feature 26.

of children on site in the backyard area, this is not supported by the documentary data. Evidence for significant health problems is apparent through the high percentage of medicine bottles, particularly in the household resident midden at the rear of the brothel. The prevalence of prescription medicines in the resident refuse may be due to the proximity of doctors in the morgue, located across the street. In addition, prescription medicines rather than patent medicines indicate more chronic and serious diseases among the residents. The preponderance of the archaeological evidence for poor health conditions of the residents contradicts the myths of the glamorous sporting life of Nina

Cliffords establishment. While the women may have enjoyed higher incomes and better food, it was at a high price. REFERENCES
1982 Careers in Brothel Prostitution: St. Paul, 1865 1883. Journal of Interdisciplinary History, 12(4): 597619. 1987 Looking Evil in the Face, Being an Examination of Vice and Respectability in St. Paul as Seen in the Citys Press. Minnesota History, (Summer):241251.




1989 Tobacco-Related Material and the Construction of Working-Class Culture. In Interdisciplinary Investigations of the Boott Mills, Lowell, Massachusetts, Vol. 3, The Boarding House as a Way of Life, M. C. Beaudry and S. A. Mrozowski, editors, pp. 209230, Cultural Resource Management Study, No. 21. North Atlantic Regional office, National Park Service, Boston, MA. 1995 Reform, Respite, Ritual: An Archaeology of Institutions; The Magdalen Society of Philadelphia, 18001850. Historical Archaeology, 29(3). 1987 The Bottle Book. Peregrine Smith Books, Salt Lake City, UT. 1971 The Illustrated Guide to Masons Patent Ironstone China: The Related WareStone China, New Stone, Granite Chinaand their Manufacturers. Barrie & Jenkins, London. [1915] Holies of Holies of the White Slave Worshipper. Howard A. Guilford, St. Paul, MN.


1974 Storyville, New Orleans: Being an Authentic, Illustrated Account of the Notorious Red-Light District. University of Alabama Press, Tuscaloosa. 19041925 Criminal Dockets. Society, St. Paul. Minnesota Historical




1963 Nina Cliffords Legacy. St. Paul Pioneer Dispatch, 4 July. 1881 Neighborhood Nuisances. St. Paul Pioneer Press, 23 July. 1923 Mayors St. Paul Vice Findings Divulged. St. Paul Pioneer Press, 18 December. 1967 When St. Paul Wallowed in a Sea of Crime. St. Paul Pioneer Press, 3 December. 1939 The History of Prostitution: Its Extent, Causes and Effects Throughout the World, new edition. Eugenics Publishing Company, New York. Originally published in 1858. 1991 Within Sight [Site] of the White House: The Archaeology of Working Women. Historical Archaeology, 25(4):82108. 1987 Millers Indices and Consumer Choice Profiles. In Consumer Choice in Historical Archaeology, Suzanne Spencer-Wood, editor, pp. 322358. Plenum Press, New York, NY. 18701920 Population Schedules, Minnesota. Minnesota Historical Society.








1995 John Dillinger Slept Here: A Crooks Tour of Crime and Corruption in St. Paul, 19201936. Minnesota Historical Society Press, St. Paul. 1980 Classification and Economic Scaling of NineteenthCentury Ceramics. Historical Archaeology, 14: 141. 1991 Classification and Economic Scaling of NineteenthCentury Ceramics. In Approaches to Material Culture Research for Historical Archaeologists. The Society for Historical Archaeology, California, PA. 18951905 Population Schedule. Minnesota Historical Society, St. Paul. 1969 Montgomery Ward & Co. Catalogue and Buyers Guide. Reprint of No. 57, spring and summer 1895 edition by Dover Publications, Inc., New York, NY. 18801948 Polks St. Paul City Directory. R. L. Polk & Company Publishers, St. Paul, MN.









Catherine Holder Spude

Brothels and Saloons: An Archaeology of Gender in the American West

An analysis of eight artifact collections from mining-related communities in the North American West sheds light on the manifestation of gender in the archaeological record. Saloons and brothels served similar functions in the mining boomtowns, often overlapping. A critical difference between the two types of collections lies in who was selecting the material culture: men or women. Womens contributions to the archaeological assemblages of sporting establishments can be identified by items specific to them, as well as by relatively high percentages of pharmaceuticals. High frequencies of armaments and generic personal items in the brothels may have more to do with the specific activities taking place in the brothels than with gender. The importance of distinguishing between the brothels and saloons is examined in the context of feminist theory.

Introduction Within the last decade, historical archaeology has become an increasingly useful tool for elucidating gender studies. Mens and womens lives, relationships, roles and their functions in communities have changed through time, and the ways they have evolved are important in understanding those aspects of culture as it exists today. Archaeological techniques, combined with an anthropological perspective on human history and human interactions, have the potential to shed new light on understudied populations. This potential is especially great when dealing with working-class people of both genders who have failed to leave a written record of their lives. The primary documentation of the lives of male laborers and working-class prostitutes in the North American West often appears in the form of reminiscences. Written decades after the big boom, the prostitutes recall all the fun they had and the laborers remember the

generous, golden hearts of the substitutes they found for the wives and sweethearts back home. An excellent example is seen in a memoir by Richard Dixie Anzer (1959:138139), who spent time in the Yukon and Alaska during the Klondike gold rush years of 18971899. He wrote glowingly of Popcorn Kate, whom he portrayed as a buxom, fun-loving lass. The same woman appeared several times in the Skagway, Alaska, newspaper as a lush, being hauled to jail in a wheelbarrow, wearing only enough clothes to fill a thimble, and drawing a nine-month jail sentence for vagrancy (Daily Alaskan 1900:1; 1901a:4; 1901b:4). Who told the truth about Kate? Anzer or the newspaper journalist? The studies of Marion Goldman (1981), Ruth Rosen (1982), Anne Butler (1985), Jacqueline Baker Barnhart (1986), Benson Tong (1994), Madelon Powers (1998), Howard Chudacoff (1999), and James A. Morone (2003) have gone a long way towards increasing our knowledge of the role prostitutes played in the turn-of-thecentury North American West. It becomes quite obvious that the Western prostitute, while providing a service in a predominantly male world, was not doing so because she was depraved, lustful, having a good time, or simply from the kindness of her heart. Her reasons for prostituting herself were as varied as the reasons that men rushed north for gold, and most of those reasons boiled down to one simple denominator: money. Unfortunately, at least in the North American West, the works of these scholars are still overwhelmed by the tongue-in-cheek, titillating books by journalists (Irwin and Miller 1960; Miller and Mazzulla 1962; Brown 1995), retired geologists (Bird 1987), hospital administrators (Sandwich 1991), and religious reformers (Williams 1980), to mention only a few who have relied almost entirely on interviews and letters of madams. Note the huge success of the University of New Mexico Presss recent biography of madam Millie Clark Cusey, written by novelist Max Evans (2002). The first edition sold out within a month. Evans stated

Historical Archaeology, 2005, 39(1):89106. Permission to reprint required. Accepted for publication 11 November 2003.



that he tried interviewing Millies friends for the book, but they all told the same stories she did, so he soon gave it up and settled in for pleasant afternoons of drinking whiskey with Millie while she recounted her hilarious adventures (Evans 2002:296). What all these menand they are invariably menseem to have forgotten is that it was a madams job to entertain the customer with amusing, ribald stories while he awaited the service for which he came through the door. And the madams were very good at telling stories, true or not. The hilarious stories become so entertaining that these researchers found themselves losing their objectivity very quickly, while losing their hearts to their subjects. Trying to find unbiased source materials for the early-20th-century Western prostitute is especially difficult. The reform era drew upon the Victorian vision of the Devils mistress and then turned her into a depraved victim (Morone 2003:222280). The reformers literature is often substantiated by court documents, which tell only a small part of the story, the part that ends up in the courts (Washburn 1997: vi). The madam fought back with uproarious tales of good times that were corroborated by her friends and clients, who only went to her place for the conversation. These stories are echoed by the newspaper quips that made fun of the prostitutes, making them seem hilarious in another sense. While the archaeologist entering the remains of the Western boomtown has some solid secondary sources to start with, he or she may have very little good primary material on which to figure out where the women were and what they were actually doing in their day-to-day lives. The mining camps bloomed and died in a matter of weeks or months, often having no more court system than a miners committee and no more law than vigilante law. No one kept copies of the newspaper, if there was one. The archaeologist has only material remains and analogy with other mining camps (or logging camps, or railroad construction camps, or other places where men gathered in large numbers without their wives and families) to try to figure out where the few women in the camp might have been. The social historian and the archaeologist cannot help but believe that the entire truth

cannot be told and interpreted either by the participants, their male observers, or their female reformers. The historians who have studied Western prostitution combined their ability in finding a variety of sources with their skill at interpretation and art in presentation to reveal much of the truth that is known about prostitution in Western North America today. Archaeologists trust there are ways to increase the variety of historical tools through the study of the physical remains of brothels. Saloons and Brothels in the West On the Western mining frontier, the saloon was the poor mans club (Kingsdale 1973: 472), functioning to provide a social sphere for a man far from friends and family. Respected historian Elliott West (1979:7396) called it the social heart-centre of the camp. The saloon was not simply a place to relax with a whiskey or beer after work. The bachelor men in the mining camps, far from home and family, sought out the saloon for its camaraderie, information about lucrative strikes, and news from the rest of the world. And, as one author wrote, the nature and the scope of the diversions offered in public drinking places was limited only by the tolerance of the authorities and the imagination of the owner. While drinking remained as the primary attraction, there were many added inducements for visiting a saloon (Brown 1978:35). Brothels, on the other hand, almost defy a standard definition. Most people recognized the word to mean a place where men went to purchase sexual favors from women. Goldman (1981), in her study of the prostitutes of Virginia City, Nevada, constructed a detailed typology of such institutions, ranging from the rented cribs in the back alleys, to the rooms above the saloons, to the high-priced parlor houses operated by wealthy madams. The common denominator was sex for cash. And almost without exception, this trade could not be conducted without alcohol. Most informative for the archaeologist, though, is that most Western saloons provided some sort of sexual entertainment, and most brothels provided liquor for sale to their customers. If one is to believe the reminiscences of miners and prostitutes, alcohol and conversation were indeed


91 Denver capitalized on the universality of that assumption to taunt female reformers. When women of the Womans Christian Temperance Union (WCTU) tried to enter saloons to record the condition of drinkers, they were met by guards who shouted, Whore!

more important than sexual commerce in both institutions (Anzer 1959; Lucia 1962). West (1979:49) describes the similarities thus:
The distinction between a brothel and a barroom, like that between a dance hall and a saloon, could be a fine one. Certainly any whorehouse sold liquor, but the proprietor depended on the sexual commerce of the boarders as his [sic] main source of revenue. Some saloon men, on the other hand, seem to have employed a few hardened hussies to supplement the income of the bar. A saloon might have one-room cribs behind or to the side, or simply a back room, to which women took their customers. Prostitutes usually were expected to encourage their men to drink before concluding the transaction, and some of them performed other services as well. The St. Elmo Saloon of Globe, Arizona, featured women acrobats and singers who doubled as whores between acts.

Because most brothels served alcohol and most saloons offered sex for sale, the archaeologist initially may be challenged to identify the primary commodity being sold when confronted with the overwhelming amount of liquor bottles in the archaeological records of these institutions. For archaeologists, the principal difference between the saloons and brothels was not so much what occurred behind the swinging doors but, rather, who selected the material culture: men or women. By 1900 in much of the North American West, women were forbidden from entering saloons, either legally or at least through convention. Those who did so in defiance of law or custom were assumed to be prostitutes and treated accordingly (usually by being able to conduct their business rather than by being arrested). Social historian Mary Murphy (1997: 51) cites an example from Butte, Montana, in the early decades of the 20th century:
For the most part public drinking outside the countrys largest cities remained a male privilege until Prohibition. Even in freewheeling Butte, as [informant] Aili Goldberg declared, You just didnt see a woman in a saloon. Alma and Lillie Muentzer [also informants] were born above their fathers brewery and saloon. Alma recalled that the Butte Brewery and Saloon had a little room in case the ladies wanted anything ... [but] it was never used much because women at that time didnt go to bars. Lillie remembered that the California Bar featured booths for ladies, but she also noted, You werent a lady if you went in. Throughout the West, the only women to frequent saloons openly were prostitutes. As the custom became entrenched, any woman who entered a saloon was assumed to be of dubious character. Men in

In other places, laws existed banning women from saloons. In 1903, the federal courts denied licenses to all Alaskan saloon owners who allowed women into their establishments, forcing many who relied on the family trade to take up delivery service ( Daily Alaskan, 1903a:1, 1903b:2, 1908:1). Women in the saloons, by nature of their illicit status, had little choice in the purchase or use of material culture. Brothels, on the other hand, were often owned, operated, and occupied by women (Petrik 1987:2558). While men were the customers in both establishments, women dominated the selection of material culture in the brothels. If they functioned so similarly in society, why even try to distinguish the differences? Donna Seifert (1991a) and Michael Meyer and colleagues (this volume) have compared the collections from brothels with those of nearby residential units. Their analyses have produced useful information on the differences in the material cultures of the respectable and disrespectable segments of female society. They have elucidated the difference between different sorts of women. By comparing saloons and brothels, which served very similar functions in a community but did so with different genders choosing the material culture, it may be possible to increase our understanding of the manifestation of gender as a whole in the archaeological record. Examined Collections Eight collections were examined for this study: five saloons and three brothels. Seven collections came from working-class, miningrelated communities; the eighth was from a middle-class urban neighborhood in Los Angeles (Figure 1). Mascot Saloon, Skagway, Alaska Skagway was established in 1897 as a transshipment point on the way to the Klondike gold rush. Ships off-loaded people and supplies bound



1897 to 1904 and has been summarized by Catherine Blee (1991:179182). Pantheon Saloon, Skagway, Alaska This saloon was built as the Rosalie Hotel in 1897, shortly after the start of the Klondike gold rush. After briefly serving as a hardware store, it was turned into a saloon in 1903. It served transient miners, longshoremen, and railroad workers until late 1916, when local prohibition closed its doors. There is some evidence that it continued to be used as a speakeasy during the prohibition years. The proprietor, John Anderson, lived upstairs, except when his wife was in town. Then they rented a house elsewhere, and the upstairs rooms were used as a gentlemens club or card room. The Pantheon was also known to serve some free lunches but only for its first year or two of operation (Kardatzke 2002). Corner Saloon, Lake City, Colorado
Figure 1. Locations of sites that provided data for this study. (Base map courtesy of the General Libraries, University of Texas at Austin.)

inland to Dawson, Yukon Territory, and accepted the outgoing minerals and ores from throughout the territory. The White Pass and Yukon Route Railroad, headquartered in Skagway, formed a critical link in the transportation route to and from the Yukon. The Mascot Saloon was a favorite gathering place for miners traveling to the interior from 1897 to 1908 and for longshoremen and railroad laborers from 1899 until local prohibition in 1916. In 1900, four men lived in the rooms above the saloon, including the owner-proprietor, the bartender, and a cook. Albert Rienert, the owner, lived above the saloon from 1899 to 1911, when he finally married. Free lunches were served throughout the day and night from about 1901 through 1904. As was common at the time, these lunches were extremely cheap, sometimes free, to encourage their exclusively male patrons to spend their money on liquor. Excavated in 1986 by Paul Gleeson, a draft report is now being prepared by the author of this study. The collection dates mostly from

Lake City was one of many commercial centers serving a hard rock mining community in the San Juan Mountains of Colorado. The Corner Saloon burned to the ground on 27 December 1912, leaving the then economically depressed mining community without its last drinking establishment. The buildings cellar became a repository for the material culture of the saloon as it existed at Christmas time. Excavated by Steven Baker in 1977, no reporting of its collection is available except as a summary in the study by Blee (1991:183184). California Saloon, Fairbanks, Alaska This saloon served the relatively stable population of men working along the Chena River waterfront between about 1904 and 1916, when local prohibition was enacted. The building had two stories, and until 1908, the second floor was rented to the Tanana Club. Obviously a mens club, this notorious hellhole had a reputation for indulging in orgies and various acts of immorality, which may explain the limited number of female-specific items found in the deposits relating to this time period. After 1908, the proprietor remodeled the upstairs rooms for use as a pool hall and place where



men could go to read the newspapers. Besides pool, the saloon offered bowling as entertainment. At least one Christmas, in 1911, the saloon served dinner. It is not known if the serving of meals was common at other times of the year or other Christmases (Gannon and Bowers 1997:Section 4.3). Miners Home Saloon, Fairbanks, Alaska This establishment served working-class miners of Fairbanks from 1907 to 1918. It appears to have been favored by more non-Americans than the California Saloon. There is no evidence that the saloon served as a residence, although it was the headquarters of the Miners Labor Union during the Tanana Valley Miners Strike of 1907. The cellar of the saloon was excavated in 1992 and reported by Brian Gannon and Peter Bowers (1997:Section 4.6). Vanoli Sporting Complex, Ouray, Colorado The Vanoli sporting complex was the center of entertainment in the silver and gold mining district surrounding the community. The complex of buildings, owned by the Italian family of John Vanoli from 1881 to 1915, covered half a city block. It included two saloons, a combination theater and dance hall, a hotel with another dance hall and rooms upstairs for prostitutes, two bathhouses, a Chinese laundry, and a varying number of prostitutes cribs. Unlike the hotel rooms or more formalized brothels, the cribs were places where business alone was conducted. The women employed in these tiny, one-room cabins did not live in them (Gregory 1982). Only the artifacts taken from contexts directly associated with the prostitutesthe cribs and upstairs roomswere examined for this study. Like two of the saloon collections, the Vanoli collection has not been fully reported, but is summarized in Blee (1991: 199202). Hill 60, Blairmore, Alberta, Canada Blairmore was established when the Canadian Pacific Railroad completed a line to the area in 1889 and opened the area to coal extraction. Coal miners were the principal clients of the

prostitutes on the hill, which was used from 1904 to about 1939. These Japanese prostitutes left three separate refuse dumps, from which their collection was taken (Kennedy 1983; Blee 1991:202205). Aliso Street Parlor House, Los Angeles, California Three privy vaults (the Privy 426 Complex) were filled with domestic refuse dated from about 1888 to 1901. Meyer and colleagues write about this material in some detail in another article in this volume. This parlor house served a somewhat higher-class clientele than the gold and coal miners who patronized the Vanoli Sporting Complex and Hill 60 (Costello 1999). Characterization of the Collections The first step in comparing collections taken from brothels and saloons is to create an archaeological typology that will select for gender-related variables. It does little good in trying to ascertain gender by using pre-established categories devised to solve other types of problems (South 1977) or simply to serve as consistent terminology in the naming of categories (Sprague 1981). Neither of these widely used taxonomies distinguishes items used by women from those used by men, and neither separates other artifact categories into types that would enable the archaeologist to discern gender in the archaeological record. This observation is not intended as criticism: neither Roderick Sprague nor Stanley South was interested in this particular problem, and there is little reason that either should be expected to devise typologies that can answer all questions for all researchers. The next important step is to eliminate all items associated with the construction, repair, and demolition of buildings and other structures: the Architectural Group used by both South (1977:100) and Sprague (1981: 251252). Construction, repair, and demolition activities relate specifically to the building itself, not to human behavior and the activities taking place within a given household or business. Construction and demolition events in particular yield very high frequencies of artifacts relative to other categories of artifacts.



These frequencies can seriously skew the other categories to a point where the comparison of a collection taken from a demolished structure can appear very different from that taken from a nearby structure of identical type that was simply abandoned but never destroyed. Nails do not compare equally with dishes, although a statistical comparison of dishes and bottles can be instructive in answering far different types of questions. Blee (1991:107108) discusses this phenomenon in more depth. To select for gender, it is important to separate personal items that were probably used only by women from those likely used only by men. Female-specific items include such obvious articles as clothing designed specifically for women; fancy buttons and combs; hairpins; hatpins; jewelry obviously not used by men such as pendants, earrings, and bracelets; makeup and cosmetic containers; corset stays; thimbles and other sewing implements (except in obvious tailoring contexts); douching paraphernalia; purses; and parts of curling irons. For this study, garter snaps and clips were assumed to be female-specific despite the fact that men occasionally used them as well. In a similar study of 45 collections, no garter clips were found without other types of female-specific items (Blee 1991:330381). As important as it is to isolate female-specific items, male-specific items should also be identified. This category includes pocket knives, suspender buckles and buttons, watch fobs and chains, pocket watches, jeans rivets, bib overall fasteners, collar stays, cuff links, shaving cream tubes, shirt studs, obvious male clothing (e.g., size 13 boots), straight razors, and large belt buckles (Blee 1991:104,330381). To account for all other personal items, an additional category of generic personal artifacts was defined. This Generic Personal Items category includes all those objects owned or used by a single individual. Overwhelmingly, these artifacts were such small items as coins, keys, and buttons that cannot be associated with a specific gender. A category that has the potential of being an indicator of gender includes artifacts associated with the use of tobacco. Tobacco was sold and used in both saloons and brothels, and evidence for its use is ubiquitous on archaeological sites of the period.

An additional category that has the potential to be used to select for gender are all items associated with armaments. There can be little doubt that some women occasionally fired guns. Anecdotal accounts abound in the newspapers and literature of the time, but its rarity was what made it news. At the turn of the century, the realm of armaments was a manly pursuit and most often associated with men. Because this analysis concerns business establishments that sold alcoholic beverages, it is important to separate the bottles containing alcoholic beverages from those containing nonalcoholic beverages and food. This separation is consistent with Spragues (1981) taxonomic system, and recognizes the importance in the difference of the use of alcohol in the overall social system. Unlike Sprague, it is important, in addition, to separate the liquor bottles from those containing pharmaceutical and medical products. Both popular images and historic documentation (what there is of it) indicate that women were more likely than men to take their alcohol through the more socially acceptable medicinals of the time. Diseases and discomforts particular to women in the late-19th and early-20th centuries were rarely discussed, even amongst lady friends or relatives, it being unwomanly to complain of such minor discomforts as headaches and menstrual cramps. The embarrassment of contracting a sexually transmitted disease was too great an obstacle for most women to overcome to consult a friend, relative, or physician on how to treat the symptoms. As a result, it seems likely that many women found at least temporary relief from pain by purchasing alcohol, opium, and morphine through mail-order catalogues and from their local druggists. Such nostrums as Lydia Pinkhams Vegetable Compound, with its 20.6% alcohol or Mrs. Winslows Soothing Syrup, with its high proportions of morphia at least temporarily cured the symptoms. The Victorian womans reliance on such preparations is well documented and well researched by John S. Haller and Robin M. Haller (1974:271303) and Barbara Hodgson (2001). In other studies, this author has divided the material culture pertaining to the storing and serving of food, as well as other household items, into a series of categories that are helpful in distinguishing socioeconomic class (e.g.,



decorated dishes), institutionalized settings (e.g., undecorated dishes), and the gender composition of residential units (e.g., food storage containers) (Blee 1991; Spude 1997). Most of these categories were not found to be useful in comparing saloon and brothel collections, except perhaps for determining whether anyone was eating and storing food at the place of business. In particular, the selecting for socioeconomic class became difficult because the three brothel collections used to construct a representative Brothel Assemblage originated from three different socioeconomic groups, whereas the saloon assemblages were all working-class saloons. For this study, only gender was of specific interest. To dampen the variability that would appear if such groups as decorated types or ceramic types were considered separately, only a single category of all household items contains the dishwares and food-storage containers. With a greater sample of collections to study and greater diversity in socioeconomic typesif the saloons and brothels being studied were all from working-class neighborhoods, for instancea similar analysis reinstating these variables might provide new and interesting insights. It was believed that for this analysis, it was better to suppress the socioeconomic variables in the interest of simplifying the questions about gender.

Finally, all remaining artifacts were lumped into a single category, simply to account for those items. As it turned out, these Other Artifacts tended to include items specific to mens occupations because objects associated with womens occupations, more often than not, are already accounted for in the household categories. Comparing the Collections Table 1 displays the relative frequencies of each of the artifact categories in the brothel and saloon collections used in this study. It also contains data taken from 4 drinking-family households, 10 temperate family households, 10 transient-male residences, and 1 priests residence as described in Blees (1991:224) study. These four additional data sets are offered to clarify whether or not the relative frequencies of subject artifact categories are related to gender. Figure 2 is a graphic presentation of the saloon and brothel data in Table 1. As shown in tables 2 and 3, the relative frequency of each category was calculated for each collection, and then those frequencies were averaged between the collections in each data set. When compared with a linear regression (Kholer and


Drinking Families 36.75% 5.67% 29.69% 7.97% 8.53% 2.10% 1.45% 0.44% 2.91% 4.50% 100.00% Temperate Families 5.96% 2.63% 58.24% 3.39% 11.29% 5.82% 3.53% 0.42% 2.01% 6.72% 100.00%

Artifact Type Liquor-related Bottle closures Household items Pharmaceuticals Generic personal Female-specific Male-specific Tobacco-related Armaments Other artifacts Total

Saloons 38.06% 29.88% 16.28% 3.23% 5.12% 1.01% 0.27% 1.30% 0.77% 4.08% 100.00%

Brothels 22.76% 18.79% 27.53% 8.49% 9.97% 7.74% 0.10% 1.35% 1.53% 1.73% 100.00%

Transient Males 4.72% 0.65% 12.67% 2.07% 46.29% 0.00% 6.02% 11.51% 5.34% 10.72% 100.00%

Father Turnell 29.39% 2.86% 46.94% 3.67% 6.12% 0.00% 1.22% 2.45% 0.00% 7.35% 100.00%



Figure 2. Relative frequencies of each artifact type in the Saloon and Brothel data sets.

Blinman 1985; Blee 1991), the two data sets yielded a correlation value of .7821, with a probability of being incorrectly correlated of less than .0001. A value of 1.000 would indicate a perfect correlation. The high degree of correlation reinforces what has already been

stated: saloons and brothels were very similar in their overall function in turn-of-the-century society. The difference between the two types of collections is of more interest. A word of explanation on the utility of using the multiple regression method for comparing


California Saloon (Gannon and Bowers 1997) 31.82% 35.71% 19.22% 0.97% 3.90% 1.36% 0.19% 2.47% 0.39% 3.96% 100.00% 1,540 Miners Home Saloon (Gannon and Bowers 1997) 45.31% 31.90% 9.12% 1.34% 5.90% 1.34% 0.27% 0.54% 0.27% 4.02% 100.00% 373

Artifact Type Liquor-related Bottle closures Household items Pharmaceuticals Generic personal Female-specific Male-specific Tobacco-related Armaments Other artifacts Total N

Pantheon Saloon Mascot Saloon (Kardatzke 2002) 47.35% 14.56% 13.38% 4.56% 9.85% 1.62% 0.44% 2.06% 1.03% 5.15% 100.00% 680 24.49% 42.42% 13.41% 7.43% 3.21% 0.73% 0.44% 0.29% 1.02% 6.56% 100.00% 686

Corner Saloon (Blee 1991) 41.34% 24.79% 26.26% 1.85% 2.75% 0.00% 0.00% 1.15% 1.15% 0.70% 100.00% 1,565

Averaged Frequency 38.06% 29.88% 16.28% 3.23% 5.12% 1.01% 0.27% 1.30% 0.77% 4.08% 100.00% 969




Artifact Type Liquor-related Bottle closures Household items Pharmaceuticals Generic personal Female-specific Male-specific Tobacco-related Armaments Other artifacts Total N Vanoli Complex (Blee 1991) 21.64% 12.17% 32.64% 7.81% 17.18% 1.35% 0.01% 1.34% 3.78% 2.07% 100.00% 8,799 Hill 60 (Kennedy 1983; Blee 1991) 22.56% 37.12% 18.49% 3.64% 1.02% 14.99% 0.00% 0.15% 0.44% 1.60% 100.00% 687 Aliso Street (Costello 1999) 24.08% 7.09% 31.47% 14.04% 11.70% 6.87% 0.30% 2.57% 0.38% 1.51% 100.00% 1,325 Averaged Frequency 22.76% 18.79% 27.53% 8.49% 9.97% 7.74% 0.10% 1.35% 1.53% 1.73% 100.00% 3,604

the collections is perhaps required here. To historical archaeologists, the most familiar method of comparing collections is through the use of simple descriptive statistics, best illustrated by South (1977). In that method, the analyst looks at the range of given frequencies of artifacts represented by a large number of collections from a given site type. If the relative frequencies of artifact types from the collection being examined fall within the standard deviation of relative frequencies defined by the comparative collections, then the studied collection is assumed to be normal for that type of site. By regressing a given collection onto the comparative collection, one can determine to what extent the two collections are similar or different (the correlation coefficient). The more they are similar, the closer the correlation will be to 1.000. Further, if an archaeologist wished to sort a known mixed collection to estimate the probable sources of the collection, he or she could compare the study collection with a variety of statistically described collections and determine what mix of collections best approximates the study collection. Blee (1991) discusses this method in some detail. The method proved of considerable effectiveness when Blee (1991:283284) predicted that the artifacts from a layer of trash, dating from 1901 to 1911, located between the Peniel Mission (a nondenominational salvation mission)

and a lodging house was comprised of 44% Hotel Assemblage plus 26% Brothel Assemblage plus 30% unexplained. At the time, Blee was unable to explain this result, except to hypothesize that the high brothel prediction may have been a result of having no other heavily femaleinfluenced comparative data sets to use in the regression analysis. She speculated that the allfemale missionary staff could only be identified by the data sets available, and the brothels were the only other all-female data set. In 1999, the author of this study read all of the newspapers for Skagway, Alaska, from 1898 through 1909. She came upon the report of a municipal court case against two prostitutes who occupied the lodging house 10 feet west of the Peniel Mission (Daily Alaskan 1905:4). The multilinear regression had accurately identified the prostitutes contribution to the trash deposit long before the historic documentation had been found to confirm the accuracy of the method. The point here is that it is not important if the standard deviations for two collection types overlap, especially if they are very similar in function. Furthermore, it is not particularly important if the sample size is small (i.e., only five collections for the saloons and three collections for the brothels). It is expected that the brothels and saloons should be very similar; it would be surprising if the range of frequencies of most of the artifact types did not in



fact overlap, considering the great similarity in social function. What is of interest instead are the central tendencies of the minor differences and what they may mean. Returning to Table 1 and Figure 2, it is hardly surprising that the liquor-related items dominate both collections. Lower frequencies of liquor-related items characterized the brothel data set (23%), reflecting the greater importance of its sale in the saloons (38%). These relative frequencies may not be significant differences, nor is the category necessarily gender related, but the figures reflect the different emphasis on activities in the brothels and saloons. Associated with the liquor-related items are the bottle closures, which vary greatly amongst both the brothel collections and saloon collections. The relative frequency ranges from 7% to 37% in the brothel collections and 15% to 42% in the saloon collections. It is suspected that bottle closure frequency may be a temporal variable. As the manufacture of beer bottles became more standardized, disposable, one-time use crown caps also became more common. Earlier cork stoppers do not survive equally in all environments and so may not prove to be a reliable predictor for function. Certainly, for the purposes of this study, it seems readily apparent that the differences in bottle closure frequencies between saloons and brothels are not gender related and that the category cannot be used reliably to distinguish the saloons from the brothels. Household items are about 70% more frequent in the brothels than in the saloons. The prostitutes lived at their place of business at all three brothels, whereas only the proprietors lived at two of the saloons. While lunches and other occasional meals were served at all saloons, it is obvious that the household activities taking place within the brothels yielded a greater frequency of household items than in commercial establishments. That this may be a gender-related phenomenon is bolstered by a similarly high frequency of household items in drinking-family assemblages (30%) and temperate families (58%), compared to the transientmale assemblages (13%). The collection of a priests trash pit in Skagway, Alaska, yielded 46% household items, more than the drinking families, which his collection strongly resembled in many other ways.

Father Philibert Turnell lived by himself in the Catholic rectory in Skagway, Alaska, from 1901 to 1918. A trash pit found in an abandoned privy pit behind his rectory contained his discards dating from about 1914 to 1918 (Spude et al. 1993). A regression of Father Turnells collection on the drinking-family assemblage yielded a correlation coefficient of .8755, with a probability of being incorrectly drawn from the same population as less than .0001. When compared with the transient-male assemblage, his collection yielded a correlation coefficient of 0.1544 and a probability of incorrectly drawn from the same population as less than 0.2319. Father Turnells collection was much more like that of the drinking families than the transient males. Given the fact that Father Turnells collection had a higher frequency of household items than either of the family assemblages, it seems unlikely that household items are gender related but, rather, dependent on some other variable such as length of residence. An examination of the remaining artifact categories provides stronger evidence of how gender is manifested in the archaeological record of brothels and saloons (Table 1 and Figure 2). The most obvious link to gender is in the frequency of female-specific items, which are over eight times higher in the brothel data set (8%) than in the saloons (1%). Complementing this ratio, the male-specific items in the brothels (0.1%) are about one-third what they are in the saloons (0.3%). Only five male-specific items appeared in the three brothel collections: two razors, two cuff links, and a jeans rivet. From the saloons, they consisted of buttons from obviously male clothing, suspenders, a leather hatband liner, a mans wallet, a mans shoe, shirt studs, and a pocketknife. Apparently connected with the presence of men in both institutions are the tobacco-related items. As can be seen, artifacts associated with the use of tobacco in saloons was practically identical to that seen in brothels (1.3%) (Table 1 and Figure 2). The selling and, presumably, the use of tobacco was common in saloons, as is evidenced by the ubiquitous appearance of tobacco cases in photographs of saloons, as well as the yearly licenses saloonkeepers paid to sell tobacco. From these archaeological data, it is obvious that tobacco use in the brothels was just as frequent as in the saloons.



Curiously, this pattern of high tobacco use was not evident in the other data sets. The families had much lower frequencies of tobaccorelated items (0.4%) than the transient males (12%) or the priest, Father Turnell (2%) (Table 1). These data suggest that the presence of respectable women in the two family assemblages served to suppress tobacco use. In the absence of these respectable women in the brothels, saloons, transient-male households, and the priests household, tobacco use among men could be indulged more freely. When the tobacco-related items are compared only to other personal items, to control for variables such as differential use of liquor, serving of meals, and use of medicinals, and to concentrate solely on gender factors, the correlation with tobacco use and gender seems even stronger (Figure 3). The frequency of tobacco-

Artifact Category

Figure 3. Frequencies of tobacco-related artifacts in the comparative assemblages relative to all personal items.

related items in the collections associated with drinking families and temporate families is lower than 4% and higher than 18% in the collections associated with the transient males and Father Turnell. In the saloons, it was about 17%. In the brothels, it was only about 7%. Whether the prostitutes themselves also used tobacco, of course, cannot be determined from this set of data alone. The fact that the frequency is not higher in the brothels than in the saloons is inconclusive, as the sample size of brothels is so small. The high frequency of female-specific items in the brothel assemblage probably serves to depress the frequency of the tobacco-related items. The data imply that there is some correlation between the use of

tobacco and gender, and that the brothel setting was a setting in which men, at least, indulged in the use more so than they did at home. It is also significant that the brothel collections had twice as many generic personal items as the saloons (Table 1 and Figure 2). This relationship is the opposite of that observed between transient-male households (46%) and the families. The former had more than four times as many generic personal items than found in the drinking-family (9%) and the temperate family assemblages (11%). The higher frequency of generic personal items in the brothels probably has more to do with what happens in a brothel than it has to do with gender. Buttons and coins, in particular, seem to be more common in brothel collections than in saloon collections. These are the sorts of things that could be easily lost during the process of changing ones clothing, an activity presumed to take place more frequently in a brothel than in a saloon. It is not that women by themselves are changing clothing more often than men, but that the commerce in the brothel involved the changing of clothing. The higher frequency of generic personal items, therefore, is not caused by a gender-related variable but is an occupation-related one. One of the most interesting contrasts between the brothels and saloons is in the pharmaceutical category. The prostitutes appear to generate almost 2.6 times the number of medicinals as the saloon. These women were constantly exposed to communicable diseases of all kinds, not just sexually transmitted ones. Prostitutes commonly used alcohol, morphine, opium, and other drugs to dull the pain and discomfort of their maladies, if not to cure them. That this artifact category may be a gender-related as well as an occupation-related variable is reinforced by the data from drinking-family and bachelor-male households: the drinking-family assemblage yielded 4.8 times the frequency of pharmaceuticals as in the transient-male households. Even the temperate households had 1.6 times as many pharmaceuticals as the transient males. Another case shows how pharmaceuticals can be a gender-related artifact category. The principal difference between Father Turnells collection and those of the drinking families was in the relative frequencies of female-specific items (Father Turnells trash pit had none), and in the



pharmaceuticals. The drinking families had more than twice the relative frequency of pharmaceuticals (Table 1 and Figure 2). It appears that, consistently, pharmaceuticals may be a predictor of gender. Armaments (mostly cartridge casings) were twice as frequent in the brothels as in the saloons (1.5% to 0.8%). Again, the difference might not be significant. The higher frequency in the brothels appears to be almost entirely due to the Vanoli Complex, which contained almost 4% armaments, compared to less than 1% in the other two brothel collections. The Vanoli Complex was notorious for its rough character. Activities taking place within the brothels were disreputable at least and illegal at most. Brothels, in particular those at the Vanoli Complex, may have drawn a slightly less law-abiding clientele than saloons. Antisocial behavior, such as the shooting of guns, may have been more likely to occur in the brothel than in the saloon. Indeed, shooting incidents involving both men and women in brothels made excellent newspaper copy, apparently more so than between men in the saloons. Shootings in 1887 and 1888 attest to the presence of guns at the Vanoli complex. In one of these, the jealous lover of a scarlet daughter of prosperity committed suicide in the Vanolis 220 Boarding House. In another, the Dago fiddler shot his prostitute girl in a fit of jealousy (Gregory 1982:1318). Apparently the mix of sex, guns, and liquor in the somewhat lawless Western gold mining town proved more than some miners could handle and still behave in a socially acceptable manner. When the Vanoli complex is removed from the brothel assemblage, the other two brothels averaged only 0.36% armaments, about a third of that in the two saloons (1.10%), suggesting that the use of arms might actually have been lower in most brothels than saloons. This relationship parallels that of the family and transient-male households, where the bachelors seem to exhibit twice as many armaments than the families. It is possible that the relative frequency of armaments was gender related, but, at least in the case of the brothels, only when communities evolved past their wild and wooly stages and became somewhat more socially stable and law-abiding.

The contrast between brothel and saloon frequencies in the remaining category, the Other Artifacts, is a little harder to explain. The incidence of this group in the saloons (4%) was more than twice that of the brothels (1.7%). The frequency of this category in transient-male households (11%) is more than twice that of drinking-family households (4.5%) and 1.6 times that of temperate families (7%), suggesting this category is indeed affected by gender. It appears that the artifacts generated by turn-of-the-century male-oriented tasks (e.g., bookkeeping, maintenance of horses and vehicles, construction of railroads), for want of another category, ended up being grouped as other. Items generated by womens workespecially those associated with the care and feeding of the familywere more likely to appear in the household categories. As can be seen in Table 4, that trend appears to remain true for the brothels and saloons, with a higher relative frequency of writing, repair, fishing, and railroad construction artifacts in the saloons than in the brothels. Conclusions Variables that appear to select for gender on archaeological sites of Western brothels and saloons are gender-specific items, pharmaceuticals, and a category of Other Artifacts. Relatively high frequencies of female-specific items and pharmaceuticals are directly attributable to prostitutes in the brothels. Higher frequencies of male-specific items and Other Artifacts largely ascribed to male-dominated taskscharacterize the saloons. Household items may be more frequent on sites used by women, but the association with gender in brothels is unclear from this small sample of sites and is complicated by the residence pattern in saloons and brothels. At least with this sample, people were more likely to live in the brothels than in the saloons, thus resulting in higher household frequencies. Higher household frequencies tend to relate to residency rather than gender. The slightly higher frequency of generic personal items in the brothels may be more a function of the activities taking place in a brothel than with the gender of the occupants. The slightly lower frequency of armaments in the brothels (once the wild and raucous gold miners are




Item advertising plaque for furniture advertising sign auto lens cover automotive items barrel band batteries battery, dry-cell bucket bucket, paint business stamps chisel clamp claw hammer clipboard clips crate banding drill bits drills electrode for movie cameras or street lamps erasers files fishing line sinker furnace parts gear glue bottle hacksaw blade handle, bucket horse tack buckle horse tack, strap and hook horse-related items horseshoe nails horseshoes ink bottles ink wells lens, optical, not eyeglass license plate, Alaska, 1930 machine stand miners poke mule/horseshoe other office supplies other repair and maintenance pails/buckets paint brushes 1 2 1 26 7 1 1 1 2 2 6 8 1 1 1 2 2 7 1 56 1 1 1 1 1 3 3 2 1 1 2 1 2 12 1 1 31 3 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 4 1 1 California Miners Pantheon Saloon Home Saloon Saloon Corner Saloon Mascot Saloon Vanoli Complex Hill 60 Aliso Street

1 1 1 42




Item paint/ink bottle paper clips paper fastener pencil, mechanical pencils pens photographic film pulley railroad spikes rubber band rubberized canvas hose ruler safety-related item scale weight - 3 lb shovel sponge tag, dog tire valve tool handle tool handle, small type face wedge whetstone wrenches writing accoutrements yard and garden items 6 4 1 1 3 1 1 1 1 2 1 1 1 5 3 California Miners Pantheon Saloon Home Saloon Saloon Corner Saloon Mascot Saloon Vanoli Complex Hill 60 Aliso Street 1

1 1 2 1 1 1 1 8

1 1

1 1

1 47 6

removed from the comparison) may be gender related, but the samples were too small to suggest anything other than a firm maybe. The data on tobacco pipes were relatively the same for both brothels and saloons and are intriguing. They demonstrate how the women of the brothel indulged the men, perhaps even joined them, in partaking of bodily pleasures in that age of repressed middle-class sensuality. Sex, intoxicating drink, tobacco, all were available for the pleasure of the customer. A Victorian customer who saw a hedonistic woman disobeying the rules of respectable society may well have been all that much more stimulated by the experience, even if it involved so little as the smoking of a cigarette. Women breaking these sorts of social rules at the turn of the century certainly had little reputation to protect. In illustration, the district attorney prosecuting a notorious court case in

Juneau, Alaska, in 1903 sought to establish that a gambling house and saloon was also a bawdy house. He called several witnesses who testified they had seen the male customers smoking, cursing, and leaving their hats on in the presence of the women who frequented the saloon. All actions together were sufficient to establish the reputation of the women as prostitutes. To the court and the jury, a woman who tolerated smoking was a prostitute, ergo, the place was a house of prostitution. The prosecutor did not need to call a witness who had seen or been party to an act of commercial sex (U.S. District Court 1903). It is interesting to note that none of the witnesses stated he had seen the women smoking. Perhaps that activity was left to behind the upstairs doors. When used in conjunction with studies such as Blees (1991), Seiferts (1991b), Costellos (1999), and the other papers in this collection,



these data assist in understanding the manifestation of gender on the archaeological sites left by prostitutes. The lives of prostitutes as revealed by newspaper articles, magistrate records, reminiscences, biographies, and folklore often tell more about the attitudes of those recording the historic documents than about the prostitutes themselves. The archaeological record is somewhat more neutral to the moral judgments pronounced by newspaper editors and reformers. Anthropologists are more likely to find substance in the discarded material culture of prostitutes than in the rosy-tinted lenses through which old prostitutes and miners view the good old days. Knowing that prostitutes used pharmaceuticals in the brothels more than men did in the saloonsand even more than women in family householdsdoes not substantially change our understanding of prostitutes as revealed by the historian. But it does help archaeologists tell the difference between a saloon and a brothel in the anonymous trash pits and sheet middens of the boomtown West. Why should it be important to know the difference between a saloon and a brothel? Ephemeral sites associated with mining, ranching, lumbering, and the construction of railroads litter the Western landscape. Mining communities went bust far more often than they succeeded. The likes of Goldfield, Nevada; Grand Forks in the Yukon Territory; and Independence, Coloradoall of which sprang up overnight and disappeared again in a few monthswere far more common than Fairbanks, Butte, and Denver. Logging and railroad camps housed large groups of men for a few weeks. When the job was done, they moved on. Public agencies in the West today, when logging forests, granting permits to mining companies, and building pipelines, roads, and dams, are recording and destroying hundreds of these sites each year. These archaeological sites rarely existed long enough to generate any kind of historic documentation. Researchers feel lucky if they can find a name for a place, much less know who lived there. Most seem to assume that women had little or no role in these camps, or if they did, it was to serve as surrogate wives, mothers, and sweethearts. These androcentric historians and archaeologists appear to believe wholeheartedly in the statement by Richard

Erdoes in his obligatory chapter on prostitutes in his book Saloons of the Old West : The overwhelming fact that determined the role of women in the West, and their relationship to men was their almost total absence during the early years. Whores, of course, were there almost from the beginning (Erdoes 1979:182). It is almost as if prostitutes were not women at all, but some other kind of creature entirely. Feminist theory holds that if a cultural system is to work and survive, all members of the group must be empowered, must have a role in the society, andmost importantlymust benefit by that role (Spencer-Wood 1991:239). To suggest that women were hangers-on, camp followers, and assistants to the more important work of men in the mining camps is to deny that women were profiting by the phenomenon as well. Women were an integral part of the Western gold rushes; they shared directly in the riches and shaped the society as much as their husbands, brothers, and clients. If the student of history is to acknowledge the contribution of women to the Euro-American peopling of the West, then archaeologists must be able to identify them in the archaeological record. If archaeologists do not attempt an understanding of the difference between households that contained women and those that had only men, or between brothels and saloons, statements similar to the following will continue to appear in the archaeological literature:
At Gold Bar, Feature 6-17 ... was identified as a saloon from the archaeological record. The key was the artifact assemblage, which was heavily dominated by bottle glass and by crown bottle caps. No mention of this saloon, which is quite a distance below [the] camp, could be located in written accounts (Hardesty 1988:78).

As has just been shown, large quantities of liquor bottles and bottle closures do not automatically mean a saloon. Indeed, brothels often generated as large or even larger quantities of bottles and closures as saloons. Because this archaeologist did not quantify the pharmaceutical bottles separately from the liquor bottles, or count the female-specific items independently from those used by men, it is not possible to tell if he and his crew had found the remains of a saloon or a brothel. It appears not to have occurred to him that he might actually



have encountered the remains of a womanowned business. Its very anonymity in the historic record might have been a clue that the business was not entirely legitimate. By not asking the question, the archaeologist merely assumed the site was the remains of a saloon. Until they attempt to pry gender from the discards of the past, archaeologists of the West will continue to assume that the regions settlement by Euro-Americans took place by and for the benefit of its male population. As Paula Petrik (1987) so ably demonstrates, women as family members, entrepreneurs, and reformers played a vitally important role in Western history. Archaeologists can and should contribute as much as the historian to an understanding of our past, in the intelligent, thoughtful reporting of the vast body of anonymous data that lies in the Western forests, recreation areas, and rangelands. Only then will archaeologists have succeeded in saying something different and important about the Euro-American peoplingnot the manningof the North American West. REFERENCES
1959 Klondike Gold Rush (As Recalled by a Participant). Pageant Press, New York, NY. 1986 The Fair but Frail: Prostitution in San Francisco 18491900. University of Nevada, Reno. 1987 Bordellos of Blair Street. The Other Shop, Grand Rapids, MI. 1991 Sorting Functionally Mixed Artifact Assemblages with Multiple Regression: A Comparative Study in Historical Archeology. Doctoral dissertation, Department of Anthropology, University of Colorado, Boulder. University Microfilms International, Ann Arbor, MI. 1995 The Hog Ranches of Wyoming: Liquor, Lust, and Lies under Sagebrush Skies. High Plains Press, Glendo, WY. 1978 Saloons of the American West. Sundance Books, Denver, CO.


1985 Daughters of Joy, Sisters of Misery: Prostitutes in the American West 186590. University of Illinois, Urbana. 1999 The Age of the Bachelor: Creating an American Subculture. Princeton University, Princeton, NJ. 1999 Historical Archaeology at the Headquarters Facility Project Site, The Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, Volume 2, Interpretive Report. Report Submitted to Union Station Partners on Behalf of the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA, from Foothill Resources, Ltd., Mokelumne Hill, CA; Applied Earthworks, Inc., Fresno, CA; and Anthropological Studies Center, Rohnert Park, CA. 1900 Pop Corn Kate Out Again. The Daily Alaskan, 13 May, 1:7. 1901a Popcorn Kate Sets Fashion for a Morning Costume. The Daily Alaskan, 6 November, 4:4. 1901b Let in the Sunshine. The Daily Alaskan, 19 November, 4:3. 1903a All Over. The Daily Alaskan, 9 August:1. 1903b Will Close. The Daily Alaskan, 21 August:2. 1905 Ruth Brown Guilty. The Daily Alaskan, 1 February: 4. 1908 New Alaska License Bill. The Daily Alaskan, 1 February:1. 1979 Saloons of the Old West. Reprinted in 1985 by Howe Brothers, Salt Lake City, UT. 2002 Madam Millie: Bordellos from Silver City to Ketchikan. University of New Mexico, Albuquerque. 1997 Historical Development of the Chena River Waterfront, Fairbanks, Alaska: An Archaeological Perspective. Report submitted to the Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities, from Northern Land Use Research, Fairbanks, AK. 1981 Gold Diggers and Silver Miners: Prostitution and Social Life on the Comstock Lode. University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI. 1982 Ourays Era of Bars and Brothels: The Story of Vanolis Gold Belt Theatre and Dance Halls. Cascade Publications, Long Beach, CA. 1974 The Physician and Sexuality in Victorian America. University of Illinois, Urbana.


















1988 The Archaeology of Mining and Miners: A View from the Silver State. Special Publication Series No. 6. The Society for Historical Archaeology, California, PA. 2001 In the Arms of Morpheus: The Tragic History of Laudanum, Morphine, and Patent Medicines. Firefly Books, Buffalo, NY. 1960 The Orderly Disorderly House. Doubleday, Garden City, NY. 2002 Archeological Investigations in Skagway, Alaska, Volume 9: Excavations at the Pantheon Saloon Complex. Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park, National Park Service, Anchorage, AK. 1983 Final Report, Historical Resources Impact Assessment and Conservation Studies, Highway 3 Realignment, Frank to Blairmore. Report to Alberta Culture Archaeological Survey of Alberta, Edmonton, from Lifeways of Canada, Ltd., Calgary. 1985 Solving Mixture Problems in Archaeology: Analysis of Ceramic Materials for Dating and Demographic Reconstruction. Journal of Anthropological Archaeology, 6(1):128. 1973 The Poor Mans Club: Social Functions of the Urban Working-Class Saloon. American Quarterly, 25(4): 472489. 1962 Klondike Kate: The Life and Legend of Kitty Rockwell, the Queen of the Klondike. Hastings House, New York, NY. 1962 Holladay Street. Ballantine Books, New York, NY. 2003 Hellfire Nation: The Politics of Sin in American History. Yale University, New Haven, CT. 1997 Mining Cultures: Men, Women, and Leisure in Butte, 191441. University of Illinois, Urbana, IL. 1903 U.S. vs. Sam Guis and J. J. Penglas. Record Group 21, U.S. District Courts, First Division, Juneau Criminal Case Files, 19001911, Box 9, File 340 B (1), National Archives-Pacific Alaska Region, Anchorage. 1987 No Step Backward: Women and Family on the Rocky Mountain Mining Frontier, Helena, Montana 1865 1900. Montana Historical Society Press, Helena.


1998 Faces along the Bar: Lore and Order in the Workingmans Saloon, 18701920. University of Chicago, Chicago, IL. 1982 The Lost Sisterhood: Prostitution in America, 1900 1918. Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD. 1991 The Great Western: Legendary Lady of the Southwest. University of Texas at El Paso. 1991a Within Sight [Site] of the White House: TheArchaeology of Working Women. Historical Archaeology, 25(4): 82108. 1991b Gender in Historical Archaeology. Archaeology, 25(4). Historical










1977 Method and Theory in Historical Archaeology. Academic Press, New York, NY. 1991 Toward a Feminist Historical Archaeology of the Construction of Gender. In The Archaeology of Gender: Proceedings of the 22nd Annual Chacmool Conference, Dale Walde and Noreen D. Willows, editors, pp. 234 244. University of Calgary Archaeological Association, Calgary, Ontario. 1981 A Functional Classification for Artifacts from Nineteenth- and Twentieth-Century Historical Sites. North American Archaeologist, 2(3):251261. 1997 Engendering the Klondike Gold Rush. CRM, 2(3): 2930.










1993 Archeological Investigations in Skagway, Alaska, Volume 4: Father Turnells Trash Pit. Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park, Skagway, Alaska. National Park Service, Denver, CO. 1994 Unsubmissive Women: Chinese Prostitutes in Nineteenth-Century San Francisco. University of Oklahoma, Norman. 1997 The Underworld Sewer: A Prostitute Reflects on Life in the Trade, 18711909. University of Nebraska, Lincoln.








1979 The Saloon on the Rocky Mountain Frontier. University of Nebraska, Lincoln. 1980 Rosa May: The Search for Mining Camp Legend. Tree by the River Publishing, Riverside, CA.




Michael D. Meyer Erica S. Gibson Julia G. Costello

City of Angels, City of Sin: Archaeology in the Los Angeles Red-Light District ca. 1900
In June 1996, archaeological excavations at the Union Station in downtown Los Angeles uncovered a portion of the citys former red-light district. The district thrived from the 1870s until a reform government closed it down in 1909. A six-seat privy complex associated with a parlor house (ca. 18801901), densely filled with household items, provides insight into life behind the red lights. Domestic deposits from the prostitutes neighbors were also recovered, providing comparative collections. Artifact deposits were evaluated in the field to ensure that only those collections with integrity and clear historic associations were brought back to the lab for analysis. Documentary research focused on identifying features associated with specific brothels and households. Artifacts were tabulated using minimum number of item counts, and frequency tables were developed for making meaningful comparisons. Noteworthy contrasts between the prostitutes and their neighbors are found in activities related to the consumption of alcohol and food and to grooming and health.

structure and the massive basement excavation. Archaeological deposits consisted of discrete filled deposits, typically privies or trash pits, as well as a sheet refuse deposit collected from Chinatown. Interpretation highlights some differences between deposits from a brothel and neighboring households and the methodologies used to make these comparisons. Union Station lies in downtown Los Angeles in the historic Los Angeles River flood plain (Figure 1). The Spanish pueblo was founded in 1781 and after several moves was established at its present location in 1818 (Marvin 1998:41). During the early-19th century, the area east of the plaza, and the future site of Union Station, was developed into a vineyard. By the 1850s, the site of the project area at the northeast corner of Alameda and Aliso streets contained the winery and brandy works of Matthew Keller. In the 1860s, Keller developed residential lots along Aliso Street for upper middle-class professionals (Marvin 1998:48). As the city grew, the neighborhood changed. Prostitution and the Changing Neighborhood By the 1870s, prostitution was well organized in Los Angeles and concentrated in several neighboring blocks. In 1854, there were an estimated 20 prostitutes in Los Angeles (Mason 1999). That year, the arrival of a troop of lewd women from San Francisco inspired a celebration attended by prominent citizens (Dillon 1994:89). In 1871, the Los Angeles Daily Star noted the flood of prostitution that has, of late, come upon this city. By 1874, the expansion of prostitution was cause for the mayor and city council to approve an ordinance prohibiting houses of ill fame and prostitution in certain parts of the city. Keeping of, or visitation to, a bawdyhouse was a misdemeanor. Conviction carried a fine of no more than $200 or imprisonment for no more than 60 days (Los Angeles 1878:209221). Prostitution activities shifted to the project area along Alameda Street when the city council made prostitution legal

Introduction In 1996, archaeological excavation in downtown Los Angeles, California, at Union Station uncovered deposits from a portion of the citys former red-light district and the surrounding mixed residential and commercial neighborhood. The excavation was conducted prior to construction of the Metropolitan Water District of Southern Californias Headquarters Facility, through the combined efforts of Susan Goldberg, project manager (Applied Earthworks); Julia Costello, co-principal investigator (Foothill Resources); and Adrian Pratezellis, co-principal investigator (Anthropological Studies Center at Sonoma State University). Archaeological excavation was undertaken during the time between removal of the Union Station parking

Historical Archaeology, 2005, 39(1):107125. Permission to reprint required. Accepted for publication 11 November 2003.



Figure 1. Project Location Map.

in a large area between Third and High (Ord) streets (Costello and Wilcoxon 1977:44). During the 1870s, the Aliso Street frontage of the project block held several upscale homes of European and American settlers and an adobe hotel at the corner of Alameda. During the 1880s, the character of the block changed from residential to mixed use. The winery was sold and a sherry distillery and brewery were added. A wholesale fruit business occupied a northern section of the block, just below Chinatown. During this time, many of the Aliso Street residents were French; the hotel at the corner was replaced with the Hotel de France, one of several Basque hotels in the area. Large

residences were converted to boarding and lodging houses or businesses. Families of respectable professionals had moved to more fashionable areas as Aliso Street became home to less respectable professionals. The 1888 Sanborn map (Figure 2) shows the blocks first two brothels, identified as female boardinghouses, occupying two early residences. It was at this time that the police first conducted major raids against the houses. On Saturday evening, 19 March 1887, the lower section of Alameda Street, from First to Aliso, was a lively scene in the city and alive with hacks loaded with the birds and their mates en route to and from the police station (Los



Figure 2. Sanborn Fire Insurance Map of the Aliso Street portion of the Project area 1888.

Angeles [LA] Times 1887). It was reported that every house of prostitution was searched and all but 2 of the 57 individuals arrested were compelled to pay a fine. The raids on Alameda also included one house on Aliso, probably located in one of the female boardinghouses in the project area. Those arrested were Hattie Walker and her inmates, Jane Doe, Ethel Scholer, Georgie French, Gypsey Rivers, and Minnie Palmer (LA Times 1887). Following the raid there was a period of more than a decade when prostitution was not just ignored by legal authorities but also actually promoted as an asset. During the1890s, prostitution was still centered on the downtown and project block. It was advertised as a lure to tourists for the 1894 La Fiesta de Los Angeles, and there were published advertisements including the 1897 Souvenir Sporting Guide (Figure 3). The nature of prostitution was changing at this time, as shown on the 1894 Sanborn map, as brothels were displaced by the expanding number of cribs. The 1894 map shows a line of cribs along Alameda Street in front of the former Keller home. The cribs, constructed of brick, were a series of single rooms with a door and window (Figure 4). Outfitted with a bed, washstand, and chair, they were rented by the month for a six-hour

shift. Crib prostitutes lived elsewhere, often in nearby lodging houses. The crib was a stark contrast to the brothel or parlor house. The crib, with its sparse furnishings, was exclusively a place to transact business. The brothel or parlor house had more amenities, as the word parlor suggests in a Victorian sense (Ames 1986, 1992). The women lived in the parlor house and socialized with clients in nicely furnished surroundings before completing the transaction. Madams managed the parlor house or brothel. Crib District Expansion of the crib district in Los Angeles coincided with the closing of cribs in San Francisco. Chris Buckley, the Democratic Party boss of San Francisco, had been the chief owner of houses of ill fame in that city (Bean and Rawls 1983:255). When they were closed by Mayor James Phelans administration, Buckley used his connections in Los Angeles to move his empire south. Buckley teamed up with Bartolo Ballerino to expand the crib district and create a virtual monopoly. A newspaper article referred to Buckley as the Chief landlord of the fallen women of Los Angeles ( LA Daily Times 1902a). Jean and Blanche Rappet were the



the Horseshoe Saloon, and, presumably, the cribs (Los Angeles County, 1894 22:122133). The Horseshoe Saloon was at the head of Easy Jeanette Street (Figure 5) and was advertised in the 1897 Souvenir Sporting Guide. Blanche Laborde (later Blanche Rappet) was noted as the collection agent in a 1902 article about Big Irene Dowett of Crib No. 9 who was beaten to death (LA Daily Times 1902b). Reform Movement In 1903, the Reverend Sidney C. Kendall headed a reform movement to wipe out the crib district that led to destruction of the cribs in the project area, known as Hells Half Acre. In December of that year, Mayor Snyder addressed the Board of Health:
I see now that the cribs must go. There is a strong element in this city demanding that the red-light district be closed. Their desires must be respected. While I do not think the crusade is a wise one, we will have to give the method a trial. Dr. Johnson replied: I believe a campaign against the houses of prostitution in this city will be a move in the right direction. If we go at it in earnest, we cannot only drive the women out of Alameda street dens, but out of the city, as well (LA Daily Times 1903a).

Figure 3. Souvenir Sporting Guide to the entertainments in Los Angeless turn-of-the-century red-light district. (Reproduced from Robinson 1964.)

chief collection agents for the landlords across Alameda in the project area. By 1899, the cribs in the project area extended further north along Alameda, and a parallel row was built into the block along Shafer Street, renamed Easy Jeanette Street (Figures 5 and 6). According to one account, the cribs on the east side of Alameda housed Asian, African American, and French prostitutes (Mason and McKinstry 1969:8). The cribs were built on land owned by real estate entrepreneur George Shafer and his wife Caroline. The Shafers may have had the cribs constructed since they were leasing them in 1894. That year, No. 734, 734 1 2, and 736 Alameda Street were leased to Sarah Kornfield for three years at $75 per month (Marvin 1998:417). If each room was sublet for two shifts, each at $75 per month, the going rate (Mason 1999:153), Ms. Kornfield may have netted $525 per month. In 1894, Frank and George Shafer (brothers) also leased to Blanche Laborde the original Keller winery building, Keller home, and a building housing

Figure 4. A crib woman posing on her window-seat pillow along Alameda Street in Los Angeles, ca. 1898. (Courtesy of Department of Special Collections, Charles E. Young Research Library, University of California, Los Angeles.)



Figure 5. Two Women at a row of cribs near Alameda Street, perhaps those along Easy Jeanette Street. (Courtesy of Department of Special Collections, Charles E. Young Research Library, University of California, Los Angeles.)

The names of the owners of crib property, including the Shafers and Jean Rappet, were initially listed in the newspapers. Later, the names of the Shafers and members of other noted families were not identified when the district attorney issued complaints against the property owners. Hundreds of church workers marched on the red-light district, gathering more than 2,500 citizens for the Battle of Armageddon to close the cribs and rescue the girls (LA Daily Times 1903c). In January 1904, the wrath of the city felled Ballerino and Buckleys crib operations. In response, they hired carpenters to install counters and shelves so that crib women could ply their trade behind the faade of legitimate enterprise: selling cigars, tobacco, and chewing gum or displaying signs announcing that they had gone into business as dressmakers (LA Daily Times 1904). Across Alameda Street, in the project area, the socially prominent Shafers were embarrassed by the newspapers accounts and the citys intention to prosecute landlords (LA Daily Times 1903b). Within a year their cribs were demolished and replaced by the Newell Mat-

thews warehouse and a Chinese vegetable sellers warehouse and residence (Sanborn 1906). The Ballerino and Buckley cribs across Alameda were also facing demolition by the end of 1904 (LA Daily Times 1904).

Figure 6. 1899 Olmsted map of the Headquarters Project area showing the location of cribs and brothels in the Headquarters Project area between 1896 and 1906.



Figure 7. Looking west on Aliso Street, ca. 1899. The three long, one-story crib buildings are visible on both sides of Shafer Street and along Alameda. (Courtesy of University of Southern California, Regional History Center.)

Although the reformers were able to remove the cribs, the net result was a shift in activity from Alameda and Easy Jeanette Streets to Aliso Street. The 1906 Sanborn map indicates seven of eight properties within the Aliso Street portion of the project area were listed, like the old Keller home, as female boarding houses. Many of the crib prostitutes had placed addresses of their new lodgings in the windows of their abandoned cribs (LA Daily Times 1904). Several of the new brothels (boardinghouses) were above other businesses on the first floor. The crusade against the red-light district continued until 1907, when a local paper claimed the Aliso Street places finally dismantled (LA Daily Times 1907). From the end of prostitution on Aliso Street until construction of Union Station in the 1930s, properties within the project area contained mixed-use residential, com-

mercial, and industrial occupants. Some of the buildings remained as construction offices for the terminal contractors until Union Station was nearly completed. Reconstruction of Life in the Red-Light District There is very little documentary information on the life of prostitutes. Although apparently visited by a good proportion of the contemporary male population, first-hand accounts are rare. The activities, if not illegal, were at least immoral, and neither practitioners nor patrons saw profit in memoirs. Interviews with persons associated with the red-light district of Storyville, New Orleans, provide rare details of life in these establishments that augment other accounts (Rose 1974:147165; Costello 2000).



Other notable exceptions include memoirs and letters from prostitutes (Blair 1919; Washburn 1919; Pinzer 1977). Houses of prostitution are classified into a hierarchy of increasing amenities and cost. The lowest on the ladder are the cribs: rows of small (ca. 6 x 10 ft.) cubicles opening onto a public street or balcony (Figure 7). Crib women in Los Angeles operated in shifts (3 p.m.9 p.m.; 9 p.m.3 a.m.) renting rooms for about $75 per-shift, per-month (Mason 1999: 153). The client was usually charged 50 cents, and he typically did not even remove his boots (Woolston 1921:136137; Rosen 1982: 7879,92,94; Barnhart 1986:x,2532). Crib women, usually older prostitutes, might work independently or for a pimp. Upscale from cribs were brothels and parlor houses. Here the prostitutes lived in the rooms where they worked. The distinction between a brothel and a parlor house is an arbitrary line drawn on a continuous scale of increasingly expensive services and setting. At the lower end, brothels resembled cheap boardinghouses, while more costly parlor houses attempt to simulate upper-class Victorian settings, albeit with an erotic and sensual atmosphere (Rosen 1982:9293; Barnhart 1986:2627,31). At brothels and parlor houses in Los Angeles, fees ranged from $1$5, although one very fancy establishment reportedly charged a $50 entrance fee; madams usually retained a large percentage of the earnings, although in some cases women kept their fees but paid for house services such as board, laundry, and medical treatment (Woolston 1921:104,132136; Rosen 1982:76,9097; Barnhart 1986:27). In addition to client fees, commercial strategies of brothels and parlor houses promoted sales of overpriced liquor and extra services in the bedrooms. Any food served appears to have been free, although types and amounts varied widely. While brothel preliminaries may have included a drink and a dance to a piano tune, parlor houses often encouraged more socializing, advertising special entertainment talents of their women (Rose 1974:161,164; Rosen 1982:9293; Barnhart 1986:2627). The image of extended partying with prostitutes may be part of modern myth as the time allowed a customer was proportionate to price and entering and leaving a brothel could take a little as 15 minutes (Rose 1974:162; Rosen 1982:96).

Archaeological Field Study Based on pre-field documentary research, four areas were selected as likely to yield important archaeological remains. Important remains were defined in the research design and treatment plan (Costello et al. 1996) to achieve compliance with California historic preservation laws as specified in the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) and Appendix K of the State CEQA Guidelines (California Governors Office of Planning and Research 1996). The four targeted areas included the backyards of the Aliso Street frontage, the Keller winery, the Chinese Vegetable Mens Stables and Storage, and the area of the cribs. This reduced the 185,000-sq.-ft. project area to a more manageable 54,000 sq. ft. for the six weeks of fieldwork. The historic ground surface was covered by 3 to 24 ft. of fill and a two-level parking garage structure. Demolition of the garage was monitored. Foundations, which had cut into the historic surface, were left in place until after fieldwork was completed. The field methodology, like much of the research design, was based upon procedures developed by the Anthropological Studies Center at Sonoma State University and the California Department of Transportation for the Cypress Freeway Replacement Project in Oakland, California. This three-year excavation program of 22 city blocks had been completed just a week prior to the Los Angeles project. The Los Angeles project benefited from improvements to methodology made during three years of excavation in Oakland, as well as from experienced crews who just moved south. Cypress veteran Mike Meyer was installed as field director. Testing focused on the backyards of houselots and those areas likely to contain filled features, such as privies, wells, and trash pits. Urban sites are typically covered with abundant quantities of artifacts. The most valuable artifacts are those that can be readily recovered from discrete stratigraphic context and have good historic association. These are more likely found in filled features rather than sheet refuse. Due to time constraints, discovery, evaluation, and treatment of archaeological deposits were condensed into a single field operation. To locate features, later fill and historic ground surface layers were stripped to the sand and gravel subsoil, exposing subsur-



Figure 8. Site overview during mechanical clearing of the Headquarters Project at Union Station. (Photograph by Peter Messick.)

face deposits. Initial clearing was done using hydraulic backhoe-loaders with a 3-ft. wide bucket and, in some cases, an excavator with a 6-ft. wide bucket, all of which were directed by archaeologists (Figure 8). This method is far superior to discovery through monitoring of construction excavation, which usually results in collecting artifacts from a disturbed deposit while attempting to reconstruct rather than excavate the stratigraphic context. After the lots were cleared and features exposed, historic lot lines were imposed over the surface. Lots with intact features were then cleared by hand, using shovels and trowels to better define the features. All features were given a context number and each lot was photographed. Historic features likely to yield significant deposits were then individually photographed, drawn, and tested. Features were tested by stratigraphic hand excavation of half of the deposit, cut vertically from top to bottom. If deposits were deep, an area adjacent to the feature was removed mechanically to allow archaeologists to excavate in from the side. Natural stratigraphic layers were also given context numbers and recorded using the Harris Matrix (Harris 1979, 1989). Information for each feature and layer was entered onto a context record sheet. All excavated soils were passed through 14-in. mesh. If small artifacts (such as fish bone) were noted, 1 8-in. or 116-in. mesh was used. Soil samples were taken of contexts yielding beads or seeds and of primary privy fill. All cross sections of tested features were drawn and photographed. Recovered artifacts were laid out in screens and

marked items dated from field library references. The field director and one of the co-principal investigators then evaluated the feature for research potential. To be determined significant, features must have certain attributes (QIVA): (1) high quantity of artifacts, (2) archaeological integrity, (3) variety of types of artifacts, and (4) good association. If lacking any of these, work was stopped at the half-section and the excavated materials left on site. Exceptions were made for deposits that were still able to address research questions, despite lacking a certain attribute. All features that passed the evaluation were completely excavated, assessed again, and if still qualifying, packaged for shipment to the lab. Evaluation of deposits requires knowledge of the sites historic context and the identities of former residents. Conducting evaluations in the field requires that this information be gathered during preparation of the research design, prior to fieldwork. In some cases, Judith Marvin (Foothill Resources), the project historian, conducted additional research concurrently with fieldwork to refine associations. In cases where historic associations could not be determined in the field, the artifact collection was sent to the lab pending further research. During the Los Angeles project, a total of 47 features were tested, of which 24 were determined to be significant. Laboratory Methods The methods used for this project, refined by laboratory director Erica Gibson, are suitable for artifact-rich urban features; other types of excavations may need different procedures. After the collections of artifacts were returned to the lab, they were washed and each fragment labeled with its layer context number. The artifacts from an entire feature were then laid out by material category (such as ceramic or glass) and crossmended to determine the minimum number of items (MNI). This procedure also identified which layers in a given feature were associated with each other. Privies would often be divided into phases of deposition for analysis: construction, use, and abandonment. Great consideration was given to crossmending and the MNIs, as these are the basis for all comparative analysis. For whole and mended



artifacts, MNIs were simple to assign. Artifacts that did not actually mend but could have come from the same item received a count of one. Unique forms and decorative patterns were also assigned an MNI as were all artifacts with makers marks. Sets of items that would always be used or purchased together received an MNI count of one: teapot and lid, soap dish and drainer. Some items often considered components of a set but not always used or even purchased together were given individual MNIs: cup and saucer, slop jar and pitcher. Mixed materials were sometimes combined for MNI counts: glass feeding bottle with its associated ceramic lid, glass bottle with its associated crown cap. Not all artifacts were amenable to MNI counts, especially such items as clothing and footwear. Individual buttons were used for a variety of purposes and in varying quantities, depending on the garment. Eyelets for shoes were also troublesome. Beads were another difficult artifact type, as a single lampshade could contain hundreds of beads of various styles and colors. Decorative trim or gimp was sold by the yard at more than 100 beads to the inch (Sears Roebuck 1897:319). Thus, some items were not assigned MNIs in the catalog. Food remains such as bone, shell, and seeds were analyzed separately. Building materials, window glass, and nails, which provided little information about a given household or business, were described and sampled in the field and did not receive counts. After crossmending and counts were determined, artifacts were identified using a fourlevel classification system and cataloged by functional-use categories. These have been used by Sonoma State on a variety of late19th-century sites in California. Based on preliminary work with artifacts from Oakland, these categories were further refined for the Los Angeles artifacts to provide more meaningful comparisons on both projects. While the artifacts were assigned to broader classifications of Activities, Domestic, Indefinite, Industrial, Personal, and Structural, the analysis focused on the second-level divisions. At the second level of description, categories provide two types of information: contextual and statistical. Many of the categories with either very small amounts of items or unreliable MNIs pro-

vided contextual information. Those categories with reliable MNIs and larger counts could be used for statistical pattern analysis. Those statistically important categories were Food Preparation and Consumption; Food/Food Storage Containers; Furnishings-Decorative Items; Miscellaneous Bottles, Jars, Cans; Miscellaneous Closures; Grooming; Health; and Social Drugs. These proved to be more meaningful for intraand intersite comparison. After all items were cataloged, crossmending and dating tables were produced to identify phases within each pit or series of pits and associate the collection with known residents. The final determination of date and historical association was done using the dating tables and other historical information. Archaeological materials are treated differently by different archaeologists, and there are a variety of methods and strategies for excavation, artifact analysis, and reporting. The fact that the archaeological record is an incomplete representation of cultural activities further compounds difficulties when comparing artifact collections from different sites. The project team had a comparative sample of neighboring deposits to contrast with the brothel deposit. In the data volume of the project report (Costello et al. 1998), the authors provide enough data and explain procedures so that other researchers can reconcile their data with these. Interpretations of this data were published in a second volume (Costello 1999). Interpretation of the Artifacts Deposits associated with the longest continuously operating brothel in the project area were recovered from 327 Aliso Street (125 Aliso in 1888, Figure 2). Three contiguous backyard privies (Contexts 426, 551, and 586, shown as 426 in Figure 6), totaling an estimated six seats, were filled when the building was connected to the city sewer in 1901 (Figures 9 and 10). The rich life of the 1890s parlor house is archaeologically well documented with more than 10,000 artifacts representing 1,845 individual items recovered (Figure 11). Identifying distinctive aspects of prostitutes lives through their artifacts is difficult unless there is a baseline of normalcy. Fortunately, the collection from the brothel privies can be compared to



Figure 9. Privy 426 Complex. Cross sections and schematic plan view of brothel privies 426, 551, and 586.

Figure 10. Archaeological crewmembers standing in the fully excavated, six-seater Privy 426 Complex. The remnants of the wood lining indicate the individual privy vaults. (Photograph by Peter Messick.)

brothel vs. domestic residence (family and/ or lodgers). Consistent patterns of artifact occurrences within the residence collections were contrasted with artifact occurrences from the brothel. The most useful functional categories for comparison are at the class and subclass level or between selected artifact groupings. Noteworthy contrasts are found in activities related to the consumption of alcohol and food and to grooming and health. Social Drinking To facilitate comparisons of foodways between the brothel and the neighboring homes, all artifacts related to food preparation and consumption were tabulated and normalized at 100% (Table 2). Categories included eating and serving (platters, covered dishes, plates, bowls, and saucers, etc.); tumblers and stemware; cups and mugs; and kitchen and other. The most dramatic difference between the two assemblages is seen in the occurrence of tumblers and stemware (goblets and wine glasses). Represented by 160 items, tumblers and stemware constitute 66% of the parlor houses food vessels and an

the nine collections from blue-collar neighbors on adjacent lots on Aliso Street, excavated and analyzed as part of the Headquarters Project. These residential deposits are contemporary in time, space, and ethnicity. Each assemblage averages an MNI of 300 (range 132715) for a total MNI of nearly 3,600 items (Table 1). Substantial differences in artifact occurrences between the parlor house and the residences can be attributed to household function: commercial



Figure 11. Artifact collection from the Privy 426 Complex. (Photograph by Alice Olmstead.)

average of only 30% of the residences (range 1942%). The quality of the glassware at the brothel was also remarkable and included unusual numbers of cut, pressed, etched, handblown, and colored items. Drink sales constituted a significant source of income in parlor houses, and glasses were an important part of the commercial activities: part of the staged, opulent ambiance, which encouraged abandonment of moral and fiscal inhibitions. It is not surprising that there is a correspondingly (but not as dramatic) lower proportion of cups and mugs in the brothel (7%) compared to the residences amount (average 13%). With this demonstration of the importance of alcohol consumption at the parlor house, it was somewhat surprising that the occurrence of alcohol bottles (as a class within the entire feature collection) was not correspondingly high (Table 3). At 15% it was only slightly above the 12% average of the residences, and two of the dwellings had higher percentages at 16% and 30%. Catherine Spude (this volume) has noted similar patterns of alcohol-bottle recovery in her studies of mining-related communities in the American West, where families who entertained at home approached quantities recovered from brothels and saloons. Also obscuring alcohol consump-


Occupants Brothel Parlor House Euro-Am Residence Family rental Family rental or owner Winery families Lodging house Family rental Family rental Family rental Lodging house Family rental Privy Privy Structure Privy Privy Privy Privy Privy Privy Privy 426 Complex 617 488 594 552 571 616 408B1 485 613 1901 1899 10,190 1,845 Feature Type Feature Number Date of Filling TPQ Count MNI

ca. 1875 ca.1880 1881 ca. 1882 ca. 1885 ca. 1885 1887 ca. 1895 ca. 1895

1870s 1877 1880s 1880 ca. 1880 1880s ca. 1885 1893 ca. 1887

1015 1955 1895 1199 865 427 750 2507 2761

214 339 241 336 132 157 289 421 715




Feature Number Number Brothel 426 Residences 408 485 488 552 571 594 613 616 617B1 Res. average 55 45 59 44 55 50 52 69 55 54 29 35 30 42 24 33 29 19 31 30 13 17 5 13 17 14 15 13 14 13 3 2 7 2 2 3 4 --3 100 99 101 101 101 100 100 101 100 38 69 44 48 42 36 55 16 36 27 66 7 2 101 227 Eating and Serving Tumblers and Stemware Cups and Mugs Kitchen and Indefinite Total % MNI

tion was the well-established second-hand bottle business that routinely collected empty bottles from restaurants, saloons, and hotels (Busch 1987:6970). Eating The preponderance of alcohol drinking in the parlor house is matched by a correspondingly low occurrence of vessels for serving and eating solid foods (Table 2): 27% in the parlor house compared to 54% in the residences (range 4569%). This reflects the commercial role of drinking in these establishments, which overshadows the resident prostitutes meal taking. Food-related ceramic vessels were examined by ware, an attribute that is often used to provide a general economic profile of a household: porcelain wares, improved white wares, and earthenwares (Table 4). The percentage of porcelain wares from the brothel was considerably higher (at 45%) than from the residences (average 25%; range 1238%). Parlor houses were entertaining in an upscale Victorian style, and this staged affluence is reflected in fancier dishes, dominated by small forms as compared to dinner-sized plates. Porcelain dishes were apparently used in the parlor for hors doeuvres

or light fare, while formal meal taking was not part of commercial activities. It was incumbent on madams to keep their workers healthy and contented. Food was good


Feature No. Brothel 426 Residences 408 485 488 552 571 594 613 616 617B1 Res. average 8 9 16 7 3 30 10 9 18 12.2 9 16 30 10 2 44 16 4 15 15 147 % MNI




Feature No. Brothel 426 Residences 408 485 488 552 571 594 613 616 617B1 Res. average 38 35 24 12 19 27 30 18 23 25 46 59 64 79 75 63 59 82 68 66 16 4 10 8 6 10 12 -8 9 100 98 98 99 100 100 101 100 99 26 39 28 24 32 22 34 11 22 45 52 3 100 65 Porcelain White Improved Earthenware Earthenware Total % MNI

and plentiful in most parlor houses. Analysis of the faunal remains revealed few differences in the relative consumption of beef (slightly more than 65%), mutton (nearly 20%), pork (about 5%), poultry (about 5%), and fish and shellfish (about 8%) between the parlor house and the residences. The only thing that may set the brothel apart from its middle- and working-class neighbors is the variety of fish and shellfish consumed: 10 species of fish and 9 species of shellfish for the brothel compared to an average of 3.5 species of fish and 4.3 species of shellfish for the neighbors. Grooming and Health Another dramatic difference between the parlor house and the residences is the proportion of items, relative to the entire collection, that are related to grooming and health (Table 5). Thirty-four percent of the entire parlor house collection is devoted to these activities, compared to an average of 20% in the residences (range 1232%). This higher occurrence is found in both categories: grooming (which included personal items, such as perfume,

brushes, and chamber pots) and health (medicine bottles, syringes) (Costello 2003). Grooming The appearance of youth and beauty were tools of the trade, and investments in cosmetics were likely viewed as prudent. Dominant among grooming items are 20 perfume bottles, 17 cream jars, 9 bottles of cologne, and 17 bottles of Florida Water. The 14 jars of tooth powders and 6 tooth brushes present at the brothel were also numerically impressive, for this was a time when oral hygiene was not well developed. Comely appearance and pleasant odors were likely good for business. Other grooming items included brushes, combs, soap dish sets, pitchers and washbasins, and chamber pots. Health One hundred ninety-nine medicine bottles and vials were recovered from the brothel privies, a relative quantity nearly double that of the residences. Thirty of these are embossed with the proprietors name and address; half




TOTAL Grooming and Health MNI Brothel 426 Residences 408 485 488 552 571 594 613 616 617B1 Res. average 42 42 53 31 11 22 31 6 10 32 24 29 20 15 14 19 12 13 20 20 9 11 8 6 5 9 2 3 15 5 6 5 8 3 6 4 4 6.2 20 25 33 22 3 15 18 2 7 15 14 18 15 4 10 11 4 9 11 2 8 9 1 2 2 4 2 1 5 5 t 2 1 2 4 3 328 34 114 12 193 20 21 2 % Grooming MNI % BREAKDOWN Health MNI % Grooming or Health MNI %

were from C.F. Heinzemans pharmacy at 122 North Main St., only a few blocks from the Aliso Street brothel. The other druggists were also located nearby. Perhaps the most dreaded ailment among prostitutes was venereal disease, with syphilis the most ravaging. Gonorrhea and other infections were also debilitating. Although specific diagnosis and treatment of these maladies were still elusive in the 1890s, their transmission through sexual intercourse, particularly by prostitutes, was well known (Haller and Haller 1974:257258). To combat both disease and conception, injection brews, introduced as a douche, were very popular in Europe and were adopted in the United States (Haller and Haller 1974: 257262). Remains of six rubber syringes and injector bulbs attest to their common use at 327 Aliso Street. The most popular injection brew at the brothel was Darbys Prophylactic Fluid, imported by J.H. Zeilin & Co., Philadelphia. The cure was purchased in quart-sized bottles, nine of which were found in the brothel refuse.

The more popular method of guarding against both venereal disease and pregnancies was application of a salve of Vaseline and boric acid (Haller and Haller 1974:262). Twelve jars of Vaseline were thrown in the privy at 327 Aliso Street. Although this ointment had many other health uses, its abundance at the brothel suggests its primary use as a prophylactic. Pregnancies were usually viewed as personal and professional liabilities. Measures used to prevent conception were generally the same used to prevent venereal disease. The presence of a breast pump in the Aliso Street privy attested to at least one nursing mother on the premises. A Crib Privy Of the mixed deposits recovered from the project, the large 6-ft.-sq. Privy 431, may have been associated with the cribs on Easy Jeanette Street. The cribs shown on the 1899 photograph extend into the middle of the block (Figure 5, the privy structure is blocked from view by other buildings). The privy was built about 1894 to service the extended row of cribs and was filled when the cribs were removed,



and Easy Jeanette was abandoned in 1904. The 6-ft-square structure operated more like a cesspool than a privy. The wood lining of long planks and posts extended to a depth of over 6 ft. (Figure 12). The two complete porcelain toilets in the fill were positioned over the vault, and water from flushing would have quickly leached through the surrounding sand. The mixed fill in the abandoned feature also included boulders, a palm tree stump, a bed, and a variety of Euro-American and Chinese items. The presence of a high proportion of Chinese artifacts in the crib privy fill attests to the proximity of Chinatown and to the likelihood that the abandoned privy, now located in the middle of the new street, was filled with adjacent surface debris. Items most likely to have come from the cribs were the bed, a washbasin, and possibly some of the alcoholic beverage bottles. The low quantity of artifacts in the feature reflects the sparse furnishings of the cribs. With different women sharing a crib on alternating shifts, personal items were likely minimal. When the expelled prostitutes moved

their trade to the boardinghouses, they would have taken any possessions with them. Deposits associated with former crib prostitutes working in lodgings on Aliso Street would be difficult to identify as many of the lodgings and female boardinghouses were above businesses. By 1904 when the cribs were closed, all of the Aliso Street lots had long since been connected to the city sewer, and the privies filled by previous tenants. Refuse collection service precluded backyard disposal, with rare exceptions. Historical documentation of crib prostitutes across Alameda Street being supplied with sham business fronts begs the question of what a deposit associated with one of those women would actually look like. The crib deposit speaks more to the difficulty of finding and recognizing this type of deposit rather than contributing to our knowledge of life in the cribs. Conclusion The success of this project is due to a number of factors. Extensive pre-field documentary

Figure 12. Section photograph of Privy 431. (Photograph by Peter Messick.)



research allowed the project team to focus fieldwork on residential backyards, locations of potentially artifact-rich features. Large scale stripping of surface soils exposed intact discrete features, which were selected for excavation based on their context, integrity, and association. The tight historic associations of these featureswith particular time periods, types of households, and disposal methodsallowed for specific comparisons between artifact collections. Perhaps the most important factor, however, was luck. The best preparation and methodologies do not guarantee that important historical discoveries await beneath the surface. The dissimilarity between the brothel and crib deposits reflects the disparity between these two types of prostitution and their associated commercial strategies. Crib prostitution was commercial sex at the most basic level and, accordingly, the least expensive. The crib was merely a place to work. The brothel was more expensive. Higher fees, the inflated price of drinks, and extra services offset the cost of furnishing the brothel and boarding the prostitutes. The brothel also functioned as the prostitutes home, with all the paraphernalia such a venue suggests. An archaeological study of crib prostitutes may depend on finding their home household refuse deposits, rather than features directly associated with the cribs themselves. The artifact collection from the brothel privy behind 327 Aliso Street is exceptional due to its excellent integrity and association, representing a brothel that had operated for 15 years, and for the substantial volume of material (more than 10,000 items). Renovations of the Aliso Street brothel in 1901 resulted in sets of dishes being discarded, rather than the random broken dish. The archaeological team was also fortunate to have comparative collections from neighboring households. The artifact features associated with these homes provide a standard in time, space, and ethnicity against which brothel activities can be evaluated. In what ways were the lives of late-19thcentury prostitutes different from the lives of contemporary women who kept house, ran lodgings, or worked for wages? Making these comparisons required a reevaluation of standard analytical categories as the brothel prostitutes lived in the same rooms in the parlor house where they conducted their business. Traditional

divisions between public/private and work/home were blurred, as many artifacts could not be easily assigned to one or another. Were liquor bottles, tumblers, and stemmed glasses work related? Were cosmetics? Disease and illness plagued the parlor house, alleviated by drugs and medications; were these personal items or work-related hazards? Fragments of fancy dishes, beaded shades, porcelain cuspidors, and etched-glass lamp globes describe the brothels elaborate parlor where clients were encouraged to relax, imbibe, and experience a staged social ambiance that mimicked parlors in genteel houses. Was this work masquerading as home? Tumblers and stemware constituted 66% of the brothel vessels and only 30% of the residences, while cups and mugs were nearly twice as plentiful in the residences as in the brothels. Social drinking at the brothel and residences clearly emphasized quite different activities. These differences were not only in quantity but also in quality. Fortyfive percent of the parlor house tablewares were of porcelain, while the residences averaged only 25% of these expensive vessels. Discerning differences between public vs. private eatingwork-related foods vs. home-style mealsis possible if archaeologists know where to look The serving vessels (platters, pitchers, tureens, etc.) at the brothel were of the same utilitarian fabric and style as their neighbors, and the types and cuts of meats eaten by the prostitutes were the same modestly priced portions of beef and mutton found on their neighbors tables. While the parlor business required expensive dishes for serving individual patrons, prostitutes ate communal fare from plain dishes after hours. Another area of differences between the prostitutes and their residential neighbors is in the categories of grooming and health. Of all the identifiable artifacts recovered from the brothel, an extraordinary 34% were related to grooming (cosmetics, hairbrushes, perfume, cream) and health (medicine bottles, syringes). This contrasts to an average of 20% from the residences. Are these differences work-related or personal choices? Grooming was, after all, part of the workingwomans stock-in-trade, while the prostitutes life of indulgence and constant exposure to disease made health one of her primary concerns.



It appears that categories developed for analysis of mainstream Victorian culture may not always be appropriate for discerning life in the demimonde, the half-world of prostitution. Women immersed in brothel life may not have defined their purchases in categories important to the larger population. After all, the prostitutes working world involved acts most people of the Victorian period did not even speak about in private. ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
We are grateful that the construction chaos of downtown Los Angeles spared these important historical remains and that when we encountered them, we were prepared. This project was a collaboration of several entities and numerous individuals, all invaluable and appreciated. A few not already mentioned in this article include Elaine-Maryse Solari (of the ASC) who conducted specific research on prostitution and Alice Olmstead who took those great photos of the artifact layouts. Thanks also to the field crew for finishing ahead of schedule, especially those who monitored the mass excavation at night and after a few hours sleep managed to excavate features during the day. We are indebted to the backhoe and excavator operators who skillfully cleared the site (minimizing handwork) and quickly built an earthen dam to hold back the floodwaters from a broken water main, sparing several features, including the brothel privy complex, from ruin. We are grateful to Suzanne Spencer-Wood who provided important insights into our findings. Also thanks to our SHA editor-readers, particularly Catherine Holder Spude, an enthusiastic scholar of prostitution. The Metropolitan Water District of Southern California provided support and funding for the archaeological investigation at their headquarters facility. The Metropolitan Water District is a regional water agency that imports water from northern California and the Colorado River and delivers it on a wholesale basis to the coastal plain of southern California. Through its 27-member public agencies, the district provides almost 60% of the water used by nearly 16 million people living in portions of Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino San Diego, and Ventura counties.


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1996 Archaeological Research Design and Treatment Plan. The Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, Headquarters Facility Project. Report to Union Station Partners, Altadena, CA, on behalf of The Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA, from Foothill Resources, Ltd., Mokelumne Hill, CA; Applied Earthworks, Inc., Fresno, CA; and the Anthropological Studies Center, Sonoma State University, Rohnert Park, CA. Final Report No. 1133, The Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, Los Angeles.





1998 Historical Archaeology at the Headquarters Facility Project Site, The Metropolitan Water District of Southern California. Volume 1 Data Report: Recovered Data, Stratigraphy, Artifacts, and Documents. Report to the Union Station Partners, Altadena, CA, on behalf of The Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA, from Foothill Resources, Ltd., Mokelumne Hill, CA; Applied Earthworks, Inc., Fresno, CA; and the Anthropological Studies Center, Sonoma State University, Rohnert Park, CA. 1977 An Archaeological Assessment of Cultural Resources in Urban Los Angeles, California. La Placita de DoloresLAN-887. Report to the City of Los Angeles, Department of Public Works, Bureau of Engineering. 1994 Alameda District Plan, Los Angeles, California: Prehistoric and Early Historic Research. Manuscript, South Central Coastal Information Center, University of California, Los Angeles. 1974 The Physician and Sexuality in Victorian America. University of Illinois Press, Urbana. 1979 Principles of Archaeological Stratigraphy. Academic Press, San Diego, CA. 1989 Principles of Archaeological Stratigraphy. 2nd Revised Edition. Academic Press, San Diego, CA. 1878 Revised Charter and Compiled Ordinances and Resolutions of the City of Los Angeles. Compiled and Indexed by Wm. M. Caswell. Evening Express Printing Establishment, Los Angeles. 1894 Deed Book 22. Seaver Center Los Angeles County Museum of Natural History, Los Angeles, CA. 1871 No title. Los Angeles Daily Star, 7 December. 1902a No title. Los Angeles Daily Times, 15 November. 1902b No title. Los Angeles Daily Times, 15 December. 1903a Hells Half Acre. Los Angeles Daily Times, 2 December. 1903b No title. Los Angeles Daily Times, 3 December. 1903c No title. Los Angeles Daily Times, 13 December. 1904 No title. Los Angeles Daily Times, 2 February. 1907 No title. Los Angeles Daily Times, 14 December. 1887 No title. Los Angeles Times, 20 March.

1998 Project Area History. In Historical Archaeology at the Headquarters Facility Project Site, The Metropolitan Water District of Southern California. Volume 1 Data Report: Recovered Data, Stratigraphy, Artifacts, and Documents, by Julia G. Costello et al., pp. 4-14-27. Report to the Union Station Partners, Altadena, CA, on behalf of The Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA, from Foothill Resources, Ltd., Mokelumne Hill, CA; Applied Earthworks, Inc., Fresno, CA; and the Anthropological Studies Center, Sonoma State University, Rohnert Park, CA. 1969 The Japanese of Los Angeles. Los Angeles County Museum of Natural History, Los Angeles, CA. 1999 Prostitution in Los Angeles, 18801907. In Historical Archaeology at the Headquarters Facility Project Site, the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, Volume 2 Interpretive Report, Julia G. Costello, editor, pp. 151157. Report to Union Station Partners, Altadena, CA, on behalf of The Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA, from Foothill Resources, Ltd., Mokelumne Hill, CA; Applied Earthworks, Inc., Fresno, CA; and the Anthropological Studies Center, Sonoma State University, Rohnert Park, CA. 1899 Map of Districts bounded by Alameda, Macy, Lyons and Aliso Streets, showing that portion of Chinatown included in the Apablaza Tract. Los Angeles City Engineers Office. 1977 The Maimie Papers, Ruth Rosen and Sue Davidson, editors. Radcliff Collect, The Feminist Press at CUNY, Old Westbury, NY. 1964 Tarnished Angels: Paradisiacal Turpitude in Los Angeles Revealed. Ward Ritchie Press, Los Angeles, CA. 1974 Storyville, New Orleans. University of Oklahoma Press, Norman. 1982 The Lost Sisterhood: Prostitution in America, 19001918. Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore, MD. 1888 Los Angeles. Sanborn-Perris Map Company, New York, NY. 1894 Los Angeles. Sanborn-Perris Map Company, New York, NY. 1906 Los Angeles. Sanborn-Perris Map Company, New York, NY.





















1897 1897 Sears, Roebuck Catalogue. Reprinted in 1968 by Chelsea House, New York, NY. 1897 Souvenir Sporting Guide. In Tarnished Angels, Paradisiacal Turpitude in Los Angeles Revealed, by W. W. Robinson. Reprinted in 1964 by the Special Collections Department, University of California, Los Angeles. 1919 The Underworld Sewer: A Prostitute Reflects on Life in the Trade, 18711909. Reprinted in 1997 by University of Nebraska Press, Lincoln. 1921 Prostitution in the United States. Reprinted in 1969 by Patterson Smith, Montclair, NJ.






Diana diZerega Wall

Comments on Sin City

The publication of this collection of articles on the theme of prostitution underlines the fact that our discipline has come a long way. It was not so long ago that it was difficult to come up with enough papers to fill a publication on the much broader topic of gender. And the articles in this volume are extremely provocative. They raise questions that range from the sublime to the absurd, from the study of the private lives of 19th-century women, including issues relevant to sexuality, birth control, and abortion, to archaeological analysis, including the study of artifact patterns and stratigraphy. I begin this discussion by providing a brief overview of what is interesting about prostitution in the 19th century from my perspective as an archaeologist who studies the construction of gender and class, then discuss some of the questions raised by the individual papers, and finally explore further avenues of research, not only into prostitution but also into the study of sexuality in the archaeological record. One of the most interesting aspects of studying 19th-century prostitution is that it crosscuts the relationships among class, gender, and sexuality. Prostitution became a growth industry in New York City and other urban areas in the early part of the 19th century, and its growth was directly related to the redefinitions of class and gender among the newly forming middle and working classes (Reed 1984; Gilfoyle 1992). This was the period when the impact of the development of the market economy was first being felt intensively in American society. In a volatile economy, the principles of market exchange were replacing those of redistribution and reciprocity. Land, labor, and other phenomena (including sexual relations), which had traditionally been aspects of social relations, became commodities to be bought and sold on the open market.

During this period, gender was redefined among the middle class. In the 18th century, the home was looked on as a little commonwealth (Demos 1970), a microcosm of the larger society. Men mediated between their households and the larger society, producing goods in the home to be sold at market and buying goods at market to be used at home. Men were responsible for the moral and physical well-being of the members of their households, which might include employees such as servants, journeymen, and apprentices as well as the enslaved. By the mid-19th century, their roles had changed. Now, their main responsibility was for their familys economic welfare, and men represented their households interests in the public arena of the marketplace, which was cut off from moral considerations. The roles of middle-class wives had also changed dramatically by the mid-19th century. In the 18th century they had served as their husbands helpmates and were directly involved in the production side of the economic life of the household; now their main responsibility was limited to two relatively narrow aspects of social reproduction. First, they were responsible for nurturing and looking out for the moral welfare of their families. It was their job to raise the children and create a family haven in the heartless world (Lasch 1977) of the marketplace. Their second job was to negotiate their families position in the class structure. To this end, they built and maintained social ties and promoted the image of the familys gentility, an image that was important in gaining entry for their children into the ranks of the middle class. Their economic role now focused on consumption. Although domestic servants continued to live with the family that employed them, forming part of the middle-class household, employees who worked in the family business no longer did. Although women were more confined to the arena of the home than they had been in the 18th century, they gained power (including power over sexuality and reproduction) within that arena.

Historical Archaeology, 2005, 39(1):126132. Permission to reprint required. Accepted for publication 11 November 2003.

DIANA DiZEREGA WALLComments on Sin City


One of the contradictions posed by this new reworking of middle-class family relationships was producing a manageable number of children in a relationship that was ideally based on romantic love. For the middle-class family in the market economy, children, who had traditionally provided an extra pair of hands, had now become an economic liability. They had to be carefully nurtured and expensively educated. In an unstable economy, raising more than three or four children proved to be unmanageable; in fact, during the 19th century, the birthrate fell by 50% in the United States, from an average of 7.04 births per white woman in 1800 to an average of 3.56 in 1900 (only figures for white women are available; Degler 1980:181). This was accomplished among the middle class by several methods: later marriage, access to birth control, and recasting wives and mothers as essentially pure asexual beingscreating the ideal of sexual abstinence for middle-class men. This meant that for many middle-class men, sexuality became disconnected from home life. They pursued sexual activities away from home at the houses of prostitution that began to flourish at this time. The working class of the early-19th century was a heterogeneous group of predominately native-born people who worked with their hands and who had inherited the republican ideology of the Revolutionary War. It was their fathers who had served as journeymen in the shops of master craftsmen, often boarding with their employers. They had been able somewhat realistically to look forward to becoming master craftsmen in their own right. But their sons were becoming part of a permanent wageearning working class, living in the growing working-class neighborhoods like the Five Points in New York. They either worked in their employers shops or at home as part of the out-work system. By the 1840s, the working class in the United States was reinventing itself again: most of its members were now immigrants, first from Ireland and Germany and later from Italy and Eastern Europe. This continued to be the working-class pattern in the United States until after World War I. A workingmans wage was usually not enough to support a family in the 19th century, and the working class developed the economic strategy of the family-wage economy: the economic unit

was the family as a whole with contributions made by husbands/fathers, wives/mothers, and sons/daughters, pooled together for the good of all (Tilly and Scott 1978). Having a number of children, then, was perceived as an asset and even a necessity in many working-class families throughout the 19th century. The women of the working class, unlike their middle-class counterparts, worked both inside and outside the home. They helped make ends meet by using various economic strategies. The work of working-class women tended to follow ethnic lines. Many African women tended to perform domestic service, with many working at home as laundresses. Many young, unmarried Irish women (most had emigrated on their own) worked as servants, living in the homes of the middle- and upper-class women who were their employers. In New York City, for example, census records indicate that more women worked in domestic service than in any other sphere. Irish women, both married and single, also worked in their own homes, often as seamstresses or laundresses, while German women tended to work alongside their husbands and children in family-organized shops in the tailoring and other trades. Women of many ethnic groups also provided accommodations for boarders, who were often recent arrivals from the home country (Cantwell and Wall 2001). But in the 19th-century United States, it was almost impossible for a young working-class woman to earn enough to keep herself on her own, without the support of a householdbe it as a daughter or wife contributing to the family wage economy or as a domestic living as an inmate in a middle- or upper-class household. In fact, one of the only ways that she could succeed comfortably on her own was by being a prostitute. For a few years of her life, a woman could make considerably more money as a prostitute than she could in any of the other jobs that were open to her. Most prostitutes came from poor, working-class families where one or more of their parents had died or where there were problems at home. Although many worked at prostitution full time, others were occasional prostitutes who worked in other trades but used prostitution to supplement their incomes. Most had left the life by the time they were 30, to go on either to marriage or to another profession, while some died, perhaps



from venereal disease or from violence directly related to their profession (like Helen Jewett, whom Rebecca Yamin mentions, this volume) or from the complications of drug or alcohol addiction (Hill 1993:46). A few, however, stayed in the trade and went on to own and run their own brothels as madams (like Mary Ann Hall, discussed by Elizabeth OBrien and Donna Seifert and Joseph Balicki, and Nina Clifford, discussed by K. Anne Ketz et al., this volume). Being a madam was one of the few professions where, for a few brief decades in the 19th century, women could hold managerial positions and even be entrepreneurs. Although prostitution posed life-threatening risks to all of its practitioners, it could provide them with a good income for a short period of time. It also provided a few of them with opportunities that they could have in almost no other walk of life (Stansell 1986:191; Hobson 1987; Gilfoyle 1992; Hill 1993). The phenomenal growth of prostitution in the early-19th century and its persistence throughout the rest of the century in the United States was contingent on several larger processes that were at work, which resulted in the encounter between men from the middle and working classes and working-class women at houses of prostitution. The papers included in this volume provide archaeological views of prostitutes plying their trade in a broad variety of situations in different parts of the United States. Some worked in the cities of the Eastern seaboard, while others worked in the frontier towns and cities of the West. Some, like the examples from Washington, St. Paul, and Los Angeles, worked in high-end parlor houses, where clients and prostitutes were often personally known to each other. Others, like those in New York and in the frontier towns, worked in low-end bawdy houses and even cribs, where all members of the public were accommodated. The articles provide insight into the details of daily life inside all of these different kinds of brothels. Most of the questions that I am going to raise about these papers have to do with the methods of analysis of archaeological data. Following Rebecca Yamin (1998), I feel deeply that it is important to ensure that, as many of us look beyond the strictures of processual archaeology and explore the insights that become accessible through postprocessual archaeology, we dont

throw the baby out with the bath water and forget the valuable lessons that processual archaeology has taught us for analyzing our data. Yamins and Thomas Crists studies of prostitution and of possible infanticide and abortion, respectively, in the Five Points district of New York focus on a basement bawdy house, a form of brothel reputed to be at the bottom of the brothel hierarchy (Sanger cited in Hobson 1987: 108). They both provide wonderful historical contexts for their material. But I do have a question about their analysis of the privys stratigraphy. In their analyses, they lump all six of the lowermost strata of the privy together into a single analytical unit and attribute them to the brothel (Yamin, Figure 2, this volume). However, it seems to me as though these six different strata resulted from two very different kinds of events: based on their soil descriptions and relative positions in the privy, strata 5 through 8 seem to have resulted from acts of dumping garbage into the privy after it was no longer being used, perhaps when the bawdy house was closed down. Judging from their soil descriptions as well as their location at the bottom of the privy, however, strata 10 and 11 appear to be made up of night soil resulting directly from the privys use. So, while it might be possible to attribute one or more of the sets of artifacts from the dumped strata to the brothel, it would have to be assumed that the artifacts in the night soil came from several of the households within the building and accumulated over a long period of time. In fact, if this privy is like others in New York, some of these night soil layers may have been left over from earlier episodes of cleaning out the privy. If this interpretation is accurate, I wonder about the overglaze painted Chinese export porcelain tea set. Yamin is correct in saying that large numbers of such tea wares are relatively rare in assemblages that date from the 1840s in New York City. However, they are not rare in assemblages that date to earlier in the century there. An assemblage from a feature (Feature 48) at the Barclays Bank site with a mean ceramic date of 1803, for example, included 21 (out of a total of 28) tea ware vessels of overglaze-painted Chinese export porcelain. Another assemblage from a feature (Feature AX) at the Telco site, with a mean ceramic date of 1804, included 5 out of a total of 13 tea wares of overglaze-painted Chi-

DIANA DiZEREGA WALLComments on Sin City


nese export porcelain (Wall 1994). I wonder if the overglaze-painted Chinese export porcelain set that Yamin describes, in fact, came from the lower, earlier strata: strata 10 and/or 11. If so, it had probably been dumped into a layer of night soil much earlier in the century and survived all subsequent privy cleanings, only to be excavated finally by the archaeologists over a century and a half later. The two papers on Mary Ann Halls parlor house in Washington, DC, provide an incredibly rich view of a high-end brothel in the nations capital and its extremely successful madam. Elizabeth OBriens paper provides a detailed historical context for prostitution in Washington in general and for Halls brothel, in particular. By a wonderful coincidence, she even found the inventory made of Halls house at the time of her death, although the house had not apparently functioned as either a brothel or Halls home for several years before the inventory was made. Donna Seifert and Joseph Balicki did a wonderful job in comparing the assemblage from Halls brothel with assemblages from later Washington low-end bawdy houses and from contemporary Washington middle-class and working-class homes. The high-end parlor house assemblage consistently contrasts with those from the working-class households but shares many attributes of those from the middle-class homes. I do wish that they had eliminated the architectural materials from their artifact pattern study (as Catherine Spude points out, architectural artifacts can swamp other functional categories in an assemblage and do not reveal anything about what took place at a site other than construction and demolition activities, which are not of interest in this context). I also wish that they had included health and/or hygiene-related artifacts as a separate functional category for comparing this assemblage with those described in the other papers. What is particularly interesting about their study, however, is that they see no simple brothel artifact pattern or signature shared by the high-end parlor house and the later lowend bawdy houses. Their study points out the subtleties of class (including the class of both the prostitutes and of their targeted customers) as well as of time in outfitting a brothel in the 19th century. K. Anne Ketz, Elizabeth Abel, and Andrew Schmidts study compares the materials found

in excavation units located in the front- and backyards, respectively, of a high-end parlor house in St. Paul, Minnesota. Their study uses artifacts to differentiate clearly the function of the front, or parlor room, where male customers were entertained, from the function of the back of the house, where sexual services were actually performed and where the prostitutes lived. I think that their study would have benefited from being kept simple, only drawing on the artifacts from the two assemblages directly relevant to their research problemthe midden from Feature 3 and Stratum A from Unit 5and ignoring the artifacts from other assemblages at the site. Spudes paper compares assemblages from saloons with those from brothels in an attempt to look for a signature for identifying both brothels and saloons in the American West, where these businesses were often ephemeral and not recorded in the written records. Her ultimate goal is the worthy one of developing a way to examine the construction of gender and to recognize and acknowledge womens contributions to the frontier West, a contribution that is often ignored, as she points out, by historians and archaeologists alike. Spude does this by cleverly constructing a functional artifact taxonomy that she feels can be sensitive in recognizing the presence of women at frontier Western sites and analyzing the artifact patterns from the different kinds of sites. She is to be applauded for removing the architectural materials from the assemblage; I think she might have also removed the bottle closures from the analysis because, as she notes, their presence is temporally, and not functionally, related. I also think that she pushes her data further than it warrants. She underlines the differences in the percentages of different kinds of artifacts, even in cases where they are quite small. Also, one cannot accept ones data in the instances where it fits the hypotheses (as she does throughout the paper) but blame the instances where it does not fit on the fact that the sample is small (for example, in discussing tobacco use and household items). As might be expected, a high percentage of used female specific artifacts does seem to be a signature for recognizing the presence of women on a site. An enigma in these assemblages in my opinion is the high percentage of artifacts associated with



Household Items from the cribs at the Vanoli Complexin fact, the highest percentage associated with any of the brothels or the saloons. These cribs were tiny one-room cabins where, according to Spude, prostitutes worked but did not live. The quantity of these domestic artifacts in this assemblage suggests that there is something awry either in terms of site formation processes or the interpretation of the function of this part of the site. The final paper in the volume examines prostitution at the turn of the 20th century as revealed through a project in Los Angeles. Michael Meyer, Erica Gibson, and Julia Costellos paper describes the methods used in the project, which proved to be extremely productive, generating assemblages from a highend brothel as well as from other segments of a Los Angeles working-class community. The well-thought-through methods demonstrate how far urban archaeology has come over the last quarter of a century. This study compares the assemblage from the brothel with those from its blue-collar neighbors, showing that the brothel has a markedly higher percentage of artifacts associated with alcohol consumption, personal grooming, and (as we now know to be typical for brothel sites) for health care. The authors have provided us with very interesting articles, and I would like to build on their ideas by making some suggestions for future research. First of all, I cannot urge too strongly that we perform more rigorous analyses of the artifacts that we generate by our excavations. Take the ceramics involved in serving meals as an example. A multivariate analysis that takes into account vessel form, ware type, and style or decorative pattern, and where the vessel (rather than the sherd) is the unit of analysis, similar to what Yamin did, allows us to talk, for example, about a preference for white ironstone table plates in the gothic pattern or gilt-decorated European porcelain teacups. Using this kind of analysis and quantifying our vessels will allow us to make meaningful comparisons between the objects used in different kinds of cultural contexts, such as middle-class homes, workingclass homes, brothels, and saloons. The papers by Seifert and Balicki and Meyer et al. especially would benefit from this kind of analysis. Spudes comparison between brothels and saloons, where women and men (respectively)

were making consumer decisions, provides another example of the advantages of this kind of analysis. An interesting question here is whether the saloonkeeper was choosing china and glassware in patterns similar to those that his neighbor, the brothel madam, was choosing. In other words, did he use china to evoke the image of middle-class or working-class home life, as at least some of the brothel keepers appear to have done, or is he eschewing these symbolic references to domesticity and instead drawing upon other cultural references for his saloon? On a completely different note, these papers also underline the potential of archaeological material to allow us to study the private lives of the people of the 19th-century United States and to explore a topic that could make a contribution to our understanding of gender and sexuality among both the middle and the working classes: contraception and birth control. This was (and is) obviously an issue of importance to working prostitutes, but it was (and is) also relevant to those members of the married middle class who needed to put a cap on the number of children that they had. For almost the half century before the 1870s, knowledge about various birth control techniques was widely available, at least among the literate. Books on sexuality, often framed within a neo-Malthusian discourse and including explicit descriptions of different birth control techniques, began to be published in the United States in the 1830s and continued to form part of the middle-class prescriptive literature for much of the century (Reed 1984; Brodie 1994). From this literature we know about the birth control techniquesand there were manythat were available at the time. In fact, from the time of the invention of vulcanized rubber in the mid-19th century to the introduction of the birth control pill in the 1960s, there were no technological innovations in contraception (Reed 1984: 6; Brodie 1994). Techniques of birth control included abstention, male withdrawal or coitus interruptus, the timing of sexual intercourse or the rhythm method, abortion (as discussed by Crist, this volume), condoms (made of intestines or, later, vulcanized rubber), vaginal douches administered by syringe and vaginal sponges with ribbons or strings attached (both used with or without spermicides), and diaphragms (also known as pessaries and womb veils,

DIANA DiZEREGA WALLComments on Sin City


which became popular after the introduction of vulcanized rubber). We do not know the extent to which individuals actually used the different techniques available (Reed 1984:32), and this is where archaeological collections might help. By their nature, we would expect that the use of some of these techniques would be visible in the archaeological record, while the evidence of other techniques obviously would not. Included in the first category are the vaginal syringes (introduced in the 1830s) and sponges as well as the containers for the spermicides used along with both of them (assuming they came in bottles with embossed labels), diaphragms, and condoms. As we see from Crists article, evidence of abortion might also appear in the archaeological record, although it would in most cases be impossible to distinguish spontaneous abortions from those that were induced. With the exception of condoms, all of these techniques (including abortion) were under the control of women and could be carried out without the knowledge of men (an asset often underlined in the prescriptive literature). These are the techniques that we would expect to find being used by prostitutes as well as by middle-class wives. The other techniquesabstention, coitus interruptus, and the rhythm methodwould obviously not appear in the archaeological record at all: these techniques (along with the use of condoms) require the active participation of men. We might expect these techniques to have been used in the homes of middle-class families but not (with the exception of condoms, which were also used to prevent venereal disease) in houses of prostitution. Finally, in the United States the passage of the Comstock laws, which began in 1873, must have had a devastating effect on the dissemination of information about birth control. These laws prohibited sending obscene literature and materials, explicitly including any article whatever for the prevention of conception ... in the mail. New editions of the self-help books that had been so popular for the last half century were now republished with all references to birth control deleted from them. State and local laws fashioned after the original legislation sometimes were even more stringent, making even the practice of contraception illegal. Another question that archaeologists might consider, then, is what was the impact of the Comstock laws

on the practice of birth control in the United Statesdo we continue to see artifacts that could be used for contraception in assemblages from houses of prostitution and middle-class homes that date to the last quarter of the 19th and early-20th centuries at the same frequencies as in the mid-19th century? I strongly urge that archaeologists begin to take advantage of their data sets and look for the possible evidence of contraceptives in their assemblages. Most of the articles in this volume make no mention of either the presence or absence of such artifacts. The exceptions are the articles by Yamin and Meyer et al. Yamin mentions the presence of coins in the assemblage, which she suggests may have been affixed with Vaseline to the cervix, providing a seal through which sperm could not penetrate. Both mention that the assemblages they studied contained douche syringes as well as vessels whose contents could well include spermicides. Of course, women used these syringes for therapeutic purposes as well as for birth control. Such syringes have also been discovered at many other middleclass and working-class sites in New York City (Howson 1987). Archaeologists working in both Sydney and Melbourne, Australia, have also found bone rings, which they interpret as being the rings that form the frames for diaphragms or contraceptive pessaries (Karskens 1999:173178), devices that became popular after the mid-19th century. It is this kind of insight into the private lives of the men and women of the working and middle classes that archaeology can allow us to explore. ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
I am grateful to Jose Torres for his help with some of the research for this paper and, of course, to Donna Seifert for inviting me to participate in the original symposium as well as in this volume.

1994 Contraception and Abortion in Nineteenth-Century America. Cornell University Press, Ithaca, NY.




2001 Unearthing Gotham: The Archaeology of New York City. Yale University Press, New Haven, CT. 1980 At Odds: Women and the Family in America from the Revolution to the Present. Oxford University Press, Oxford. 1970 A Little Commonwealth: Family Life in Plymouth Colony. Oxford University Press, New York, NY. 1992 City of Eros: New York City, Prostitution, and the Commercialization of Sex, 17901920. W. W. Norton, New York, NY. 1993 Their Sisters Keepers: Prostitution in New York City, 18301870. University of California Press, Berkeley. 1987 Uneasy Virtue: The Politics of Prostitution and the American Reform Tradition. Basic Books, New York, NY. 1987 The Archaeology of Nineteenth-Century Health and Hygiene: A Case Study from Sullivan Street, Greenwich Village, New York City. Masters thesis, Department of Anthropology, New York University. 1999 Inside the Rocks: The Archaeology of a Neighborhood. Hale and Iremonger, Alexandria, NSW, Australia.


1977 Haven in a Heartless World: The Family Besieged. Basic Books, New York, NY. 1984 The Birth Control Movement and American Society. Princeton University Press, Princeton, NJ. 1986 City of Women: Sex and Class in New York, 17891860. Knopf, New York, NY. 1978 Women, Work, and Family. Holt, Rinehart, and Winston, New York, NY. 1994 The Archaeology of Gender: Separating the Spheres in Urban America. Plenum, New York, NY. 1998 Discussant. Remarks delivered at the symposium Digs in Space, organized by Christopher N. Matthews. Annual meeting of The Society for Historical Archaeology, Atlanta, GA.















Timothy J. Gilfoyle

Archaeologists in the Brothel: Sin City, Historical Archaeology and Prostitution

The essays in this volume contribute to recent historical analysis that rescues prostitution from the literature of deviancy and crime. Prostitutes are not considered fallen women but, rather, females who made rational and sometimes desperate choices when confronted with limited possibilities. Furthermore, we now know more not only about the prostitutes themselves (something painfully lacking in the American literature before 1980) but also about the culture and material conditions in which they lived and worked.

The history of prostitution is a hot topic. In 1996, the city council of Fort Smith, Arkansas, appropriated nearly $700,000 to restore the early 20th-century brothel of Laura Ziegler, better known as Miss Lauras Social Club (Clines 1997). The building is now the only brothel listed on the National Register of Historic Places. A documentary film on Storyville, the legalized sex district in turn-of-the-century New Orleans, recently appeared (Craig and Harris 1997). And a small frontier town of Kalgoorlie, Australia, recently transformed a former brothel into the Museum of Prostitution (Farnsworth 1997). Fascination with prostitution now extends deep into the academy. The study of sexuality is currently one of the most dynamic fields, influencing almost every discipline in the humanities and social sciences. Prostitution is a central topic in this literary outburst. In American history, more than a score of books on the subject have appeared in slightly more than a decade. More voluminous is the bounty of articles (Gilfoyle 1999:117119). Indeed, it is now possible to devise and organize undergraduate and graduate history courses with lengthy and complex syllabi devoted strictly to the history of prostitution.

Scholarly treatments of prostitution represent an important reorientation. Whereas most studies before 1980 played to the sensational and salacious (Gentry 1964; Robinson 1964), recently historians and now archaeologists document in surprising detail the culture and evolution of prostitution. Since prostitutes left few written records, older scholarship concentrated on public and private movements to control or eliminate prostitution, red-light districts, and the most visible and elite forms of prostitution. Virtually all of these accounts relied upon published primary and secondary sources; few authors ventured into an archive (Henriques 1962; Symanski 1981; Bullough and Bullough 1987). By contrast, recent historical narratives reconstruct not only the daily lives of prostitutes and the structural forces that shaped their behavior but also the multiple underworld subcultures that infused the world of the demimonde, the organization of prostitution in the context of the 19th-century underground economy, and the relationship of each to larger societal trends. Historians have effectively re-created the larger cultural framework within which prostitution flourished (Gilfoyle 1999). Certain themes prevail in this historiographical literature. Most argue or imply that prostitution embodied more than just deviant sexual behavior. Much evidence argues that commercial sex functioned at the nexus of social relations in community life, especially in the industrial city after 1800. Definitions of crime, the status of women, new forms of economic development, changing gender relations, the use of urban real estate, the application of modern theories of health care, the rise of popular entertainment, and the appearance of alternative or bohemian subcultures were directly linked to commercial sex. In ambiguous, paradoxical, and controversial ways, prostitution represented a critical, ongoing conflict between individual freedom and community norms (Gilfoyle 1992, 1998b:178179). These issues are directly relevant to the essays in this volume. Archaeologists are uncovering

Historical Archaeology, 2005, 39(1):133141. Permission to reprint required. Accepted for publication 11 November 2003.



in exacting detail the material culture of the daily lives of prostitutes, clients, and other participants in the 19th-century sex industry. The investigations presented here demonstrate how archaeologists are addressing problems similar to those confronted by social historians. For example, prostitution in Europe, Africa, and Asia was a sexual activity whose boundaries were frequently controlled and defined by the state. Intermittent periods of legalization and regulation produced a unique and considerable corpus of government records. Specifically, data from the files of police forces and law enforcement agencies enabled European, African, and Asian historians to examine the employment history, family background, marital status, and medical history of prostitutes (Walkowitz 1980; Harsin 1985; Corbin 1990; White 1990; Guy 1991; Hershatter 1997). Except in a few cases, such as St. Louis and New Orleans (Burnham 1971a, 1971b; Rose 1974:115; Sneddeker 1990), American historians and archaeologists enjoy few such sources in their studies of commercial sex. Archaeologists are gathering more data on the material culture of prostitution at the very moment some historians have moved away from empirical examinations of prostitution. In her pathbreaking study of 20th-century Shanghai prostitution, Gail Hershatter (1997:23,212) argues that sources on prostitution are so ingrained in discussions surrounding issues of pleasure, regulation, and reform that they cannot be used in any straightforward way to reconstruct the lived experiences of these women. In most cases, prostitutes never speak in their own voices, even when testifying in court. According to Hershatter (1997:24,328), no clean boundary can be drawn between looking at facts and at their production. The most significant discoveries in these essays address the domestic arrangements and material culture of daily brothel life. Most striking are the high levels of conspicuous consumption discovered in elite and sometimes even less-affluent brothels. In Mary Ann Halls Washington, DC, brothel, Elizabeth OBrien, Donna Seifert, and Joseph Balicki (in this volume) found that over 50% of artifacts and ceramics in Halls house were ironstone and porcelain. Brothel residents and visitors seemed to have enjoyed a dietary variety com-

parable with high-income Euro-Americans in the Atlantic coastal plain, including wild birds, turtle, fish, and expensive cuts of beef. On the other side of the country, Michael Meyer, Erica Gibson, and Julia Costello reach similar conclusions. The disproportionate number of upscale artifacts such as tumblers, fine China, and wine goblets at the 327 Aliso Street site in Los Angeles reflects the material and staged affluence of brothel residents, relative to contemporary middle-class households. The length of time the site was a brothel (15 years), the volume of materials (more than 10,000 artifacts), the disproportionate amount of grooming materials (34%), and the comparative collections from nearby households provide compelling proof that late-19th-century prostitutes enjoyed a higher level of material affluence than their neighbors. Even the evidence found in impoverished Five Points suggests the same. Although Rebecca Yamin (this volume) argues that Five Points prostitutes were not wealthy, the artifacts at 12 Orange Street indicate they accumulated enough disposable income to acquire expensive possessions and engage in conspicuous consumption. The Five Points site revealed surprisingly elegant items in the Orange Street privy: fancy ceramics, pressed-glass punch cups, large numbers of wine bottles, flacons to hold brandied fruits and delicacies, and glass bird feeders. Indeed, the Chinese export porcelain exceeded the quality of anything owned by the upper middle-class Robson family. The deposit also included exotic foodsveal, soft-shell clams, coffeenot found anywhere else on Block 160. Prostitutes, as Yamin rightly concludes, lived dual lives, coming from one thing and portraying another. The material evidence found in all of these essays argues that not only did residents of elite brothels enjoy a higher standard of living than their middle-class counterparts but even prostitutes in the lower-rung dives and saloons of Five Points were materially better off than their impoverished workingclass neighbors. These archaeological findings confirm published observations of 19th-century contemporaries, many of which have been dismissed by historians as exaggerated and sensational. Writers like Matthew Hale Smith, George Ellington, James W. Buel, and others consistently noted the

TIMOTHY J. GILFOYLEArcheologists in the Brothel


conspicuously consuming habits of elite brothel habitus. Smith (1868: 375376) wrote that Gothams first-class parlor houses were more elegantly furnished than hotels. Quiet, order, and taste abound. The lady boarders in these houses never walk the streets nor solicit company. ... They dress in great elegance, and quite as decorously as females generally do at balls, parties, or at concerts. ... Everything about the house is elegant. ... All that grace and attraction can do to secure visits is employed. In 1881, James McCabe concurred: They are located in some quiet, respectable portion of the city, and outwardly appear to be simply private dwellings. While neighbors were often ignorant of the true character of the house, McCabe believed such brothels represented the aristocracy of vice (1881:476479; also Sanger 1858: 550551; Ellington 1869:232235). Archaeological evidence not only confirms these observations but also further complicates our understanding of the hierarchy of brothels. Parlor houses, sometimes called private brothels, were establishments with high prices, exclusive clients, and admittance by appointment only. Such houses protected the secrecy and anonymity of their clients. One observer wrote that if two gentlemen enter together, both are presented to the parlor. But no other gentleman can enter while they remain. If any one leaves the house from up stairs [sic], the parlor door is shut and guarded. No one looks out, and no one looks in. Such are the inexorable rules of the house (Smith 1868:376). Indeed, the label parlor house reflected an emphasis on replicating the domestic atmosphere, privacy, and physical environment of the middle-class home. Such houses represented a widening chasm based upon gender and class between affluent madams and less successful male workers (Gilfoyle 1992:8485,164165). Compare Mary Ann Halls Washington establishment with Minnie Fischers elite brothel at 47 Bond Street in New York City. When Fischers business was raided by the police and closed down in 1883, the household property was sold at auction. Fischers goods included household furniture like corner tagres, rocking chairs, antique and lace curtains, decorative lambrequins, gas brackets and globes, decorated toilet crockery, plush tte--ttes, French plate mantel mirrors, china cuspidors, bronze clocks,

mahogany washstands, Turkish sofas with raw silk, Jardinire stands, framed oil paintings and chromolithographs (sometimes as many as four in a room), chandeliers, bedding, and Brussels carpets. None of Fischers inventory included kitchen-group materials. Prosecutorial evidence reveals that this was a private brothel as the absentee landlord, none other than the entertainment entrepreneur and anti-vice crusader P.T. Barnum, expressed ignorance regarding the propertys illicit use (People v. Minnie Fischer 1883). Public or bawdy houses, by contrast, were open to anyone willing to pay. Little secrecy surrounded the bawdy house, especially when they attracted lines of boisterous male patrons outside their doors waiting their turn. The raucous atmosphere resembled a saloon more than a parlor house. Guidebooks, business cards, and even newspapers advertised the goods inside. Turnover was rapid with prostitutes offering little more than genital gratification. Public houses transformed coitus into a public performance for many male clients (Gilfoyle 1992:8485,164165). The cribs in Los Angeles described by Meyer and colleagues (this volume), with their sparse furnishings and emphasis on simply transacting business, were similarly organized. The archaeological evidence in these essays confirms that the divide separating parlor and bawdy houses was flexible and that certain elite parlor houses were also public places. Establishments owned by Mary Ann Hall and the Shafers offered elegant reproductions of domestic Victorian life in their parlors, while sacrificing the privacy found in other affluent brothels. Further proof is revealed by the food inventory of Halls brothel. Roughly 30% of Halls household property included food preparation and storage vessels, a rather high figure in comparison to other households with only 10 to 19%. The proliferation of expensive tableware and kitchen artifacts indicates that the brothel served meals to a large household of clients and inmates. Certain essays in this volume reflect the diverse, fluid, and sometimes unstable nature of prostitution in even elite brothels. Like the Los Angeles brothel described by Meyer et al., meal-taking was not part of the brothels commercial activity. Profits originated in volume



and turnover. Consequently, once men entered the parlor, they were encouraged to quickly complete their intended commerce. The food that was supplied was more often consumed by the women during periods of little business. Even the more decorative wares and ceramics used by visitors in the St. Paul bordello were used for appetizer-like foods, not meals (Ketz et al., this volume). Both the Fischer and Shafer brothels provided elite, expensive environments but devoted almost entirely to sexual gratification. By contrast, Clifford and Halls brothels offered clients a variety of gastronomical as well as genital satisfactions. This may be the product of the large size of Halls brothel. The 18 resident prostitutes during the 1860s are comparable to the upscale public brothels in New York and elsewhere. Generally, public brothels had large numbers of residents, sacrificing the privacy many wealthy clients sought in return for attracting a higher volume of less-affluent customers (Gilfoyle 1992:164172). The turnover may have affected the types of artifacts ultimately deposited. In New York, madams frequently provided board to their residing prostitutes. Josie Siebert testified that the madam Elizabeth Hartell provided inmates with four meals per day in her brothel at 70 Eldridge Street. Hartell also limited customers to only 15 minutes alone with each prostitute, thereby allowing each woman to entertain as many as 30 men per evening (Siebert 1895:4243). Similarly, in demarcating the boundaries between saloons and brothels, Catherine Spude demonstrates the fluidity between those venues. Spude recognizes that most Western saloons provided some sort of sexual entertainment and most brothels provided liquor for sale to their customers. The line between these two institutions was more blurred, porous, and overlapping in the West than in older, more developed cities in the East and Midwest. In New York, certain saloons were reputed as allmale preserves. The best-known, McSorleys Ale House, refused admittance to women well into the 20th century, thereby preserving a conservative, homosocial, workingmens atmosphere (Gilfoyle 1992:243245). Spude argues that women were not simply hangers-on, camp followers, and assistants to the more important work of men in mining camps. Spude consciously links her archaeo-

logical analysis with recent historical studies of the past two decades, which present more complex and sympathetic interpretations of women in the North American West. Historians such as Marion Goldman (1981), Ruth Rosen (1982), Jacqueline Baker Barnhart (1986), Anne Butler (1985), and Benson Tong (1994) on prostitution; Perry Duis (1983), Elliott Gorn (1986), and Madelon Powers (1998) on male leisure subcultures; and Patricia Limerick (1987), Vicki Ruiz et al. (1988), and Ramon Gutierrez (1991) on women and gender have provided more complicated portraits than the more sensationalized accounts of these subjects. Essays in this volume that combine archaeological evidence with public, manuscript, and published primary sources are the most convincing. The examinations of the Washington, St. Paul, and Los Angeles houses not only exploit physical artifacts but also health and estate records, building permits, assessments, tax books, police records, detective blotters, Provost Marshal records, manuscript census records, assessment records, recorded deeds, newspapers, real estate and other city directories, Sanborn and other maps, and congressional investigations. Such sources allow OBrien, for example, to show that some brothel entrepreneurs like Henry Colton owned property in different cities, reflecting the adaptable nature of the prostitution underworld. Elsewhere, Meyer et al. show that commercial sex attracted investment and capital from respectable elements of Victorian society, right up to the end of the century. Chris Buckley, a Democratic Party official from San Francisco, controlled much of the crib business in the 1890s in the Alameda Street and Plaza areas. Matthew Kellers sons-in-law (George and Frank Shafer) owned considerable property in the sex district. The Los Angeles pattern mirrored New York. Not only did contemporaries refer to certain prostitution districts in both cities as Hells Half Acre, but antivice campaigns also produced similar results. Progressive era reformers forced investors in the underground economy to either adopt new investment strategies (like the Shafers who replaced their cribs with warehouses and industrial structures) or resort to more clandestine and furtive forms of operation (like Buckley and Ballerino). The essays also present challenging, unanswered questions. Anne Ketz and colleagues and

TIMOTHY J. GILFOYLEArcheologists in the Brothel


Meyer et al. found, not surprisingly, numerous medicine bottles at the St. Paul and Los Angeles sites, respectively, a reflection of the frequency of venereal disease among 19th-century prostitutes (Haller and Haller 1974:257258; Brandt 1985: 351). This raises several questions. First, were more medicinal artifacts found at these sites than in ordinary boardinghouses or residences? Second, if venereal disease was a commonly shared problem, why is there no consistency among all the sites regarding medicinal artifacts? Similarly, Ketz et al. found few grooming artifacts or jewelry (a comb and a porcelain bead described in an earlier version of their essay). In a profession that relied heavily on cosmetic and hygiene materials, why was so little of this evidence uncovered? This inconsistency in evidence might be related to the brothel form. The data on the Washington, St. Paul, and Los Angeles houses is more convincing because these locations were brothels for extended periods of time and left detailed documented manuscript records. Consequently, Donna Seiferts examination of Ellen Starrs Washington, DC, brothel shows change over time: the material culture of prostitutes from 1860 to 1890 differed little from other working-class neighbors, while those found from 1890 to 1920 revealed considerably more affluent lifestyles than their neighbors. The Five Points evidence, by contrast, simply does not permit similar analysis over time and presents more complicated and ambiguous interpretive issues. Since prostitutes were not the only residents of these sites, and much of the prostitution was low end and often temporary, the artifacts may be unrelated to commercial sex. Does the five-month fetus, for example, represent an abortion or a miscarriage? Similarly, what artifactspipes, sewing materials, china and tablewarewere related to brothel life? Does a single indictment in 1843 provide enough evidence to generalize about all the artifacts in Feature AG? By contrast, Seifert and Balicki found that in comparing Mary Ann Halls brothel in Washington with four other archaeological sites, artifacts related to the use of tobacco were lowest in the brothel. In some cases, the authors rely on memoirs and accounts unrelated to their specific locale. Yamin employs Nell Kimballs (1970) autobiographical account of her years in St. Louis and New

Orleans to support certain claims for New York. Similarly, the imagined description of a parlor house and its operations relies extensively on accounts originating from the Storyville district in New Orleans (Meyer et al., this volume). The Alameda Street area in Los Angeles indeed shared significant similarities with Storyville. First, both were legally defined sex districts. New Orleans legalized prostitution from 1857 to 1859 and again between 1896 and 1917 (Burnham 1971a, 1971b; Rose 1974). As Meyer et al. point out, the Los Angeles city council legalized prostitution along Alameda Street during the 1870s. Second, legal prostitution gave the underground economy in both Los Angeles and New Orleans a unique position, specifically integrating commercial sex into those cities expanding entertainment and tourist industries. At the same time, the culture of New Orleans sharply departed from other North American cities, making that city less useful for comparative purposes. Storyville was a multiracial and multiethnic district with substantial African American, Euro-American, Caribbean, and Creole populations. While Los Angeles was equally multicultural, the prominence of Hispanic and Asian groups undoubtedly created a much different social milieu. Furthermore, Storyville had a musical reputation, as early jazz was nurtured in the brothels before spreading to Kansas City, Chicago, New York, and elsewhere. Storyville even generated a visual legacy. The rare photographs of prostitutes by E.J. Bellocq were part of an expanding, transatlantic, artistbohemian subculture that flourished between 1870 and 1930. Edouard Manet, Edgar Degas, and Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec in Paris; John Sloan and George Bellows in New York; and Archibald Motley in Chicago represented new and distinctive sensibilities regarding previously unexamined topics like prostitution and sexuality (Gilfoyle 1998a:588). The material artifacts discussed in these essays contribute to a fuller understanding of brothel life. Yet, that picture remains incomplete. Meyer et al. express concern regarding the paucity of artifacts in the crib privy. Indeed, privy and other physical artifact sources can only reveal a portion of the picture. In many, if not most, cases, the most valuable property was probably taken away. The Hall brothel site revealed expensive tableware artifacts but few



knives, forks, or spoons. It is doubtful residents and clients ate with their hands. Similarly, Yamin asks if Five Points prostitutes were wealthy, free, and female like those who resided in the citys elite brothels farther uptown. Was prostitution just a job, no more degrading than any other, and considerably better paid? Five Points prostitutes have generally been seen as the poorest women engaged in commercial sexual activity. Yamin, however, offers a new and important corrective. Artifacts found at 12 Orange Street included fancy ceramics, elegant glassware, and luxurious tableware, suggesting that residents enjoyed a lifestyle that was considerably more comfortable than that of other residents in the neighborhood. While acknowledging that prostitutes in 12 Orange Street probably originated from working-class backgrounds, they attempted to recruit a more lucrative middle-class clientele by providing household amenities expected by such men. The brothel at 12 Orange Street did not conform to the image of an impoverished dive assumed to characterize the sex industry at Five Points. More significantly, Yamin argues that the archaeological evidence from Block 160 presents an intriguing and complex portrait of Five Points prostitutes. On one hand, prostitutes had working-class origins and followed modest lifestyles. Yet, to attract more affluent customers, they presented themselves as middle class by offering better food and wearing fancy clothes. While such luxuries were available only when they were working, they nevertheless enjoyed the opportunity to act middle class. They lived dual lives, argues Yamin, coming from one thing and portraying another. Such duality typified the lives of not only 19th-century prostitutes. Transatlantic, Victorian society, after all, produced Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Historians of prostitution, nevertheless, remain divided over how to interpret such duality. For example, a sometimes-fierce debate divides feminists on whether prostitutes are ordinary wage laborers seeking better wages, treatment, and working conditions, or petty entrepreneurs whose work benefits a minority at the expense of degrading a larger body of women (Coffin 1982:89101; Corbin 1990:444; Shrage 1994). Other feminist historians are torn over the issues of structuralism and individual agency.

Were prostitutes entirely victims of male violence, social control, or state suppression (and thus little able to control their destiny)? Or did such women retain a degree of personal agency in their everyday life that neutralized the impact of these larger (and seemingly uncontrollable) structural forces? Historians like Christine Stansell (1986), Ruth Rosen (1982), John DEmilio and Estelle Freedman (1988), and Marilynn Wood Hill (1993) argue that 19th-century prostitutes enjoyed considerable autonomy in their lives and labors, comparable even to artisans. Only with greater police harassment after 1890 did pimps and male dominance of commercial sex appear (Rosen 1982:33,40; Stansell 1986:171; DEmilio and Freedman 1988:136; Hill 1993:392). By contrast, considerable evidence reveals that by mid-19th century a visible, well-established system of pimps existed in New York (Gilfoyle 1992:89, 1999:132133). Numerous sources used the term pimp in their discussions of prostitution and politics (Horowitz 2002:187,188). A careful examination of the social and organizational structure of antebellum and postbellum New York City prostitution revealed the existence of pimps and considerable male control of the business of prostitution (Buchanan 1848:45; Browne 1869: 69,433; Ellington 1869:202203). The greatest weakness the essays share is the voices heard in these manuscripts and artifacts. Who is speaking, recording, or describing the activity? Usually it is investigators, judges, journalists, police and law enforcement officials. Surprisingly, only infrequently do these sources provide the testimony of prostitutes. Consequently, we rarely learn what specifically motivated women to engage in prostitution. Evidence points to economic factors, family problems, even personal desires. Seldom do prostitutes tell their sides of the story. The few autobiographies of prostitutes, most of which do not appear until the 20th century, are of questionable value. These are usually by prosperous madams, hardly representative of the common or occasional prostitutes experience. Some authors romanticize the entire practice of prostitution. Many accounts were probably edited to remove controversial and unsavory subjects. And most were published for profit, not to reveal truth (Adler 1953; Kimball 1970; Hollander 1972; Rosen and Davidson 1977; Barrows 1985).

TIMOTHY J. GILFOYLEArcheologists in the Brothel


Archaeological evidence presents equally confusing problems. Thomas Crist offers detailed analysis of the skeletal remains of two immature infants and a fetus. Cranial and long bone evidence suggests that two of the remains were full-term individuals at the time of their death. Yet, he admits, determination of those remains as stillbirths, cases of infant abandonment, or infanticide is impossible. While the site at 12 Orange Street was occupied by prostitutes at various points in the 19th century, the circumstances surrounding how the remains ended up in the privy are impossible to determine. But such problems plague virtually all studies of subaltern groups. More importantly, these essays speak to the value of archaeological evidence in re-creating the material culture of prostitution. Each link the brothel experience to larger neighborhood and social trends. The study of Mary Ann Halls brothel represents an ongoing examination of the 19th-century neighborhood known as Hookers Division. Yamin and Crist explore the brothels of Five Points within the context of that communitys transient mix of prostitutes, immigrants, and working poor. Finally, this corpus of archaeological analysis rescues prostitution from the literature of deviancy and crime. Prostitutes are not considered fallen women but, rather, females who made rational and sometimes desperate choices when confronted with limited possibilities. In these essays, there is no sin in sin city. We now know more not only about the prostitutes themselves (something painfully lacking in the American literature before 1980) but also about the culture and material conditions in which they lived and worked. Revisionist histories of prostitution have even influenced the standard narratives on American and womens history. Whereas earlier studies, like the societies they examined, marginalized prostitutes, recent historiography has integrated them into the larger historical narrative (Gilfoyle 1999:120). Archaeology is now doing the same. REFERENCES
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1988 Intimate Matters: A History of Sexuality in America. Harper and Row, New York, NY. 1983 The Saloon: Public Drinking in Chicago and Boston, 18801920. University of Illinois Press, Urbana. 1869 The Women of New York; or the Under-World of the Great City. New York Book Co., New York, NY. 1997 As a Tourist Lure, the Leer of a Naughty Museum. New York Times, 17 November:A4. New York, NY. 1964 The Madams of San Francisco. Doubleday, New York, NY. 1992 City of Eros: New York City, Prostitution, and the Commercialization of Sex, 17901920. W. W. Norton, New York, NY. 1998a Prostitution. In American Cities and Suburbs: An Encyclopedia, Neil Larry Shumsky, editor, pp. 587589. ABC-Clio Publishers, Santa Barbara, CA. 1998b White Cities, Linguistic Turns, and Disneylands: Recent Paradigms in Urban History. Reviews in American History, 26(1):175204. 1999 Prostitutes in History: From Parables of Pornography to Metaphors of Modernity. American Historical Review, 104(1):117141. 1981 Gold Diggers and Silver Miners: Prostitution and Social Life on the Comstock Lode. University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. 1986 The Manly Art: Bare-Knuckle Prize Fighting in America. Cornell University Press, Ithaca, NY. 1991 When Jesus Came, the Corn Mothers Went Away: Marriage, Sexuality, and Power in New Mexico, 15001846. Stanford University Press, Stanford, CA. 1991 Sex and Danger in Buenos Aires: Prostitution, Family, and Nation in Argentina. University of Nebraska Press, Lincoln. 1974 The Physician and Sexuality in Victorian America. University of Illinois Press, Urbana. 1985 Policing Prostitution in Nineteenth-Century Paris. Princeton University Press, Princeton, NJ. 1962 Prostitution and Society . Citadel Press, New York, NY.



1997 Dangerous Pleasures: Prostitution and Modernity in Twentieth-Century Shanghai. University of California Press, Berkeley. 1993 Their Sisters Keepers: Prostitution in New York City, 18301870. University of California Press, Berkeley. 1972 The Happy Hooker. Dell, New York, NY. 2002 Rereading Sex: Battles over Sexual Knowledge and Suppression in Nineteenth-Century America. Alfred Knopf, New York, NY. 1970 Nell Kimball: Her Life as an American Madam, Stephen Longstreet, editor. Macmillan, New York, NY. 1987 The Legacy of Conquest: The Unbroken Past of the American West. W.W. Norton, New York, NY. 1881 New York by Sunlight and Gaslight. Hubbard Brothers, Philadelphia, PA. 1883 New York City District Attorney Indictment Papers, 10 May 1883. Unprocessed Collection, Supreme Court Cases, Box 9903, New York City Municipal Archives and Records Center, New York. 1998 Faces along the Bar: Lore and Order in the Workingmans Saloon, 18701920. University of Chicago Press, Chicago. 1964 Tarnished Angels: Paradisiacal Turpitude in Los Angeles Revealed. Ward Ritchie Press, Los Angeles, CA. 1974 Storyville, New Orleans, Being an Authentic Illustrated Account of the Notorious Red-Light District. University of Alabama Press, Tuscaloosa. 1982 The Lost Sisterhood: Prostitution in America, 19001918. Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore, MD. 1977 The Maimie Papers. Bloomington. Indiana University Press,

























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1858 The History of Prostitution. Harper, New York, NY. 1994 Moral Dilemmas of Feminism: Prostitution, Adultery, and Abortion. Routledge, New York, NY. 1895 Testimony of Josie Siebert. In People v. Elizabeth Hartell, New York City District Attorney Indictment Papers, 22 April 1895. Unprocessed Collection, Supreme Court Cases, Box 10100, Location 106231, New York City Municipal Archives and Records Center, NY. 1868 Sunshine and Shadow in New York. J.B. Burr, Hartford, CT. 1990 Regulating Vice: Prostitution and the St. Louis Social Evil Ordinance, 18701874. Gateway Heritage, 11: 2047. 1986 City of Women: Sex and Class in New York, 17891860. Alfred Knopf, New York, NY. 1981 The Immoral Landscape: Female Prostitution in Western Societies. Butterworths, Toronto, Canada.


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