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Red Light Women of the Rocky Mountains Hardcover – March 16, 2009

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Frequently Bought Together

Red Light Women of the Rocky Mountains + Upstairs Girls: Prostitution in the American West + Soiled Doves: Prostitution in the Early West (Women of the West)
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Editorial Reviews

From the Inside Flap

These profiles of the soiled doves who plied the oldest trade in the Rocky Mountains explain many of the facts of life in the nineteenth and twentieth century West.

About the Author

Jan MacKell resides in Victor, Colorado, and is director of the Cripple Creek District Museum in nearby Cripple Creek. MacKell is also the author of Cripple Creek District: Last of Colorado's Gold Booms
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 480 pages
  • Publisher: University of New Mexico Press (March 16, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0826346103
  • ISBN-13: 978-0826346100
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.3 x 1.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,398,359 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Profjay (Jay Moynahan) on April 26, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Jan MacKell has done it again; she has written a fine book on old west prostitution. Her first book, BROTHELS, BORDELLOS, & BAD GIRLS: PROSTITUTION IN COLORADO 1860-1930 was an outstanding addition to American pioneer prostitute literature.
She has expanded her horizons with this new book and focuses on the profession of prostitution as it operated in the states of Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, New Mexico, Utah, and Wyoming. MacKell addresses the profession of prostitution, prostitutes and madams, and the societal reaction to prostitution.
The author's writing style is smooth and comfortable. The material she presents is well-documented and she provides numerous endnotes. It is clear that she has spent years gathering information through extensive travel and research. This is a big plus for researchers such as myself.
The text is liberally illustrated with photographs, some which have never been published. She uses many primary sources to introduce the reader to numerous prostitutes and madams. Many of these women have not been discussed in contemporary prostitute literature. This book is not a rehash of other books; rather, MacKell presents new information on an old topic.
This text will serve well as a basic reference book. It will hopefully make its way into libraries across the United States. This book will provide material for those writing articles, books, theses, and dissertations.
Although well-documented, the book is no dry academic publication. MacKell is a good storyteller with rich information. She brings the ladies to life and explains the conditions in which they worked, telling their stories in a very readable fashion. This book will appeal to those who wish to know what prostitution was like back then.
RED LIGHT WOMEN OF THE ROCKY MOUNTAINS is a must read for anyone interested in pioneer prostitution on the American frontier.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Henry Berry on April 21, 2009
Format: Hardcover
This is a sound history on the presence of prostitutes in the Rocky Mountain region in the latter 1800s and into the first couple of decades of the 1900s. No racy photographs or snide comments. During this time, the area was mostly in the early stages of its development. Areas of it were still territories, not yet states. Yet the areas were settled enough and populated enough to support the prostitutes' trade. One vein of MacKell's history is the changing attitudes toward and position of prostitutes as the area became more developed and new waves of populations moved in. At different times, prostitutes could have an important economic role in a community, exert political influence, and in ways not acknowledged or much studied contribute to the growth and stability of location.

The book is in a popular style with an academic underpinning of extensive research well-documented in over 60 pages of notes. MacKell focuses attention of the presence, activities, and effects of prostitutes in the several territories/states of the region in chapters with witty titles such as Amazons of Arizona, Illicit Ladies of Idaho, Nubians of New Mexico, and The Undoing of Utah's Soiled Doves. One learns a good deal about prostitutes in the western states in this era of their early development. With economical biographies of many madams running establishments and of particular prostitutes, including true-crime like stories of some, the history is as colorful as any about the Old West. Wyatt Earp consorted with a prostitute for a while, and there were ones involved in murders, robberies, and other crimes. The changing acceptance, views, visibility, influence, etc.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on May 29, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This perspective on prostitution in the west is fascinating. Thoroughly researched and well documented,this view of the "shady ladies" is both sad and humorous. One minute a lump is in your throat and the next minute you are guffawing! These women are often overlooked in the annals of western history.

As curator of the Cripple Creek Museums in Colorado, Jan MacKell lives amidst the stories and few remnants of these women. It seems as though she lived "back in the day" of the mining boomtowns. She has traveled throughout the west to gain an understanding of these prostitutes as the characters and people they were.

While learning about the men of the west and their occupations, one doesn't need to look far in finding a plethora of information. Women's studies of the west, especially of the "red light" occupation, are much more difficult to find. I appreciate all of the research the author has done to put so much information in one book.

Many of these women did not knowingly choose this profession. If their husbands had died or abandoned them, they had few choices of female "appropriate" occupations. Cooking and laundry (when work was available) did not bring in much money to support them, especially if they had children. Some of them were sold by their parents to sex slave traders. Many prostitutes were deceived by unscrupulous money grubbers.

Through generous donations, these women left a legacy of schools, hospitals, and churches. They donated coats to children and unfortunate miners. Many are not aware that they nursed people through epidemics when "respectable women" would not go near. Recognition of these women is
long overdue.
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