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The Tattooed Lady: A History Hardcover – November 1, 2009

4.9 out of 5 stars 13 customer reviews

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Textbook Amy Krouse Rosenthal
Textbook Amy Krouse Rosenthal
The bestselling author of "Encyclopedia an Ordinary Life" returns with a literary experience that is unprecedented, unforgettable, and explosively human. Hardcover | Kindle book
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Editorial Reviews

Review

“While a lady with a tattoo is not a big deal today, Amelia Klem Osterud's new book is a look at women who became sensations through their tattoos. Osterud, a librarian, surveys ancient tattooing practices before launching into her 19th- and 20th-century subjects, many of them performers for circuses and sideshows. Readers will learn, for example, about Lady Viola, billed as 'The Most Beautiful Tattooed Lady in the World,' who had images of six presidents tattooed on her chest, as well as Babe Ruth and Ginger Rogers.”Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

About the Author

Amelia Klem Osterud is a tattooed academic librarian from Wisconsin. She has a Masters in history from University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and writes and lectures on the subject. This is her first book.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 160 pages
  • Publisher: Speck Press (November 1, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1933108266
  • ISBN-13: 978-1933108261
  • Product Dimensions: 8 x 0.8 x 10 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,244,903 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By James Denny on June 2, 2010
Format: Hardcover
"The Tattooed Lady: A History" by first-time author Amelia Klem Ostrud is not my usual fare. But as "HistoryGuy1," I could not overlook this coffee-table book when I came across it at my local library.

Indeed, this is history, good history, a "peoples history" with solid documentation, a work not to be overlooked.

With many great photos, Osterud delivers a compelling narrative to describe the history of "tattooed ladies." Full-body-canvas tattooed ladies first appeared in the third quarter of the 19th century. They most often began as circus performers with outfits like Barnum and Bailey, the Ringling Brothers and other traveling circus shows. These early tattooed ladies "boldy went where none had gone before" in becoming a full body canvas for the curious to gaze upon.

In the era of sideshow "freaks," the tattooed lady took her place on the platform with giants, midgets, "the fat lady," "the thin man," "the bearded lady" and other freaks of nature. The "show" provided by the tattooed lady was to allow herself to be looked upon. A tattooed lady would exhibit parts of her body not normally seen by any man or any woman in public.

The artwork on the early tattooed ladies tended to mimic the artwork of tattooed men, sailor art in particular. Osterud points out that as the tattooed lady moved into the twentieth century she tended to choose artwork with a more feminine and distinctive touch, diverging from the artwork chosen by men.

Osterud provides background and insight into the mythology surrounding the tattooed ladies who "had gone the distance with body art." In direct contradiction of the myth, these famous tattooed ladies willingly and consciously chose to become tattooed ladies, defying the social mores of the era.
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The author offers a well-rounded history of women in western tattoo culture. (Please note that this book does not include tattooed women in other cultures.) This book is unique because it was the first of its kind. Most authors either completely exclude women or give them little attention in their publications about tattoos. Often, authors won’t even bother to identify the name of a photo of a tattooed woman who they include in their work – even if she is well known! The author’s writing style is clear and interesting so this is easy to read. It is not a dense book full of jargon, so it is accessible to readers with little knowledge of the topic.
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Format: Hardcover
Tattoos have always held intrigue for me (working in #8 this month!) and I was delighted to stumble across this gem, Academic librarian, Amelia Klem Osterud, pieces together a largely forgotten/overlooked past female tattoed performers and accompanies the text with beautiful photographs and illustrations.

Amelia does an excellent job describing the early tattooed beauties and their influence on women's rights, tattoos, and stereotypes in America's past and current culture. This collection is truly amazing and I enjoyed learning about some of the reasons why women covered themselves in ink and joined the circus and fled the "norm" female lifestyle. Many times it was for survival, being a tattooed woman allowed for a freer lifestyle and a relatively good income. Learning about the style and technique of tattooing was also quite fascinating (thankfully this has changed drastically).

The first generation of tattooed ladies (Nora Hildebrandt, Irene Woodward, Annie Howard - 1880's) and the second generation (Betty Broadbent, Lady Viola - 1920's) helped pave the way in how people see and understand tattoos and inspired women to rise above their status and lived in relative freedom compared to their female counterparts of the day. The author summed it up well, "These tattoed ladies made a literal mark on future generations of women, and that mark is a reminder that difference is beautiful."
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This bookis an absolute for any tattoo perveyer!
The background indepth knowledge of tattood womans begginnings.

heaps of old photos with eesntal information that shows woman at their best.highly reccomended 5 star great book worth getting , i highly reccomend
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By far the BEST tattoo book around. I gave this to my sister who loves and appreciates tattoos as a form of body art and expression. She absolutely loves it.
She said it is a great read, and amazing photos.
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An excellent book, probably the best on the subject. As a scholar I would have preferred more detailed in-text citations, but most readers probably won't mind about that. Written by a librarian, it should come as no surprise that the archival materials are very well represented, but the author also draws usefully on her own original interviews with contemporary burlesque performers. Highly recommended for those with interests in American popular culture and performance, the history of tattooing and social movements, and gendered performance.
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I am heavily tattooed and wanted more information about those who came before me. This book gives so much information and conveys the emotions and feelings of the ladies profiled. It gives a beautiful history and context of tattooed performers in the world of circuses and sideshows. It is just one beautiful book in many ways!
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