Title

Prostitution and the Sex Industry on the Barbary Coast, 1849-1900

Lead Author Major

History

Lead Author Status

Senior

Format

Oral Presentation

Faculty Mentor Name

Laura Gutierrez

Faculty Mentor Email

lgutierrez2@pacific.edu

Faculty Mentor Department

History

Abstract/Artist Statement

The scandalous and sexualized lives of those who worked in and benefitted from the sex industry in the early years of the gold rush are rarely written about and often neglected parts of the historiography surrounding the period. However, the ethnically diverse women who partook in the industry occupied a unique and important place in society that was ultimately tolerated due to the relaxed social norms of the times, allowing for a sexualized society. The gender disparity that occurred as a result of the immigration to the golden coast made women by virtue of their sex a scarcity, therefore allowing for women to partake in, and develop, a bustling sex industry. The industry its self even serves as a microcosm for greater gold rush society’s urban and social development, especially in terms of growing racial tensions. As a result, prostitutes and those who worked in the sex industry proved to be an integral part of San Francisco’s seemingly sordid beginnings and the social and culturally development of the city.

This scholarship not only unitizes a plethora of secondary sources, but also employs numerous primary accounts from both men and women and those who were involved in the sex industry and prostitution during this time. Such sources have helped to uncover what has been a somewhat forgotten and overlooked perspective and narrative surrounding Gold Rush life and the beginnings of California society, and has ultimately helped further and explore the study of women on the frontier and female proprietorship in the west.

Location

DeRosa University Center, Room 211

Start Date

28-4-2018 1:00 PM

End Date

28-4-2018 1:20 PM

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Apr 28th, 1:00 PM Apr 28th, 1:20 PM

Prostitution and the Sex Industry on the Barbary Coast, 1849-1900

DeRosa University Center, Room 211

The scandalous and sexualized lives of those who worked in and benefitted from the sex industry in the early years of the gold rush are rarely written about and often neglected parts of the historiography surrounding the period. However, the ethnically diverse women who partook in the industry occupied a unique and important place in society that was ultimately tolerated due to the relaxed social norms of the times, allowing for a sexualized society. The gender disparity that occurred as a result of the immigration to the golden coast made women by virtue of their sex a scarcity, therefore allowing for women to partake in, and develop, a bustling sex industry. The industry its self even serves as a microcosm for greater gold rush society’s urban and social development, especially in terms of growing racial tensions. As a result, prostitutes and those who worked in the sex industry proved to be an integral part of San Francisco’s seemingly sordid beginnings and the social and culturally development of the city.

This scholarship not only unitizes a plethora of secondary sources, but also employs numerous primary accounts from both men and women and those who were involved in the sex industry and prostitution during this time. Such sources have helped to uncover what has been a somewhat forgotten and overlooked perspective and narrative surrounding Gold Rush life and the beginnings of California society, and has ultimately helped further and explore the study of women on the frontier and female proprietorship in the west.