American West •  History and Women

$24.95 paperback
978-0-8263-3343-8

Add to Cart

Brothels, Bordellos, and Bad Girls: Prostitution in Colorado, 1860-1930


Jan MacKell

Prostitution thrived in pioneer Colorado. Mining was the principal occupation and men outnumbered women more than twenty to one. Jan MacKell provides a detailed overview of the business between 1860 and 1930, focusing her research on the mining towns of Cripple Creek, Salida, Colorado City, and similar boomtown communities. She used census data, Sanborn maps, city directories, property records, marriage records, and court records to document and trace the movements of the women over the course of their careers, uncovering work histories, medical problems, and numerous relocations from town to town. She traces many to their graves, through years filled with abuse, disease, narcotics, and violence.
;
MacKell has unearthed numerous colorful and often touching stories, like that of the boy raised in a brothel who was invited to play with a neighbor's children and replied, "No, my mother is a whore and says I am to stay at home."
;
"Delicacy, humor, respect, and compassion are among the merits of this book. Although other authors have flirted with Colorado's commercial sex, Jan MacKell provides a detailed overview. She has been researching these elusive women for the last fifteen years. Such persistence allows her to offer rich detail on shady ladies who rarely used their real names or even stuck with the same professional name for long." - Thomas J. Noel, from the Introduction


ABOUT THE CONTRIBUTORS

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

Thomas J. Noel is a former chair of the Denver Landmark Preservation Commission and current National Register reviewer for Colorado. Nicknamed "Dr. Colorado," Noel is a professor of history at the University of Colorado, Denver, and author of Riding High: Colorado Ranchers and 100 Years of the National Western Stock Show.

ACCLAIM

". . . a godsend for screenwriters and novelists looking for plots. . . MacKell has been an industrious researcher."

--

The Durango Herald



"MacKell has unearthed numerous colorful and often touching stories."

--

Salida Book Review, Colorado



"Delicacy, humor, respect and compassion are among the merits of MacKell's treatment of this touchy subject. Her 15 years of research unearthed revealing details."

--

Rocky Mountain News



"The topic is interesting--or should one say, "titillating"--the author knowledgeable; the presentation non-judgmental and the work, scholarly with end notes, a bibliography and index. . . well-written."

--

The Cortez Journal, CO



"This is serious social history at its best; MacKell combines skilled use of carefully collected data with an engrossing analysis of the many forces in play when women choose a way of life that seldom ends in true reward or real independence."

--

ForeWord Magaine



". . . a real contribution to Colorado history."

--

Denver Post



"Now this is a book you can read in one sitting. Not that it is less than scholarly; it is comprehensive, extensively researched, well organized, well written, but most of all it is readable. In fact, it is compelling. . . . Brothels, Bordellos, & Bad Girls is a fascinating book because it puts a human face on prostitution."

--

Roundup Magazine



"Neither romanticizing nor ridiculing these women, MacKell recounts both their tragedies and occasional happy endings. While detailing the realities of the business, she also creates vivid portraits of some participants."

--

Reference & Research Book News



"The depth of MacKell's research brings the stories of scores of individual women to life. . . . Recommended."

--

CHOICE Magazine



" Brothels, Bordellos, & Bad Girls is an extensively researched local history, balancing both primary and secondary sources with intriguing references to interviews with (and respect for the privacy of) living descendents. . . . MacKell gives a well-deserved human face to these hard-working western pioneers who, in their time, were ignored as human beings and seen only as whores."

--

The Historian



"...(a) well-written, engaging volume..."

--

H-Net Reviews



" Brothels, Bordellos, & Bad Girls tells a rarely told tale, of the "tainted" women who helped settle the west."

--

Canon City Daily Camera, CO



" Brothels, Bordellos, and Bad Girls is an interesting piece of Colorado's popular history and enhances our understanding of some of the social relations that formed within the state's numerous mining communities."

--

History: Reviews of New Books



"Delicacy, humor, respect, and compassion are among the merits of this book. Although other authors have flirted with Colorado's commercial sex, Jan MacKell provides a detailed overview. She has been researching these elusive women for the last fifteen years. Such persistence allows her to offer rich detail on shady ladies..."

--

Thomas J. Noel, "Dr. Colorado"



"The topic is interesting, the author knowledgeable, the presentation nonjudgmental...All sorts of interesting facts pop up in this work."

--

USA Today Magazine




6 x 9 in. 328 pages 51 halftones