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Bawdy Trade in New Orleans, 1840s-1950s: Home

Guide presents a bibliography, recommended reading and research resources, and instructions for using three Google Earth maps (.kmz files) containing images, links, and annotations of locations related to prostitution in New Orleans, 1840s-1950s

Access the Maps

To download the .kmz map files and view them using Google Earth Pro (freely downloadable), click on the Instructions tab.

Additional Digital Resources


The following books provided the bulk of the information contained in each map's annotated pins. References to newspaper articles are given in the text of the annotations (including newspaper name and pub date). In the rare instances where an online source is used only once to provide supporting information, the annotation provides a hyperlink to that source.

  • Krist, Gary. Empire of Sin: A Story of Sex, Jazz, Murder, and the Battle for Modern New Orleans. New York: Broadway Books, 2014.
  • Landau, Emily Epstein. Spectacular Wickedness: Sex, Race, and Memory in Storyville, New Orleans. Baton Rouge: LSU Press, 2013.
  • Long, Alecia. The Great Southern Babylon: Sex, Race, and Respectability in New Orleans, 1865-1920. Baton Rouge: LSU Press, 2004.
  • Schafer, Judith Kelleher. Brothels, Depravity, and Abandoned Women: Illegal Sex in Antebellum New Orleans. Baton Rouge: LSU Press, 2009.
  • Rose, Al. Storyville, New Orleans: Being an Authentic, Illustrated Account of the Notorious Red-Light District. Tuscaloosa: U Alabama Press, 1974
  • Wiltz, Christine. The Last Madam: A Life in the New Orleans Underworld. New York, Faber and Faber, 2000.

Relevant Primary Sources

Newspapers in English (not an exhaustive list): The Bee, The Mascot (weekly), New Orleans Daily Item, New Orleans Times Democrat, New Orleans Times-Picayune (previously New Orleans Daily Picayune), The Sunday Sun (weekly). Check Chronicling America (at the Library of Congress) or the Google Newspapers archive for access to some scanned historical newspapers. 

Court Transcripts and Other Official Documentation (not digitized):

  • 1st and 2nd Districts of Orleans Parish Civil Court and Orleans Parish Criminal Court
  • Louisiana Supreme Supreme Court
  • New Orleans Notarial Archives (especially for successions and real estate transactions)
  • New Orleans Police Department Homicide and Arrest Reports (some accessible in N.O. Public Library's City Archives)

Digitized Criminal Justice Records

  • NOPD Bertillon Card Collection (via N.O. Public Library's City Archives Digital Collections, contains cards from the late 1890s-1925) -- Bertillon cards were introduced in Paris in 1879 as a standardized way to identify prisoners and to catalog and organize records of their arrests. The system is named for its inventor, who sought to systematize criminal justice bureaucracy. 
  • NOPD Mugshot Collection (also via N.O. Public Library's City Archives Digital Collections; contains mugshots from the late 1890s-1925)

Other Sources


Systems & Information Resources Librarian

Useful Search Terms

Contemporary terms associated with prostitution may not be as useful in turning up searches in newspapers. Though police records frequently use the term "prostitute" rather than any of several euphemisms, journalists were allowed a bit more creative license in their reporting and often created a veneer of decency in their prose by avoiding unambiguous language to describe places, people, and events. 

abandoned (in spirit rather than in fact)

amalgamation (sex across the color line)

assignation house

bad repute/ill repute

bawdy house




disorderly house


frail (refers to frail morality, not physique)


landlady (many madams opted for this more respectable designation)

larceny (prostitutes were often arrested not for soliciting but for theft)


nymph (synonym for prostitute)


procurement/procurer (not the same as a madam or pimp; more like a broker)

public woman




vagrant (prostitutes were sometimes called vagrants when not operating out of a house)