Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Fast & Loose Women of New Orleans

From The Times-Picayune:
Tulane University history professor Judith Kelleher Schafer loves uncovering the truth, whether it be pleasant or not.

"I need history to tell me what to write," she said. "I couldn't make up this stuff. The truth is so wonderful."

Schafer's third book came about by happy accident. While researching archives of the First District Court of New Orleans and the Daily Picayune from 1846-1862 for her award-winning book, "Becoming Free, Remaining Free: Manumission and Enslavement in New Orleans, 1846-1862," she kept noticing all these charges for "keeping a brothel."

"And 99 percent of them were dropped before they went to trial," she said.

Some of these women are larger than life -- and they have the fabulous street names to show for it -- names like "Gallows Liz," "English Kate" and, hilariously, "Judy Come Home with the Soap." Redhead Delia Swift, also known as Bridget Fury, joined forces with Mary "Bricktop" Jackson in what Schafer calls "one of the first female street gangs in the United States."

These "fast females" lived violent, public lives.

No comments: