Thursday, September 1, 2011

Female Companionship 1880s - 1890s

As in most mining camps, Juneau and Douglas had its "girls" who "provided relaxation and companionship" for the male population, whether they were miners or businessmen.

Booming Alaska mining towns, such as Nome and Fairbanks, had their stockades to confine the girls and their cribs to a specific area. Ketchikan designated Creek Street as the red light district. But in early Juneau there was no street of sin. Most prostitutes worked the saloons on Front Street. It was in later years, especially after 1912, when the Alaska Juneau mill was under construction and in the years it operated, that most of the prostitutes congregated on South Franklin Street. Over in Douglas, most of the fallen doves operated in dwellings clustered along the beach in that part of town. Many frequented the dance halls and saloons in town.

Juneau and Douglas apparently tolerated this profession. I found only one criminal case in Alaska from 1884 to after 1900 in which prostitution was the sole crime. It was filed against Joseph Gregory of Sitka who was charged in 1892 with "setting up a house of ill fame for purposes of prostitution." But except for the necessary papers to bring the charge before the court, the case file is empty. Why wasn't Gregory fined or jailed? Others were not so lucky when liquor was involved.

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