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01-Jun-2017 03:38

Many of these women continued to ply their trade in New Orleans.In, Judith Kelleher Schafer examines case histories from the First District Court of New Orleans and tells the engrossing story of prostitution in the city prior to the Civil War.

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The courts, in turn, often treated these "public women" leniently, exacting small fines or sending them to the city's workhouse for a few months.

Schafer's rich analysis fills this gap and offers insight into an intriguing period in the history of the "oldest profession" in the Crescent City.

Judith Kelleher Schafer is the author of several books, including Slavery, the Civil Law, and the Supreme Court of Louisiana and Becoming Free, Remaining Free: Manumission and Enslavement in New Orleans, 1846-1862. “With this fascinating book, award-winning Tulane University legal historian Judith Kelleher Schafer offers much insight into a previously little known chapter of New Orleans history.

Some watched as gangs of rowdy men smashed their furniture; some endured beatings by their customers or other public women enraged by fits of jealousy; others were murdered.

Schafer discusses the sexual exploitation of children, sex across the color line, violence among and against public women, and the city's feeble attempts to suppress the trade.When a priest suggested to one of the first governors of Louisiana that he banish all disreputable women to raise the colony's moral tone, the governor responded, "If I send away all the loose females, there will be no women left here at all." Primitive, mosquito infested, and disease ridden, early French colonial New Orleans offered few attractions to entice respectable women as residents.