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Prostitution in Minnesota: Overview

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Minneapolis Madams: The Lost History of Prostitution on the Riverfront, by Penny A. Peteson. 
Minneapolis : University of Minnesota Press, 2013.
MNHS call number: HQ146.M5 P48 2013

"Long Kate, Dutch Henriette, and Mother Robinson: Three Madams in Post-Civil War St. Paul," by Joel E. Best.
In Ramsey County History, vol. 15, no. 1 [2] (1980): pp. 3-10.
MNHS call number: Reading Room F612.R22 R3 v.15:2

Nina Clifford Biography File.
Clifford was a notorious St. Paul madam.
MNHS call number: Biography Project Cards, and Vertical File.

Carolen Bailey Papers
Bailey was a St. Paul Police officer and her archival collection includes correspondence, minutes, training materials, speeches, a scrapbook, newsletters, audiocassettes, and photographs. Subjects include child abuse, sexual abuse, battered women, incest, prostitution, sudden infant death, and police volunteers.
MNHS call number: Digital finding aid


Throughout recorded history, prostitution — the buying and selling of sexual services and favors — has been a part of the human condition. Evidence of it is found in mythology, art, sculpture, drama, literature, music, and archaeological structures and ruins. Societies in different parts of the world and in different eras have dealt with it in diverse ways across a broad spectrum, with its acceptance as a norm at one extreme, to its criminalization at the other. Between the two extremes, it has been regarded, variously, as "a necessary evil," a blight on the community, the immoral dregs of a society.

Primarily, women have been associated with prostitution, although in some cultures, boys and men have been used. In the past quarter century, Minnesota has seen a rise in the number of young girls and boys, often homeless children, many of them runaways or throwaways, forced into prostitution. The victims of sexual and physical abuse — rather than their abusers or patrons — have been penalized by social stigma, fines, or jail time.

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