Skip to main content

Prostitution collection

Identifier: SSC-MS-00425

Scope and Contents

The Prostitution Collection consists almost entirely of printed materials such as newspaper clippings, articles, and pamphlets dating from 1834 to 1984. Most of the material pertains to the United States and England, though a few items focus on Asia, Africa, and the Middle East. The nineteenth century material in this collection is limited, including the first annual report of the Female Benevolent Society of New York (1834); pamphlets on the "The Legislation of Female Slavery in England" by Annie Besant (1876) and "The Social Evil in Philadelphia" by Reverend Frank Goodchild (1896). Also included are two books on trafficking of young girls written in 1899 and 1910. The bulk of the collection dates from 1900 to 1978 and includes articles, handbills, newspaper clippings, pamphlets, reports, speeches, trial transcripts, a Smith College course syllabus and unpublished paper, and an audiotape of The Dick Cavett Show on the legalization of prostitution (1972). This material documents the changing relationships among prostitutes, the police, social and legal reformers, and the public over the course of this period. The impacts of the sexual revolution and the women's movement on attitudes about prostitution is particularly well-documented by the large number of newspaper clippings and articles from the 1960s and 1970s contained in the collection. This material sheds light on the lives and experiences of prostitutes.

Dates of Materials

  • 1834-1984

Language of Materials


Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open for research use without restriction beyond the standard terms and conditions of Smith College Special Collections.

Conditions Governing Use

Materials in this collection may be governed by copyright. For reproductions of materials that are governed by fair use as defined under U. S. Copyright Law, no permission to cite or publish is required. Researchers are responsible for determining who may hold materials' copyrights and obtaining approval from them. Researchers do not need anything further from Smith College Special Collections to move forward with their use.


0.875 linear feet (2 containers)


Collection consists almost entirely of printed materials, also includes handbills, reports, speeches, trial transcripts, a Smith College course syllabus and unpublished paper, and an audiotape of The Dick Cavett Show on the legalization of prostitution. Focus on the United States and England, some items on Asia, Africa, and the Middle East.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Materials in this subject collection were either purchased or given to the Sophia Smith Collection by various donors.

Additional Formats

This collection includes an audiotape.

Related Materials

The Periodicals Collection includes several issues of Coyote Howls, "dedicated to exposing and eliminating current laws against prostitution."

Processing Information

Finding aid revised in 2002 by Katie Kowinski, student assistant. Introductory text by Kate Weigand. Updated 2006 and 2015.

Prostitution collection
Finding Aid
Finding aid prepared by mnsss.
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Encoding funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

Revision Statements

  • 07/26/2017: This resource was modified by the ArchivesSpace Preprocessor developed by the Harvard Library (
  • 2005-09-23: mnsss108 converted from EAD 1.0 to 2002 by v1to02-5c.xsl (sy2003-10-15).
  • 2017-07-26T17:48:10-04:00: This record was migrated from InMagic DB Textworks to ArchivesSpace.

Repository Details

Part of the Sophia Smith Collection of Women's History Repository

Neilson Library
7 Neilson Drive
Northampton MA 01063