- 6 x 9.
- photographs, maps.
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In 1859 high grade silver bullion was discovered on the Comstock Lode. In a twinkling, Virginia City was transformed into a brawling boom town perched on a mountain of silver. Twenty years later it virtually disappeared, leaving behind played-out mines, tumbled-down shanties, and memories of those who sought their fortunes on the lode.
The fortune seekers were many: miners and madams, confidence men and dance hall girls. The fast life was as stratified as any proper community, ranging from expensively kept women to prostitutes living in cribs. Laura Fair, an elite member of the demimonde, shot her protector and, after a spectacular trial, retired to live modestly in San Francisco. Jessie Lester made a small fortune as a madam while middle rank prostitutes such as Julia Bulette died in debt. At the lowest end of the scale were "celestial damsels," nameless slave women brought from China to minister to the needs of Chinese workers. Chronicling it all was the cynical and lascivious pen of Alf Doten, writer, editor, and bon vivant.
In Gold Diggers and Silver Miners , sociologist Marion S. Goldman provides a detailed account of prostitution on the Comstock Lode. By considering sexual commerce in a community limited in space and time, she explores general relationships between prostitution and society, shedding light on sociological questions of importance today.