Nevada History Lecture – Prostitution in Nevada
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March 25 @ 1:00 pm - 2:30 pm
Nevada History Lecture
March 25, 2023 from 1-2:30pm
Diana L. Ahmad, Ph.D.
Curators’ Distinguished Teaching Professor Emerita
Missouri University of Science and Technology
Prostitution in Nevada
Prostitution is as much a part of the history of the American West as cowboys, miners, and buffalo. Thousands of women from three continents worked the tenderloin areas of the mining camps and towns of Nevada. Often depicted as soiled doves having hearts of gold, the women likely viewed their lifestyles as little more than a way to make an independent living in a society that demanded that they become members of the “cult of domesticity.” This talk investigates the lives of women who challenged the standard expectations for their gender in the nineteenth century.
Two of Nevada’s most famous prostitutes include Julia Bulette who was murdered in the 1860s and Mollie Forshay who murdered a barkeeper in the 1870s. Bulette’s murderer was found and hung a year after the incident and Forshay spent three years of a twenty-seven-year sentence in the Nevada State Prison. Few of these working women became as infamous or famous as Bulette and Forshay, but they represent a small, yet fascinating part of Nevada’s, and America’s, history.
Dr. Diana Ahmad is a Curators’ Distinguished Teaching Professor Emerita of American history at Missouri University of Science and Technology. She specializes in the history of the American West, with areas of interest in vice (smoking opium and prostitution), as well as animals on the overland trails. In addition, Ahmad looks at the concept of Manifest Destiny and its role in the movement west, including American expansion into the Pacific. Ahmad is also the Book Review Editor for the Nevada Historical Society Quarterly. Currently, she is retired and working on a book about American tourists in the Pacific from 1880-1914. Ahmad received her Ph.D. from the University of Missouri in 1997 and her B.A. (1974) and M.A. (1979) from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.
We will have Dr. Ahmad’s two books available The Opium Debate and Chinese Exclusion Laws and Success Depends on the Animals: Emigrants, Livestock, and Wild Animals on the Overland Trails, 1840–1869 available in our museum store for purchase.