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Good Time Girls of the Alaska-Yukon Gold Rush: A Secret History of the Far North

Overview


In the boomtowns of the Alaska-Yukon stampedes, where gold dust was common currency, the rarest commodity was an attractive woman, and her company could be costly. Author Lael Morgan takes you into the heart of the gold rush demimonde, that "half world" of prostitutes, dance hall girls, and entertainers who lived on the outskirts of polite society. Meet "Dutch Kate" Wilson, who pioneered many areas long before the "respectable" women who received credit for getting there first ... ruthless heartbreakers Cad ...
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1998 Hard cover First edition. Stated First Printing, March 1998. New in new dust jacket. Sewn binding. Cloth over boards. 351 p., period photos and index. Audience: ... General/trade. . Double page map of most of Alaska. Notes. Bibliography. A really nicely done book with chapters not just on particular ladies (e.g., Klondike Kate, George Lee, Mae Field), but how gold rush towns embraced (pardon the pun) the ladies, or vice versa (pardon the pun). "Mining the Klondike Kings-Nuggets and Nuptials", "Sin in Southern Alaska-Bargaining for Love", "Fairbanks Battling the Odds-Establishing the Best Line in the West", etc. Read more Show Less

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Overview


In the boomtowns of the Alaska-Yukon stampedes, where gold dust was common currency, the rarest commodity was an attractive woman, and her company could be costly. Author Lael Morgan takes you into the heart of the gold rush demimonde, that "half world" of prostitutes, dance hall girls, and entertainers who lived on the outskirts of polite society. Meet "Dutch Kate" Wilson, who pioneered many areas long before the "respectable" women who received credit for getting there first ... ruthless heartbreakers Cad Wilson and Rose Blumkin ... "French" Marie Larose, who auctioned herself off as a wife to the highest bidder, Georgia Lee, who invested her earnings wisely and became one of the richest women in the North, and Edith Neile, called "the Oregon Mare," famous for both her outlandish behavior and her softhearted generosity.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"Good Time Girls is an important and entertaining addition to gold rush literature. These women are as important a part of the Klondike story as Big Alex and Swiftwater Bill. After all, they too were gold diggers."
--Klondike historian Pierre Berton

"One of the 10 best non-fiction books of 1998."
--LA Times

"...Fascinating reading...the abundant, luscious photographs of these amazing women, the 'cribs' from which they worked, their customers, their lovers, and the frontier towns they helped to pioneer are themselves worth the price of the book."
--Linda Jaivin, Los Angeles Times

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780945397632
  • Publisher: Epicenter Press, Incorporated
  • Publication date: 8/1/1999
  • Pages: 351
  • Product dimensions: 6.30 (w) x 9.32 (h) x 1.36 (d)

Meet the Author


Lael Morgan was born in rural Maine and has lived more than half her life in the wilds. She started her writing career as a reporter for the Malden Press in Massachusetts. Later she became a photojournalist at the Juneau Empire in Alaska's capitol city, and then covered crime, politics and the old red light district for the Fairbanks News Miner just south of the Arctic Circle.

In 1968, Morgan began a five year stint at the Los Angeles Times, and then returned to the Far North for assignments with National Geographic, Washington Post, Christian Science Monitor and Alaska Magazine.

In 1988 she joined the Department of Journalism and Broadcasting, University of Alaska Fairbanks, where she taught writing, photography and multimedia for 12 years. In 1999 she became managing editor and later publisher of the Casco Bay Weekly, an alternative newspaper in Portland, Maine. Then, motivated by a low threshold of boredom, she moved south to Arlington, Texas, where she went to work for the Department of Communication, University of Texas Arlington.

Morgan has authored more than a dozen books, including Good Time Girls of the Alaska Yukon Gold Rush which in 1998 won her the title of Historian of the Year from the Alaska Historical Society. Art and Eskimo Power: The Life and Times of Alaskan Howard Rock, a book she wrote in 1988, was recently included in a listing state's best nonfiction books, and has been republished by University of Alaska Press.

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Read an Excerpt

Throughout my research, I've looked for patterns and found surprisingly few.  Perhaps because so many of these ladies of the evening were "amateurs," their backgrounds and dreams mirrored those of respectable women of that post-Victorian era.  However, one thing that the pioneering good time girls of the Far North did have in common was that all of them had to have vast courage and stamina.  They often labored harder, under more unpleasant circumstance, than their respectable sisters to help carve a civilized niche into unforgiving wilderness.  And most were extraordinarily independent women, not only for their time but by today's standards as well.

Moralists tend to think of prostitutes as parasites on society, but that sterotype falls away in situations where men heavily outnumber women and are forced to share them, and where conditions are so difficult that all must fight to survive.  Thus the pioneering whores of yore of the Far North were accorded unusual license and respect.  And whatever their motives in entering the trade, they definitely earned both.

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