The prostitution industry is one of the most important aspects in the development of the American West. Often overlooked, disregarded or hidden due to its racy connotations, the “oldest profession” fueled the economies of camps, towns, and cities as they grew. Sex workers, from common prostitutes to reigning madams like Mattie Blaylock, Maggie Wood, and Big Ann Wynne, defied social norms to make sure their hometowns, and themselves, were successful. Their reasons for entering the life varied, from those who could find no other way to make money to women who desired independence and wealth. In return they were ostracized, criticized, and subject to fines, jail, disease, drug addiction, violence and unwanted pregnancies. While their success stories are many, others failed in their endeavors, their names buried with them when they died.
Behind Brothel Doors chronicles the history of the nineteenth-century sex work industry in the Great Plains states of Kansas, Nebraska and Oklahoma.
Jan MacKell Collins has been a published author, speaker and presenter since 2003. Her focus has always been on western history, with an emphasis on historical prostitution. She has been featured on several radio programs in Arizona, California, and Colorado. She is also working as a historical consultant with a director in the feature film industry. Ms. Collins currently resides in Oregon, where she continues researching the history of prostitution.