The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 89, July 1985 - April, 1986

Southwestern Historical Quarterly

such traits did not exist in the years when "Our Crowd," as House and
his allies called themselves, asserted authority in Texas. "They smile at
House in Texas," Ray Stanndard Baker noted in the 192os when he in-
terviewed other Wilsonians in the state. Some of that ironic spirit comes
through in Joyce Williams's well-researched book and makes it a useful
guide to the profitable direction for estimating the real significance of
Edward M. House and his place in Texas history.
University of Texas at Austin LEWIS L. GOULD
Daughters of Joy, Sisters of Misery: Prostitutes in the American West, r865-
189o. By Anne M. Butler. (Chicago: University of Illinois Press,
1985. Pp. xx+179. Preface, introduction, illustrations, notes, con-
clusion, bibliographical note, index. $16.95.)
While insisting that prostitutes in the nineteenth-century West played
a crucial role in transforming frontier into civil society, Anne M. Butler
takes issue with what she sees as the positive, even glamorous, cast of
relevant recent literature. She draws far more misery than joy in her
bleak picture of prostitutes desperately seeking stability and romance
but doomed to perpetual disorder, degradation, and low self-esteem.
Butler's study covers the twelve states between the Mississippi River
and the Sierras. In these states prostitutes came in all races and many
nationalities, inhabited mining, cattle, and other urban centers, and
ranches, reservations, and forts in the hinterlands. Only about half of
these women were single; the others, mostly aged fifteen to thirty, were
married, divorced, or widowed, and many had children present, often
involved in their mother's business.
Butler's topical approach allows her to draw interesting conclusions
on the relation of prostitution to the growth of the law-enforcement
establishment and to the military, which apparently sanctioned the
presence of prostitutes, providing health care and rations, to relieve
tension in isolated forts and to safeguard the virtue of officers' wives
and daughters. But topical organization separates some points better
joined, such as the dearth of economic alternatives in the West for
women of little education, and the chaos of personal lives characterized
by desertion of husbands and children, personal violence, and petty
thievery. While Butler repeatedly evokes the image of a chaotic frontier,
she provides no evidence that prostitutes back east lived calmer lives.
Butler does draw comparisons within the West that indicate structures of
prostitution differed depending on race composition and the nature of
the clientele in such locations as San Antonio and Austin, Texas.


Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 89, July 1985 - April, 1986. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. Accessed April 28, 2016.

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