Tuesday, October 20, 2009
This is a very scarce book, titled simply Blue Book. It was published in New Orleans around 1912. It is, not to put too fine a point on it, a directory of the prostitutes of that city, who worked in a defined area called the Tenderloin District or Storyville. "This is the boundary in which the women are compelled to live, according to law." The women are categorized by their race - white, colored or octoroon - then listed alphabetically. There are a lot of names. You'll see the page reminding readers that the book may not be mailed. The listings are supplemented by pages advertising restaurants, nightclubs, cigars and booze. Today a copy will cost you several thousand dollars.
I think most of the history of America is written in its advertising.