Working Girls An American Brothel, Circa 1892

Front cover image

Robert F. Johnson, Foreword Dita von Teese

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Glitterati Incorporated
Territory: USA & Canada
Size: 8 in x 10 in
Pages: 240
Illustrations: 256 b&w

RRP $60.00

  • This book has feminist, vintage photography, and American social themes
  • Photographs herein pre-date the famed vintage bordello photographs of E.J. Bellocq's Storyville discovered and made famous by Lee Friedlander
  • The book includes essays by notable writers on a variety of topics

After becoming captivated by the beauty and originality of a group of nineteenth-century photographs, Robert Flynn Johnson has uncovered more than two hundred vintage images of women who lived and worked at a brothel in Reading, Pennsylvania, circa 1892, and showcases them here for the first time for a wider public. Working Girls details the private, creative archive of commercial photographer William Goldman, whose imagery paints a complete picture of the environments that these women inhabited - from inside the brothel, posing artistically for the camera, to their off-duty routines, such as reading, smoking, and bathing.

Taken two decades before the famous E. J. Bellocq photographs of prostitutes in Storyville, New Orleans, circa 1913, Johnson chronicles the aesthetic, historical, and sociological importance of Goldman's artwork in the history of photography, referencing them alongside paintings and photographs by such artists as Degas, Eakins, and Monsieur X. With essays that provide an insightful historical overview of Goldman's work in context of the period in which they were taken, by feminist and cultural luminaries including Dita Von Teese, Ruth Rosen and Dennita Sewell, this extraordinary collection provides a personal visual record of lives of these women while also offering a deeper understanding of the 'working girls' that existed more than 120 years ago.

Robert Flynn Johnson is curator emeritus, Achenback Foundation for Graphic Arts, Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco. He is the author of numerous books, principally in the area of vintage photography, most notably The New York Times' designated top-ten title for 2017, Plant Kingdoms; The Photographs of Charles Jones. He lives in San Francisco, California.