Friday, June 22, 2007

What is a "nymph of the pave?"

If you've been reading old newspapers with regularity, you occasionally come across euphemisms for prostitutes, madams, and houses of ill repute.

The APG mailing list has had an interesting discussion this week about this - spurred by this post by Jana Sloan Broglin. Many respected genealogists have commented with additional terms, but by far the most complete and interesting post was by Karen Mauer Green, who did her thesis on prostitution in New York City. Karen also provides a bibliography for books about the lives of prostitutes and madams, in addition to a very complete list of euphemisms.

In addition to "nymph of the pave," I think my favorites are "young lady of extinguished modesty" and "woman with virtue of a very bad odor." My favorite euphemism for the whorehouse is "tabernacle of corrupt morality."

Read them all, and have a good laugh. Then think about the women - they might be a sister or niece of one of your ancestors. I'm curious if anyone has found a "nymph of the pave" in their ancestry?

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