Saloon Girls

Desirée Lee and I are doing research for a project we are coauthoring. The book will be set in the American Old West, circa 1880s. Yes, this is a departure from our usual story settings. No, this won’t be a stereotypical western—coming from us, that ought to be a given.

As part of our research for this project, we’re learning about old West era saloon girls. However, we aren’t finding much. Most of what we turn up isn’t historical information; it’s advertising for modern-day saloons, and/or costume designs and/or ideas. Can anyone out there help us with our research? The big question we’re trying to answer right now is this: Were 1880s era saloon girls typically prostitutes, or did they simply hang out in the saloons, flirting and getting the men to buy them drinks and such? What small bits of information we’ve turned up on that so far points to the latter. However, those articles mostly seem to just regurgitate the same information almost verbatim. And some tiny bits of information seem to point to the former, too.

If anyone can help with this research point, please get in touch with us.

Scott Harper

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