The Murder of Helen Jewett: The Life and Death of a Prostitute in Ninetenth-Century New York
By Patricia Cline Cohen
Why this book?
This book is a riveting account of the life of a beautiful, well-established, young prostitute in mid-19th century New York City, her murder by one of her patrons, and his sensational trial and its aftermath. As compelling to read as a modern mystery novel, it is also brilliant history that illuminates much about early 19th century small New England towns from which young men and women fled, drawn by the allure of big cities. We learn about the lives of young male clerks “on the loose” in urban America, about the clothes and jewelry and hairstyles of the young female prostitutes as well as their inner lives and longing for culture. We are reminded that the police and the judicial systems could be as brutally unjust then as now.
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