Thursday, March 28, 2019

Women's History Month 2019: A "Sporting" Directory

If you're a fan of the Netflix version of  Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events which tells the fictional saga of the Baudelaire kids and the horrible adults entrusted with their care you know that the theme music tells the viewer to "look away, look away."

I think this might be one of those times that I may need to tell you dear reader to "look away" if you're sensitive about certain matters involving "working women." The sort of working women that engage in the oldest profession.

Now for those who are still with me, I believe our ancestors were not all angels. People do what they must to survive. Some people make choices we wouldn't . Some of us probably hail from women who engaged in work of a more horizontal nature. That's just how life is.

Men who engage such services historically, may have needed a "directory" of women to visit. In this case a GAR (Grand Army of the Republic) get together in Louisville, Kentucky required such a directory. Lots of older men, visiting a new place, looking for "companionship" and something to do.

And so the GAR Souvenir Sporting Guide (1895) was born. "Sporting" as you have most likely already guessed is an euphemism. 

This 30 page Guide is available from Internet Archive. While most of the entries just list the business owner. There are a few that provide other names and even some background information like where a woman is from.

So my goal here isn't to shock you. It's to once again show that there are all kinds of directories. Be curious and see what's out there for the place your ancestor is from. 

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