Old Brothels

A brothel, also known as a bordello or whorehouse, is an establishment specifically dedicated to prostitution, providing the prostitutes a place to meet and to have sex with the clients. In some places, licensed brothels are legal , and in many countries, places such as massage parlors are allowed to function as brothels, with varying degrees of regulation and repression. Depending on zoning, brothels may be confined to special red-light districts.

The word brothel is from Middle English, and stems from ‘brothen’, the past participle of ‘brethen’, meaning ‘to waste away’ or ‘to go to ruin’, showing the low regard brothels and prostitution have been held in throughout much of history.

Other (older) names for brothel are ‘cathouse’, ‘bawdyhouse’, ‘house of ill repute’, ‘house of prostitution’, ‘knocking shop’, ‘pleasure house’ or ‘sporting house’.
Brothels have been known for most of recorded history. Early incidences include temple prostitution in many Mediterranean and Middle Eastern countries. By the time of the ancient Grecian and Roman civilizations, brothels were established and sometimes licensed institutions, with the latter first being recorded in Athens in 594 BC.
This first official brothel was soon followed by many others, and also influenced the creation of special schools in which various classes of prostitutes (from slavegirls to future courtesans) were trained for their profession.

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Here are some newspaper clippings from The Boston Daily Globe 1800

Boston Daily Globe

…sniiiu sum, tenth ot its value perhaps, with wlilcli ho returns to tho bank, procures fresh “stiick of chips,” riiuews his play, uud seldom falls lo “quit”‘ before he has “won out”a sufiloleni; amount to redeem his coat. tho ladles nf elegant: leisure, as ilie inmates of brothels are sonietunes termed, put in tlielr most costly wraps at times to replenish the pockets of an impecunious loveror to satisfy desire which they havo for “racket” thai comes upon them when they are in bad fluanoial way. tlie instances are nire when they fall to redeem…

Monday, October 22, 1883 Boston, Massachusetts

Boston Daily Globe

…they knew nothing of tho crime they wont to fight. “not till tltey wore surrounded by whose lives were lives of vice, with whom crime was daily affair, did thoy know anything of whot wickedness there was in the world. “with tho keepers of these thousands of brothels the police of our city are largely 111 collusion, tho captains know where they are, and it lald is to be made the criminal inmates of these places are warned in time. “there are people who know and have told me, and we have the proof that the poiioe…

Friday, June 01, 1894 Boston, Massachusetts

Library Duty

I’ve been here at the Fisher Library most the morning and afternoon. I found a great database through the public library database of America’s Historical Newspapers. It lead me to archives to newspapers dated from 1690 to 1922 and had a lot of opinion sections especially about prostitutes and brothels.

Something interesting popped up while I was searching the databases. From the Publisher of the Boston Evening Post, May 1, 1738 about brothels in the New England.

Quoting from this Newspaper:

“If a Brothel Houfe is known, or but fufpected, People are prefently for pulling it down and a Mobb rais’d for that Purpofe …”

Though I looked for the dates of three day and three night raid on the Beehive Brothel in 1735. There seems to be no mentions of prostitutes or brothels in the newspaper archives till the 1700.

On to the Globe and the Herald, though they have only archives online starting in 1980.