Undergraduate Honors Theses

Thesis Defended

Spring 2017

Document Type

Thesis

Type of Thesis

Departmental Honors

Department

History

First Advisor

Dr. Thomas Andrews

Second Advisor

Dr. Matthew Gerber

Third Advisor

Dr. Robert Buffington

Abstract

Prostitutes occupy a special place in Western mythology and are often romanticized and vilified alongside the cowboy, outlaw, and miner when imagining old western boomtowns. In actuality, prostitutes were a fixture to almost every Colorado boomtown during the flush years, perhaps most notably in the town of Leadville. However, when the "horizontal fun" had passed and the "heart of gold" had lost its shine, what impact had the ladies of the night truly made on their society? Exploring the subject by way of a tri­partite chronology tracing prostitution in Leadville through the stages of initial toleration, growing challenge and ultimate prohibition of the practice, this research explores the myriad ways in which prostitutes engaged with the civic apparatus of the city to help form their frontier society. Further, it explores how their engagement contributed to the creation and sustenance of many of Leadville's most important municipal projects from 1870 to 1915.