Degree Type


Date of Award


Degree Name

Master of Arts



First Advisor

Pamela Riney-Kehrberg


In response to the urbanization and industrialization that occurred throughout the nineteenth century, people across the country began to reevaluate their perceptions of prostitution during the later part of the nineteenth century and into the early part of the twentieth century. As young women began to migrate to cities looking for factory and domestic work, parents became concerned by the dangers that their daughters would face in the city. This concern was especially felt within the Midwest, where farm families were heavily dependent upon the labors of their daughters. As they transitioned into the later part of the nineteenth century, Iowans' became more concerned that young women would be lured into prostitution and began lashing out at those individuals who they believed posed the greatest danger to their daughters. This thesis will analyze the changing perceptions of prostitution in the later part of the nineteenth century and the varying responses to prostitution during the early part of the twentieth century. Using district court records and newspapers, this thesis will trace the changing opinions of prostitution, focusing specifically on the ways in which people redefined who was to blame for perpetuating prostitution and who suffered the most because of prostitution. After establishing a more focused perception of prostitution, Iowans' began reevaluating the social and legal ways in which they approached prostitution; this thesis will then conclude with an examination of the reasoning of these revised reform measures and their level of effectiveness through an analysis of parole records and annual reports from local reform societies.


Copyright Owner

Hope Mitchell



File Format


File Size

96 pages