Lawmakers try to end prostitution in 1914

Report and Recommendations of the Wisconsin Legislative Committee to Investigate the White Slave Traffic and Kindred Subjects (1914)


In 1913, a legislative committee researched prostitution in Wisconsin in the hope of eliminating it. Chaired by Sen. Howard Teasdale of Sparta, it sent hundreds of questionnaires to civic leaders around the state, examined 605 witnesses at hearings in 13 Wisconsin cities, conducted interviews with 311 leaders in 30 other towns, and took testimony from everyone from priests to prostitutes. It even sent undercover investigators into brothels and taverns in 35 communities.

Private investigators' reports on pimps, prostitutes, and madams are given on pages 14, 23-26, and 180-184, respectively. A table showing the characteristics of 60 prostitutes appears on pages 20-22, and statistics on prostitution in Milwaukee are on pages 209-212. Economic aspects of the problem are discussed on pages 79-82 and 118-124, political aspects on 82-84, and legal aspects on pages 84-97. The causes of prostitution are described on pages 103-118, and the public health consequences on pages 124-147. Suggestions for curing the problem through better law enforcement are given on pages 147-167 and through new legislation on pages 168-179. Drafts of specific bills recommended by the committee begin on page 212.

Selected photographs from the commission's files are online at Wisconsin Historical Images.

An article examining the committee's work is "Sin in Wisconsin: The Teasdale Vice Committee of 1913" by Paul Hass in the online Wisconsin Magazine of History, 49/2 (winter 1965-66): 138-151.   Selected archival documents from the committee's hearings are given elsewhere at Turning Points in Wisconsin History; search "Teasdale" on the Turning Points home page to retrieve them all.




Related Topics: The Progressive Era
Progressivism and the Wisconsin Idea
Creator: Wisconsin. Legislature. Committee on White Slave Traffic and Kindred Subjects.
Pub Data: Madison, Wis. : The Committee, 1914.
Citation: Wisconsin. Legislature. Committee on White Slave Traffic and Kindred Subjects. Report and Recommendations of the Wisconsin Legislative Committee to Investigate the White Slave Traffic and Kindred Subjects. (Madison, Wis.: The Committee, 1914); Online facsimile at:  http://www.wisconsinhistory.org/turningpoints/search.asp?id=1647; Visited on: 9/23/2014
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