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Category Archives: "The Bridewell"

Morning World Herald, February 14, 1901. “Being suspicious of something”–I love it. Thieving screw.

econChicago Tribune, November 10, 1867. Interesting thing here is the assertion that wife-beating “seldom attracts the special attention of the public.” As we’ve seen, the newspapers and especially judges were all over this issue and competing to be out in front as hardliners against wife-beaters. So too, as we’ll see, were politicians and clergymen. Read More »

sistersChicago Tribune, July 7, 1900. Particularly motivated women sometimes didn’t wait for the menfolk to get off their lazy asses and dole out the rough justice. I’m curious what “almost mobbed” means here.

kick trib 3 7 21Chicago Tribune, May 2, 1921. Steel shoes! I guess that job would be outsourced to old-timey deep-sea divers then? Read More »

cowChicago Tribune, September 26, 1859. I’m dying to find out more about this obscene handbill issue. References to “quacks and harpies” and “public morals” make me wonder if we’re not talking about the advertisement of abortion services. As for the “cow nuisance,” it’s regrettable that the locavores of the day didn’t hold their ground against these busybody reformers. Read More »

hagAChicago Tribune, October 30, 1871. This is rather an ungenerous little bit of reportage on several counts. Imagine that you’re just out of the city lockup, your ex-boyfriend shoots your current beau in front of you, and then the newspaper blames for you and all your sex for it, and then calls you “an old Bridewell hag” in the bargain. All told, a pretty rough week for poor Rose Clark.

detox1The Chicago Tribune, December 23, 1858. According to Twelve Step lore, alcoholism was universally seen as a moral failing until Bill W. and Dr. Silkworth redefined it as a medical issue in the 1930s. In fact, the Revolutionary war hero and Founding Father Dr. Benjamin Rush had the medical model of alcoholism pretty much down over two centuries ago, and plenty of clinicians wrestled with the problem in the intervening years. As attending physician at Chicago’s “Bridewell,” Dr. Paoli here was squarely on the front lines of treatment. Some of his ideas have aged better than others. Read More »

aoakleyABaltimore Afro-American, August 15, 1903. aothebelleofthemeall One wonders: was she expecting to find money in the negro’s trousers, or was the plan to fence them? In any case, I hasten to explain that, although Annie was a very handsome woman in her time, this story is otherwise pure bullshit. The hapless trouser thief was not the celebrated marksperson but a former burlesque ecdysiast fallen on even harder times. The real Annie Oakley brought 55 libel suits against various newspapers, 54 of which were successful. The Hearst papers were responsible for putting this counterfactual gem into circulation in the first place, and they tried to fight Oakley’s lawsuit by hiring a private dick to dig up some compromising dirt on her. They failed. The Hearst papers were always at the cutting edge of “human interest” journalism. As one Hearst reporter memorably put it, “A Hearst newspaper is like a screaming woman running down the street with her throat cut.”

lureAChicago Tribune, January 18, 1921. Well, this scenario isn’t exactly as described in Mr. Kipling’s famous poem “The Vampire,” but the basic message is the same: Men are boobs, see? Read More »

Chicago Tribune, April 4, 1933. Lovely little window onto busy, overlapping realms of minor criminal enterprise. One guy makes a living screening stag reels in his home; the other, by impersonating a cop and shaking down pornographers. And again with the acid in the face. One isn’t sorry to see this charming little folkway fall into disuse.