Arizona Humanities speaker and historian Bernard Wilson kicked off the Lake Havasu Museum of History’s event series for the new year Tuesday, with a presentation titled “From Maiden Lane to Gay Alley: Prostitution in Tucson, 1880-1912.”
Wilson’s presentation covered information and research from an article of the same name, which he wrote and published with his daughter, Zaellotius Wilson, in a 2014 issue of The Journal of Arizona History.
The article and presentation were the result of information gathered from official archival sources, such as birth and death certificates, newspaper articles and census records, as well as interviews and excepts of a saloon owner’s journal.
Wilson said all the sources together painted a picture of the role of prostitution in Tucson during its “rough-and-tumble” frontier town days. He discussed the business aspects of legal and open prostitution, and how many women were drawn to the work because it was the only work available to them in the West at that time. He examined the struggles of the women who led that lifestyle, including discrimination, violence and frequent run-ins with the law, and touched on the economic impacts prostitution brought to the early town of Tucson.
Wilson’s presentation was given on campus at the ASU Colleges at Lake Havasu City, sponsored by the Lake Havasu Historical Society and Lake Havasu Museum of History through Arizona Humanities.
According to the Arizona Humanities website, http://azhumanities.org, Wilson is an independent researcher who started his humanities research as part of a personal genealogical investigation into his family. He has spent more than 20 years researching Tucson’s African-American pioneers and community.
The next program in the museum’s event series will be given by speaker Erik Berg – “Vintage Arizona: The Growth, Death and Rebirth of Local Wine Industry” – on Feb. 13, from 7 to 8 p.m.
For more information, call the museum at 928-854-4938 or visit http://havasumuseum.com.