Madison Phillips is a recent graduate of NC State University with a masters in Public History, centered on museum studies and local history. Madison wrote her thesis about sex work in Raleigh, North Carolina, focused from about 1900 to 1930. Joining us for a two part series on The Oldest Profession Podcast, Madison shares her research and riveting stories with your host, Kaytlin Bailey. The two discuss the colorful characters who lived and worked as sex workers in Raleigh, North Carolina during the early 1900s.
Sex Workers & Sex Work in Raleigh, North Carolina
Emma Richardson was one of the first 21st century madams of Raleigh, living at 546 East Davie Street according to the 1900 U.S. Census. Emma Richardson was known to throw extravagant balls at her 14-room home where she would invite young men from Wake Forrest and NC State University.
Bertha Brown lived at 536 East Davie Street, just a few houses down from her rival Emma Richardson. Brown was notorious in Raleigh for selling liquor, getting into public “affrays,” and “keeping a house of ill-repute” by 1905.
Louise Price was quite possibly the most well-known white madam in Raleigh, as she was in control over many properties and was in a position of power for many decades. Price lived at 534 East Davie Street.
Blanche McCade for the most part, lived at 421 Watson Street. Before McCade lived at this location, she lived on the next street over at 404 Green Street, now Dakar Street. According to The News and Observer, McCade was “… regarded by the police as one of the worst offenders in the underworld.”
Ada King lived at 410 Green Street, as recorded in 1915, but by 1917, she moved next door to 408 Green Street. King’s name first appeared in The News and Observer in December of 1914, as she pleaded guilty to running a disorderly house and was given six months in the workhouse, but the judge suspended judgment upon two years of good behavior on King’s part.
Nancy Cotton was one of the few black sex workers who appeared in the newspapers in 1909 when she was first charged with running a bawdy house at 507 East Davie Street.
Alice Griffin originally lived at 518 East Davie Street, in a house owned by Bertha Brown, but she moved to 416 Watson Street sometime around 1917.
Jennie Mays who lived here at 541 East Cabarrus Street for many decades, is a bit of an enigma in the newspaper reports and census records.
Miss Louise Price Tharrington
Credit to Jewell Hardison of The News and Observer
Madison Phillips’ graduate work in the Public History program centered on museum studies and local history. She produced projects on sex work in Raleigh, American serial killers, and the local Raleigh chapters of the American Red Cross. She also worked as a museum educator at the City of Raleigh Museum. She completed her Summer internship at Dorothea Dix Park as a virtual exhibit intern under the guidance of the City of Raleigh Museum. Madison investigated the life of Dorothea Dix and her relationship with people of color. She also worked on a virtual exhibit of the wayside signage featured around the park. This project entailed meticulous work with the existing verbiage and photographs to ready them for virtual display and organizing the material in the StoryMaps software. In the summer of 2022, Madison will be interning for the City of Raleigh as a Parks, Recreation, and Cultural Resources Recreation Intern.
The Morning Post. “Building Permits.” The Morning Post. June 2, 1904. https://www.newspapers.com/clip/89427724/emma-richardson-builds-back/.
———. “House Burned in 30 Minutes.” The Morning Post. February 5, 1904. https://www.newspapers.com/clip/1798014/the-morning-post/.
———. “Fined for Giving Ball.” The Morning Post. September 18, 1904. https://www.newspapers.com/clip/89431897/emma-richardson-fined-for-party/.
The News and Observer. “Emma Richardson Acquitted.” The News and Observer. January 31, 1906. https://www.newspapers.com/clip/89406609/emma-richardson-grace-west/.
———. “Exhibit Fine Contempt for City and State Administration.” The News and Observer. July 24, 1903. https://www.newspapers.com/clip/89427030/first-emma-richardson/#.
———. “The Flaunting of Vice Causes a Fine on Keeper of House.” The News and Observer. September 18, 1904. https://www.newspapers.com/clip/89042708/emma-richardson-city-reacts/.
The North Carolinian. “No Room in Raleigh for Them.” The North Carolinian. September 22, 1904. https://www.newspapers.com/clip/1790837/.
The Raleigh Enterprise. “Local Matters.” The Raleigh Enterprise. March 22, 1906. https://www.newspapers.com/clip/89427314/last-emma-richardson/.
The Farmer and Mechanic. “Hell Holes Can Be Broken up If Officials Want Them Broken Up.” The Farmer and Mechanic. December 12, 1905, https://www.newspapers.com/clip/87547833/bb-banished/.
The Morning Post. “An Interesting Letter.” The Morning Post. March 16, 1900. https://www.newspapers.com/clip/4181975/raleighmorningpost1890s/.
———. “Attack on Police Court.” The Morning Post. September 8, 1905. https://www.newspapers.com/clip/87546025/bb-convicted-in-raleigh/.
The News and Observer. “Bertha Brown Shies at Jail.” The News and Observer. September 17, 1905. https://www.newspapers.com/clip/89453211/bb-pays-fine/.
———. “For Escape by Marriage.” The News and Observer. July 13, 1910. https://www.newspapers.com/clip/87555356/bb-marriage/.
———. “Got Fourteen Months.” The News and Observer. September 10, 1909. https://www.newspapers.com/clip/87551656/bb-convicted/.
———. “Strong Clues to the Smith Murder Sunday.” The News and Observer. November 17, 1908. https://www.newspapers.com/clip/89593776/smith-murder/.
———. “The Banishment of Bertha Brown.” The News and Observer. July 14, 1910. https://www.newspapers.com/clip/87381418/bertha-brown-banished/.
———. “Wholesale Warrants for Evil Women.” The News and Observer. March 29, 1907. https://www.newspapers.com/clip/89656707/long-and-douglass-acts-of-1907/.
The Raleigh Times. “Charge Women with Selling Whiskey.” The Raleigh Times. September 11, 1907. https://www.newspapers.com/clip/87549178/bb-charged/.
———. “Early Morning Fire.” The Raleigh Times. April 11, 1907. https://www.newspapers.com/clip/87549131/bb-house-burned/.
———. “Must Leave City at Once.” The Raleigh Times. August 1, 1905. https://www.newspapers.com/clip/87545575/bb-kicked-out-of-durham/.
———. “Raid the East Raleigh Dens.” The Raleigh Times. September 12, 1907. https://www.newspapers.com/clip/6288790/.
The News and Observer. “Arrest Louise Price for Selling Whiskey.” The News and Observer. May 24, 1928. https://www.newspapers.com/clip/87798318/lp-arrested/.
———. “Big Federal Raid in East Raleigh.” The News and Observer. February 3, 1919. https://www.newspapers.com/clip/87787369/federal-raid/.
———. “Cases against Four Women Dismissed.” The News and Observer. June 6, 1919. https://www.newspapers.com/clip/87787590/federal-case-abandoned/.
———. “East Raleigh Women Fined $50 for Having Too Much Good Beer.” The News and Observer. September 13, 1916. https://www.newspapers.com/clip/87383010/first-louise-price-article/.
———. “Judgement Today in Case against Woman.” The News and Observer. August 15, 1924. https://www.newspapers.com/clip/87796996/lp-owns-96-houses/.
———. “Louise Price Acquitted.” The News and Observer. September 26, 1918. https://www.newspapers.com/clip/87787273/lp-acquitted/.
———. “Louise Price Acquitted.” The News and Observer. December 10, 1919. https://www.newspapers.com/clip/87787889/lp-acquitted-again/.
———. “Louise Price Acquitted.” The News and Observer. February 10, 1922. https://www.newspapers.com/clip/89929000/lp-acquitted-yet-again/.
———. “Louise Price, Georgia Pair Acquitted in Morals Case.” The News and Observer. June 12, 1958. https://www.newspapers.com/clip/87803378/lpt-acquitted-in-fuquay-springs-case/.
———. “Louise Price given Another Road Sentence.” The News and Observer. November 14, 1919. https://www.newspapers.com/clip/87787860/lp-sentenced-again/.
———. “Louise Price Is Again Arrested.” The News and Observer. March 20, 1923. https://www.newspapers.com/clip/87384845/louise-price-arrested-again/.
———. “Louise Price Is Cleared by Jury.” The News and Observer. September 25, 1924. https://www.newspapers.com/clip/87797495/owns-125-house-control-215/.
———. “Louise Price Is Finally in Jail.” The News and Observer. June 26, 1928. https://www.newspapers.com/clip/87798781/lp-in-jail/.
———. “Louise Price Is Granted Pardon.” The News and Observer. May 14, 1918. https://www.newspapers.com/clip/87785748/lp-pardoned/.
———. “Pardon Refused by Louise Price.” The News and Observer. May 21, 1918. https://www.newspapers.com/clip/87785848/lp-refuses-pardon/.
———. “Trial Women Set for August 30th.” The News and Observer. August 16, 1922. https://www.newspapers.com/clip/87788532/red-light-district-quiet/.
———. “Two Autoists Fined for Speeding in City.” The News and Observer. September 13, 1916. https://www.newspapers.com/clip/87383010/first-louise-price-article/.
———. “Use of Old Church Is Great Affront.” The News and Observer. March 21, 1923. https://www.newspapers.com/clip/87790690/church-used-as-brothel/.
———. “Warrants Drawn against Women.” The News and Observer. January 19, 1917. https://www.newspapers.com/clip/89121901/fifteen-women-rounded-up/.
———. “Warrants Served on White Women.” The News and Observer. August 12, 1918. https://www.newspapers.com/clip/87785915/warrants-with-addresses/.
———. “Will Not Interfere in Vagrancy Case.” The News and Observer. May 1, 1918. https://www.newspapers.com/clip/87785336/children-in-mecklenberg-county/.
———. “Woman Submits to Jail Sentence.” The News and Observer. September 10, 1922. https://www.newspapers.com/clip/87384335/louise-price-to-leave-town/.
The State Journal. “Mrs. Price in Jail.” The State Journal. May 24, 1918. https://www.newspapers.com/clip/89921464/lp-in-jail/.
The News and Observer. “Three Arrests Follow Fight in East Raleigh.” The News and Observer. September 13, 1915. https://www.newspapers.com/clip/89883984/first-blanche-mccade-entry/.
———. “Blanche M’Cade Found Not Guilty.” The News and Observer. December 5, 1922. https://www.newspapers.com/clip/89912298/mccade-not-guilty/.
———. “Blanche M’Cade Gets Six Months.” The News and Observer. January 28, 1923. https://www.newspapers.com/clip/89912663/blanche-mccade-six-months/.
———. “Blanche M’Cade Goes on Rampage Again.” The News and Observer. July 30, 1920. https://www.newspapers.com/clip/89886262/blanche-mccade-resisting-arrest/.
———. “Blanche M’Cade in Trouble Again.” The News and Observer. December 4, 1922. https://www.newspapers.com/clip/89912270/aiding-and-abetting-prostitution/.
———. “Blanche M’Cade on Trial Again in City Court.” The News and Observer. December 12, 1919. https://www.newspapers.com/clip/89886090/blanche-mccade-cursing/.
———. “Blanche M’Cade Receives Parole.” The News and Observer. November 10, 1922. https://www.newspapers.com/clip/89911955/blanche-mccade-paroled/.
———. “Blanche McCade, Terror of Police, Dies in Jail.” The News and Observer. August 12, 1927. https://www.newspapers.com/clip/89913169/blanche-mccade-obit/.
———. “Held for Court on Secret Assault Charge.” The News and Observer. March 12, 1920. https://www.newspapers.com/clip/89886120/blanche-mccade-lillian-arnold/.
———. “J. L. Gallagher Is Exonerated by Court.” The News and Observer. September 8, 1920. https://www.newspapers.com/clip/89886561/mccade-careless-and-reckless-driving/.
———. “John Johnson an Ardent Advocate of Preparedness.” The News and Observer. January 21, 1917. https://www.newspapers.com/clip/89884509/blanche-mccade-sentenced/.
———. “M’Cade Woman given ’till Saturday to Quit Town.” The News and Observer. September 29, 1915. https://www.newspapers.com/clip/89884274/blanche-mccade/.
———. “Vagrants given Jail Sentences.” The News and Observer. August 11, 1917. https://www.newspapers.com/clip/89884869/mccade-seven-months/.
Red Light Cafe
The Farmer and Mechanic. “Laws of Man and God against It.” The Farmer and Mechanic. December 15, 1908. https://www.newspapers.com/clip/1790503/.
The News and Observer. “Robbery Was Proven in the Cotton Cafe.” The News and Observer. December 6, 1908. https://www.newspapers.com/clip/89772210/smith-murder-continued/.
———. “Strong Clues to the Smith Murder Sunday.” The News and Observer. November 17, 1908. https://www.newspapers.com/clip/89593776/smith-murder/.
The Raleigh Times. “Defendants in Smith Murder Case Are Guilty.” The Raleigh Times. April 5, 1909. https://www.newspapers.com/clip/89773896/smith-murder-convictions/.
The News and Observer. “Ada King Charged with an Assault.” The News and Observer. July 4, 1917. https://www.newspapers.com/clip/89864723/ada-king-assault/.
———. “Ada King Pleads Guilty in Court.” The News and Observer. December 16, 1914. https://www.newspapers.com/clip/89132281/ada-king/.
———. “Cases against White Women Are Continued.” The News and Observer. August 13, 1918. https://www.newspapers.com/clip/89866617/ada-king-last-entry/.
———. “Police Going to ‘Clean’ up Again.” The News and Observer. July 30, 1917. https://www.newspapers.com/clip/89864779/aug-1-clean-up/.
———. “Vagrants Promise Good Behavior.” The News and Observer. January 28, 1917. https://www.newspapers.com/clip/89149512/vagrants-promise-good-behavior/.
The News and Observer. “Poor Pauline Has Time to Shout In.” The News and Observer. October 23, 1923. https://www.newspapers.com/clip/89779651/nancy-cotton-last-charge/.
———. “Red Light Women Lose Their Cases.” The News and Observer. March 30, 1911. https://www.newspapers.com/clip/89038605/marie-turner-and-nancy-cotton/.
———. “To State’s Prison.” The News and Observer. September 24, 1913. https://www.newspapers.com/clip/89779066/nancy-cotton-nol-prossed/.
———. “Two East Raleigh Women Held for Trial.” The News and Observer. February 7, 1919. https://www.newspapers.com/clip/89038282/nancy-cotton/.
———. “Two Women Sentenced.” The News and Observer. August 13, 1909. https://www.newspapers.com/clip/89036863/nancy-cotton-and-maude-clark/.
The News and Observer. “Catch Him, Mister! Boy Begs Officer.” The News and Observer. July 30, 1919. https://www.newspapers.com/clip/89810943/miller-robbed-at-griffins/.
The Morning Post. “No Hacks at Night.” The Morning Post. June 28, 1905. https://www.newspapers.com/clip/89807920/jennie-mays-warrant/.
The News and Observer. “Paid out $7,500.” The News and Observer. June 25, 1905. https://www.newspapers.com/clip/89807325/jennie-mays-scandal/.
———. “Police Justice Court.” The News and Observer. October 24, 1905. https://www.newspapers.com/clip/89804257/jennie-mays-disorderly-house/.
———. “Seven Are Caught in Raid by Police.” The News and Observer. November 13, 1919. https://www.newspapers.com/clip/87787814/1919-raid/.
Other Important Article
———. “No Underworld Here, Says Chief.” The News and Observer. April 16, 1930. https://www.newspapers.com/clip/56430080/.
Buchanan, John G. “War Legislation against Alcoholic Liquor and Prostitution.” Journal of the American Institute of Criminal Law and Criminology 9, no. 4 (February 1919): 520. https://doi.org/10.2307/1134127.
Buchanan’s journal article gave a broader context to the federal laws that were put in place during WWI surrounding alcohol and sex work. This was used to understand Section Thirteen of the Draft Act of 1917.
Bullough, Vern L, and Bonnie Bullough. Women and Prostitution: A Social History. Buffalo, N.Y.: Prometheus Books, 1987.
This book provided a social history of sex work, starting with ancient civilizations. It was important to understanding the context in which sex work has occurred.
Ditmore, Melissa Hope. Encyclopedia of Prostitution and Sex Work. Vol. 2, O – Z. Westport, Conn: Greenwood Press, 2006.
———. Encyclopedia of Prostitution and Sex Work. Vol. 1, A-N. Westport, Conn: Greenwood Press, 2006.
The two volumes of this encyclopedia provided definitions of terms through the perspective of sex work.
Keire, Mara L. For Business & Pleasure: Red-Light Districts and the Regulation of Vice in the United States, 1890-1933. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2010.
This book was used to learn more about established red-light districts around the nation and was used to male comparisons to Raleigh, NC.
Ancestry.com. North Carolina, U.S., Marriage Index, 1741-2004 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2007.
The Marriage Indexes from Ancestry.com pieced together parts of the stories of the women who went by their legal names.
Ancestry.com. U.S., City Directories, 1822-1995 [database on-line]. Lehi, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2011.
The Raleigh City Directories reported the addresses, and sometimes the occupations, of the woman researched for this podcast.
Johnson, K. Todd. “Prohibition.” Edited by William S. Powell. www.ncpedia.org. NCpedia, 2006. https://www.ncpedia.org/prohibition.
Johnson’s encyclopedia entry on prohibition in North Carolina gave insight into how alcohol was policed in the state before the nationwide ban on alcohol.
Powell, William S. “Blind Tiger | NCpedia.” www.ncpedia.org, 2006. https://www.ncpedia.org/blind-tiger.
Powell’s encyclopedia entry on blind tigers explained the antiquated term that was featured in many of the news articles.
“Sanborn Fire Insurance Map from Raleigh, Wake County, North Carolina.” Library of Congress, Washington, D.C. 20540 USA, 1914. https://www.loc.gov/item/sanborn06471_006/.
The Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps of 1909 and 1914 identified individual structures and provided information about each structure. In particular, the 1909 map identified certain dwellings under the acronym of “F.B.” for “female boarding” houses, or brothels.