Sunday, July 7, 2024

Turn of the Century Day, Part 1 - William I. Goldman's Brothel Photos

Today we have a two part turn of the century set, starting with William I. Goldman (1856-1922) of Reading, Pennsylvania.  He was an excellent portrait photographer and an officer in the State Photographers Association.  Active in the Masonic Lodge, Elks Club, and several other civic organizations, he was a popular, successful, and respected business man.  Eighty years after his death, however, another side to his work was discovered when a collector found an album of photos of prostitutes taken in Sallie Shearer's Reading brothel between 1892 and 1902.  (It turns out he was also one of her best customers.)  The pictures of the working girls are now considered among the best work of that sort anywhere, and nestled among them were about 10 male nudes.  Unfortunately, I was only able to find four of those for this series. so if anyone has access to others, please let me know.  I have looked and looked to no avail.



  1. It may seem contradictory to us in the 21st C, but the Establishment protection of brothels was very common in America at that time. One of the justifications was that by providing men with those services, the "purity" of "respectable" ladies in the community would be protected. Interesting that as social mores relaxed WRT premarital sex, the opposition to open prosititution grew. Of course, with the relaxation of those mores, men had less need to patronize the brothels, so their customer base lessened. -Dee Exx