I want to share something fun I did a few weeks back. I bought a newspaper mainly because I wanted to comb the want ads for job listings. There was a super article in the weekend supplement regarding a new book written about some 1890’s photos of brothel women discovered by a gentleman at a sale out west that he spent over a decade researching. He linked them to Reading PA as there were 2 shots of women reading the same paper I had bought! Beings he had published prior books and had the means in which to get this story out, he was able to document these wonderful images he bought and pieced together some of the history. My interest was piqued and the article announced his local book signing and lecture, the next day! I asked my mother to accompany me and no surpise, she did not seem as interested in the story as I. Not really wanting to go alone, I resorted to asking my husband. Although he was not thrilled, he agreed.
The event was held at the Berks County History Center in Reading. I never knew it existed! My husband had been there to fix their phone lines for work and was familiar with it. We arrived in time to enjoy some snacks and walk around the museum which was excellent! If you are local, it is a great retrospect of the history in Berks with homestead, wartime and industry artifacts. It was surprisingly large and had many carriages and other fun things to check out plus many audio exhibits telling stories.
The author, Robert Flynn Johnson, arrived and the lecture started. He explained how he came about recreating the story of the brothel, it’s owner and patrons....many of which are anonymous, just by researching what clues were available in the shots. The photographer was also revealed and was a known portrait photographer in the area. Amazing to spy on his personal work that he most likely never intended on sharing with the world. He even appeared in a nude himself, a subject of his own work.
We enjoyed the evening and I placed an order for the book as all copies available that night were already sold. He did share many photos with us during the lecture but I really wanted to see more! My book was available to pick up today and I went back to the museum and am now starting to ingest it. It was signed by the author since I ordered it during the event. He traveled to NYC after the lecture to present at a exhibit opening and official release of the book there and signed copies for all who ordered and shipped back to Reading for us. I am looking forward to reading the essays he included from notable experts on fashion and the trade during that era, which really round out the history.
I really love that there are people in this world that think like I do. They put the time in to search for the answers of what they find or as I like to say.....what found me. it is so easy for history to be lost and whether it is a manufacturer, person or product, preserving these stories for future generations is imperative.
If you are interested in checking out the book, https://www.amazon.com/Working-Girls-Robert-Flynn-Johnson/dp/1943876584
Reading Eagle article on the book which sparked my interest: http://www.readingeagle.com/news/article/secret-photos-of-1892-reading-brothel-published
Reading Eagle article on the event we attended:
Exhibition of photographs can be viewed through Oct 13th in NYC HERE:
Enjoy your week! 👌