Lancaster Law & Order Society Documents

In 1913, the Lancaster’s Law and Order Society–a group of concerned citizens seeking to combat vice in the city– launched a survey which found 27 brothels and up to 189 women engaging in prostitution in Lancaster City. Later that year, they issued a report that called for a crackdown on vice. Members of the Law and Order Society saw the passage of new laws and the enforcement of old ones as one way to change their communities for the better. However, the Law and Order Society also recognized that systemic change was needed to fix issues that resulted in the exploitation of workers and the low wages which drove women to prostitution. 

While conducting their survey, investigators from the American Vigilance Association and the Law and Order Society recorded their conversations with the women working in Lancaster’s brothels. The reports provide a glimpse into the lives of people whose stories are often otherwise unrecorded.

Documents coming soon!

Kennedy Eckert

In the PDF below are reports compiled from information given by Kennedy Eckert, a 24-year old bell boy at the Wheatland Hotel. Many of his reports detail what was, at that time, labeled “perversion” or “perverts” (sexual actions or gestures) with “fairies,” an offensive slang term for gay person.

Loubell Kerns & Barbara Foreman

In the PDF below is a report submitted by 24-year old Paul Kinsie who reported the “source of supply” of vice called “charity” by Loubell Kerns. Loubell was a young, 17-year old girl who ran away from home in Morganstown, West Virginia. Kinsie reports Kerns as “charity,” meaning she could be a “charity girl.” Charity girls were typically young, unmarried, working-class women who engaged with men outside of the societal norms of the time. They often had casual relationships with men, sometimes sexual in nature, in exchange for goods or experiences, like theater tickets, night on the town, etc… that helped the girls achieve the adventurous lifestyle they desired. However, Loubell’s remorse at running away from home could be truthful or a way to earn pity from men. What do you think?

In the PDF below, Paul Kinsie reports another interaction with a “charity girl” named Barbara Foreman. Contrary to Loubell Kerns, Kinsie expresses his belief that Barbara, after she says she will move on from Lancaster to another city, will become a prostitute. In particular, he mentioned that Barbara shows “the connection between the “charity” and the prostitute.”