"We Are Not Permitted to be Anywhere Else:" Prostitution, Sexuality, and Reform in New York City, 1830-1900
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The Underworld Sewer is a rare find, as it is a book about prostitution by a former prostitute and madam at the turn of the century. Washburn's book is one of a handful of first-hand accounts by prostitutes, but while the book has incredible insight into the world of the prostitute, Washburn's personal story remains mysterious. How or why Washburn went to work for Ann Wilson mere days after arriving in Omaha is left unexplained, as is the fact that there is no record of Washburn's marriage. For Washburn, however, The Underground Sewer was not written as a way to clear her name, but to reveal the truth behind prostitution and to gain sympathy and support for the women who lived in the underworld.