October 2, 2023

Preservation Thursday: Prostitution in the American West: Brief Notes on a Long History

DEADWOOD – Deadwood History, Inc. and the Deadwood Historic Preservation Commission will host a presentation by Associate Professor of Sociology Dr. Kayla Pritchard at 12:00 p.m. on Thursday, October 19, 2023, at the Homestake Adams Research and Cultural Center (HARCC), 150 Sherman Street, Deadwood. The event is free for members and $5 for non-members. Please feel free to bring your lunch. To become a member and take advantage of these and many more opportunities, memberships can be purchased at or by calling 605-722-4800. Every form of support, whether it is an individual membership or a donation, is deeply appreciated.

History is all about stories. Whose stories do we tell? How do we tell them? How do they shape how we think about the past while also reflecting who we think we are today? Especially when it comes to a topic like prostitution, where the seller is often cast as either a harlot or a victim, how do we tell stories about those individuals who sold sex for a living? In American lore, men went west when gold was discovered to find adventure and seek their fortunes. They saw opportunity for land, wealth, and independence. What we often don’t hear is that women went west for the same reasons, not as wives or daughters, but as fortune seekers themselves. Except the fortune they were seeking wasn’t embedded in veins in mountains but in the pockets of the men who literally struck gold – and they earned their wages by selling sex. Women and sex work were an integral part of how the American West was built.

Kayla Pritchard holds a Ph.D. in Sociology from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln with a specialization in Women’s and Gender Studies. She is currently an associate professor of sociology at South Dakota Mines in Rapid City. Pritchard is fascinated by all topics related to sex, sexuality, and gender, especially across historical and cultural contexts. Her published work includes papers on women’s experiences in motherhood and identities as mothers, included through pregnancy loss, as well as papers on how women navigate their roles as both biological and stepmothers. When not working, she enjoys hiking and ATVing in the Black Hills with her family. Preservation Thursday is made possible by the Deadwood Historic Preservation Commission, Deadwood History, Inc., Adams-Mastrovich Family Foundation, Deadwood Chamber & Visitors Bureau, and the Black Hills Pioneer.


Deadwood History, Inc. preserves and presents the history of Deadwood and the Black Hills through exceptional places, interactive exhibits, and engaging events.

Adams Museum, Days of '76 Museum, Historic Adams House, Homestake Adams Research and Cultural Center (HARCC), and The Brothel Deadwood.

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