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Storyville & Red Light Reading List

We wanted to create a list for guests of our Killer Theater murder mysteries, and our Badly Behaved Women Who Made New Orleans Tour, in case they wanted to learn more about this incredible, scandalous history.

Storyville by Al Rose

The comprehensive collection of Storyville info and pictures. The story of the red light district, its stars, its history and precursors, the newspapers’ obsession with it, and much more. Written in the 1970s, it is still the best overall work on "The District".

Empire of Sin by Gary Krist

This fun history book center on Tom Anderson, the “mayor of Storyville,” a pimp extraordinaire and state senator who practically ran Storyville.

New Orleans in the Gilded Age by Joy J. Jackson

An overview of how filthy politics were in New Orleans in the 1890s and beyond.

The Last Madam by Christine Wiltz

Norma Wallace’s incredible story is a page-turner of cat-and-mouse games with the cops (some of whom are her informants and lovers) in the age of the “tango belt” when prostitution was illegal again.

French Quarter: An Informal History of the New Orleans Underworld

This very entertaining book goes one topic or incident per chapter into vice, gambling, and other downright criminal behavior in New Orleans, from the earliest days, up to the present.

The story of the banishment of women from French prisons to the colonies, many innocent of any crime. The incredible strength and ingenuity of these women are an inspiration.

A New Orleans Voudou Priestess: The Legend and Reality of Marie Laveau by Carolyn Morrow Long

This book unravels the myth of the Voudou Queen to an almost maddening degree. Sure, she was a hairdresser, nurse, healer, cult leader, crime lord, Robin Hood, one-woman underground railroad, and ran an elite private brothel, but who was she really? We have no idea. It's scholarly and somewhat frustrating, but by far the most accurate and informative book, when most are pure myth. Long traces where those myths originated in this book.

Not related to the these events, but also fun:

Fleur de Lys and Calumet

Andre' Penicaut’s narrative of an early French voyage up, and back down, the Mississippi. Future French Governor Bienville takes psychedelics with a native chief and undergoes a ritual, and smokes a lot of tobacco with different chiefs. They wage brutal battles, witness human sacrifice, and more. Written by the ship's carpenter, the tone is more honest and direct than most historical accounts of the time.

Looking for a New Orleans history book? Support a great local New Orleans bookstore like Blue Cypress Books!

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