Preferred Name

Tiffany Nelson

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.

Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Department of History


Emily M. Westkaemper

Steven Reich

Raymond Hyser


In 1897, the red-light district of Storyville was officially consecrated in New Orleans, Louisiana. Storyville encapsulated centuries’ worth of Southern cultural, social, and political values that culminated in the creation of a legally recognized district of vice. New Orleans was an economically situated city, profiting from the business and tourist routes provided by the Gulf of Mexico and Mississippi River. Known throughout the nation for a plethora of negative attributes, such as disease, prostitution, and murder, New Orleans developed a national reputation as a city of immorality, which was only furthered by the creation of a red-light district.

In exploring the city’s history of media fascination, murder cases, and notable women in the district, this thesis argues that Storyville was both created and destroyed due to the collision of moral reform and vice in the city of New Orleans. Specifically, the thesis focuses on the experience of three key women within New Orleans’ culture of vice and how their positions and identities effected the development, growth, and destruction of Storyville over a fifty year period. Kate Townsend, Lulu White, and Willie Piazza are the three key figures discussed in this thesis, specifically how the concepts of race, gender, power, and morality interact with their positions within New Orleans and Storyville. Each of these women possessed power within Storyville that affected their public perception and the overall perception of the red-light district throughout its existence.



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