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William I. Goldman’s Secret Portraits from an 1800s Pennsylvania Brothel

William I. Goldman

William I. Goldman (1856 – 1922) was a freemason, photographer, and so-called “pillar of the community” in Reading, Pennsylvania in the late 1800s. From his studio on Penn Street, Goldman was a pioneer of the new technology and portraiture. At the same time, he was collecting portraits of the women who worked out of Sal Shearer’s brothel. He hid away these portraits of prostitutes, which in 1892 would have been considered beyond shocking in the states. They weren’t unearthed until 2010, and 100 years after his death we can see these beautiful portraits of women who were most likely forced by life circumstances to sell themselves to men. They had no idea that these images would be shared globally more than a century later, immortalizing them in a Reading brothel. Goldman’s full collection is available as a hardcover book here, and you can check out some of the more SFW ones here:

See more of from this collection here.

Written By

Meghan MacRae grew up in Vancouver, Canada, but spent many years living in the remote woods. Living in the shadow of grizzly bears, cougars and the other predators of the wilderness taught her about the dark side of nature, and taught her to accept her place in nature's order as their prey. She is co-founder of CVLT Nation.

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