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Sex Workers, Psychics, and Numbers Runners – Black Women in New York City's Underground Economy - Illinois Scholarship Online
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Sex Workers, Psychics, and Numbers Runners: Black Women in New York City's Underground Economy

LaShawn Harris


During the early twentieth century, a diverse group of African American women carved out unique niches for themselves within New York City's expansive informal economy. This book illuminates the labor patterns and economic activity of three perennials within this kaleidoscope of underground industry: sex work, numbers running for gambling enterprises, and the supernatural consulting business. Mining police and prison records, newspaper accounts, and period literature, the book teases out answers to essential questions about these women and their working lives. It also offers a surprising revel ... More

Keywords: African American women, sex work, gambling, underground economy, working class, black women, labor autonomy, labor mobility

Bibliographic Information

Print publication date: 2016 Print ISBN-13: 9780252040207
Published to Illinois Scholarship Online: April 2017 DOI:10.5406/illinois/9780252040207.001.0001


Affiliations are at time of print publication.

LaShawn Harris, author
Michigan State University