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Children of Eve

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Like most of you, I spend my Saturday nights watching silent films. Title cards like this one from Children of Eve are one reason.

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It’s almost as if directors from 100 years ago are speaking to me from the grave.

…This title card is followed by a reenactment of the Triangle Fire and subsequent heartbreak.

…If we are strictly comparing the awesomeness of title cards however, this one from The Inside of the White Slave Traffic, from 1913, is hard to beat.

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  • Brett

    What was the deal with the “White Slavery” thing? It sounds like an excuse to go after poor women for something, like prostitution.

    • That was certainly a big part of it. It was used to kill the red light districts and criminalize prostitution in the 1910s. Basically it was the fear that immigrants were luring “white” girls into prostitution, but of course the reality of that was really, really complex. There was a ton of prostitution at the time but the reasons women went into it were as complex as they are today. This kind of complexity did not serve the Progressive mind well and thus you have a white slavery scare

    • djw

      There was also a strong anti-immigrant component to it. The organizations that really pushed the scare to the level of a moral panic from 1910-1913 and managed to get the odious “Mann Act” passed were lead by the so-called “Vigilance organizations,” which advocated for all manner of morals legislation, prohibition, and so on. From a very influential 2010 pamphlet by the president of the Illinois Vigilance Association:

      Unless we make energetic and successful war upon the red light districts and all that pertains to them, we shall have Oriental brothel slavery thrust upon us from China and Japan, and Parisian white slavery, with all its unnatural and abominable practices, established among us by French traders. Jew traders, too, will people our “levees” with Polish Jewesses and any others who make money for them. Shall we defend our American civilization, or lower our flag to the most despicable foreigners—French, Irish, Italians, Jews and Mongolians?

      • Redwood Rhiadra

        I’m hoping that’s a 1910 pamphlet rather than a 2010 one…

  • Daryl Loomis

    Sin in the Second City is a fantastic book that deals with this very subject.

    • efgoldman

      Do you have another brother Daryl?

  • Cheap Wino

    The Inside of the White Slave Traffic is down 32% in popularity this week, according to IMDB. Finally, history is weighing in on this 100-year-old question.

  • c u n d gulag

    Erik,
    Be careful.
    I think you hit on something.

    They probably show those films in MBA programs all around the world!

  • dl

    Bullshit. My great-grandfather also made an authentic white slavery picture with the endorsements of the Honorable Henry J. Dannenbaun, former Assistant U.S. Attorney General, Justice John J. Sullivan, and Justice Edward P. Shortall — he just didn’t make a huge deal about it.

  • LeeEsq

    Why were people in the early 20th century obsessed with “white slaves” stuck in traffic?

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