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Traffic in Souls


Given the day’s rather bizarre turn here, it seems like a good enough time to remind all of you with Netflix account that Traffic in Souls, the ridiculous 1913 film promoting the white slavery fears dominant in America during these years, is available for streaming. The film follows 2 Swedish sisters just off the boat at Ellis Island. One gets lured into a brothel by an offer of work, the other searches for her. I’m not sure what’s more eye-rolling about the film, the white slavery freak-out of the late Progressive Era or the fact that evidently the woman suckered into the brothel never actually has sex. Were that to have happened, the kidnappers would have beat and drugged her. But you couldn’t show that in 1913. Interestingly though, the scandalous nature of the film subject did cause white slavery to be a banned subject under the Hays Code of 1934.

It’s not really that bad of a film I guess. And it is worth watching for those of you interested in Progressive Era sexuality. However, I wouldn’t exactly take it as a documentary.

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