Women of the Klondike Gold Rush — More Than a Pretty Face


Gwen Tuinman

University of Washington Libraries. Special Collections Division

The very mention of the Klondike Gold Rush conjures images of snowy mountain tops, babbling brooks,  burly unshaven men. and robust women– the kind you don’t take home to mother.

There is no denying that prostitution played a role in Yukon. On the infamous Paradise Alley alone, there were seventy small cabins, each housing a different call-girl. Many of these women had fallen prey to charismatic pimps who persuaded them across the Chilkoot Pass. In the end, they were little more than white slaves.

If not plying the oldest profession to a bountiful and captive clientele, what might attract a woman to the Klondike Gold Rush?

Some wanted to escape the confines of Victorian expectations.  In the Klondike, a woman could dress like a man and do the work of a man without judgment. At home, only financially destitute women sought employment. They were funneled into mindless factory jobs that required…

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2 thoughts on “Women of the Klondike Gold Rush — More Than a Pretty Face

  1. I am always fascinated by the perseverance of our forbearers in the face of such adversity. Popular media often shares a narrow view of women’s role in the Klondike so I thought it would be interesting to explore women who existed outside the saloon. Thank you for sharing my writing with your readers.

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