Save the Womanhood!

BookSave the Womanhood!

Save the Womanhood!

Vice, urban immorality and social control in Liverpool, c. 1900-1976


April 16th, 2018


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An Open Access edition of this book is available on the Liverpool University Press website and through Knowledge Unlatched.

Save the Womanhood
is a fascinating new history about promiscuity, prostitution and the efforts of local social purists to ‘save’ working-class women from themselves. The book examines how the work of the Liverpool Vigilance Association was supplemented by others, such as the Women Police Patrols, the Liverpool House of Help and the local branch of the Catholic Women’s League. It argues that though these organizations helped many lost and stranded women, their work also enacted a form of moral surveillance on the streets. As such, the book uncovers how important twentieth-century anxieties about changing sexual practices, female immigration, white slavery and the rise of new consumer cultures played out at local level and with what consequences for women in Liverpool. The book also brings together a wide range of local and national sources to show that when female-run, local organizations concerned about immorality went into decline in the post-war years, it was because official institutions and local law enforcement had increasingly taken up their cause. Consequently, Save the Womanhood argues that young, working-class women who travelled through Liverpool in search of work and adventure continued to arouse moral anxiety even as the city’s social purists battled to maintain their influence.


'A fascinating book with rich, insightful material.'
Dr Charlotte Wildman, University of Manchester

‘This is a very well-written, focused and insightful analysis.’
Helen Glew, Cercles

'Samantha Caslin... presents a compelling insight into the work of social purity and moral welfare groups in Liverpool during the twentieth century... This is an insightful and valuable addition to the field of study concerned with the sexual and moral policing of working-class women.'Sarah Watson, HSLC

Author Information

Samantha Caslin is a Lecturer in History at the University of Liverpool.

Table of Contents

Table of Contents
Section TitlePagePrice
List of Figures6
List of Abbreviations9
1. Experts in Womanhood: Morality and Social Order Before and During the First World War24
2. Patrolling the Port: Interwar Moral Surveillance51
3. Regulating Interwar Prostitution: National Debates and Local Issues72
4. Finding Respectable Work for Women in Interwar Liverpool95
5. White Slavery and Social Purists’ Authority116
6. Female ‘Traffickers’ and Urban Danger135
7. Irish Girls in Liverpool (1): Interwar Moral Concerns155
8. Irish Girls in Liverpool (2): The Second World War and the Post-War Years172
9. A Changing of the Guard: Moral Order, Gender and Urban Space in the Post-War Years193