From the 1930’s through the 1960’s Bowling Green Kentucky was home to one of the longest operating brothels in the history of the United States. Initially located in a small colonial-style house on Smallhouse Road, the business was opened in 1933 by Pauline Tabor, a divorced mother of two, who had been struggling to make ends meet during the Depression. In the 1940’s, the brothel was moved to a red brick house located at 627 Clay Street, where it managed to stay in business until 1968. Pauline Tabor is regarded by historians as an adroit businesswoman who was generous with her workers and who gave generously to charities and the local community.
In 1971, Tabor published her autobiography, Pauline’s: Memoirs of the Madam on Clay Street, which details her life story and experiences as a madam of the longest running brothel in the United States. The memoir also features photographs, portraits, and illustrations by jazz album cover artist David Stone Martin.
WKU’s Department of Library Special Collections recently acquired a limited edition copy of Pauline’s, which is numbered and signed by the author. This deluxe copy was gifted by Lillian Levy of Prospect, Kentucky, and is bound in red plush velvet with gold edges and has a gold locket clasp. Special Collections also has an additional velvet copy bound with blank pages, which was likely intended to be used as a diary or journal. Both are accompanied by their own keys.