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Policing Sex in the Sunflower State


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About the Author

Nicole Perry is assistant director, Center for Undergraduate Research, University of Kansas.


[This book] will be of significant value to scholars of not only sexuality but also race, class, disability, the carceral state, the environment, public health, eugenics, Progressive Era reform and more.--H-Net Reviews
Policing Sex in the Sunflower State shows how patients became prisoners in Kansas as wartime venereal disease control measures shaped peacetime public health policies. Drawing on a unique source base of thousands of intake records, Perry demonstrates the diversity of experience that brought women to the Kansas State Industrial Farm for Women while finding common threads of poverty, sexual victimization, and gender discrimination. With a close look at the women who advocated for and staffed the facility, Perry explores the mixed legacy of Progressive Era women's activism and the complicated role of women professionals. Chilling stories of women who traded freedom for medical treatment and reminders of how disease amplifies all kinds of social inequalities make this an important book for today's world.--Pippa Holloway, Douglas Southall Freeman Chair in History, University of Richmond

Nicole Perry provides a detailed, meticulously researched, and well-argued assessment of the creation of the Kansas State Industrial Farm for Women (KSIFW) and its operation during the 1920s and 1930s. Through this close examination of the KSIFW, Perry shows the powerful and sometimes life-changing consequences of the coming together of Progressive Era efforts to 'reform' working-class women, eugenics, and efforts by both the federal government and the states to contain the spread of venereal disease through a moralizing sexual double standard that held women accountable, and ultimately punishable, for its spread. Perry skillfully engages with multiple and often competing perceptions of the KSIFW while also acknowledging the real restraints historians encounter when using institutional documents to gain insight into the lived experiences of working-class inmates.--Michael Rembis, associate professor of history and director of the Center for Disability Studies, University at Buffalo (SUNY), author of Defining Deviance: Sex, Science, and Delinquent Girls, 1890-1960, and coeditor of The Oxford Handbook of Disability History Nicole Perry's Policing Sex in the Sunflower State offers a fascinating and timely look at the expansive power of state governments to quarantine individuals for the health of the public. Examining the impacts of venereal disease legislation passed during World War I, Perry's work details the use of such legislation to enforce a moral vision. In doing so it offers important insights into the potentially complex relationship among state power, morality, and gender.--Daniel Sledge, author of Health Divided: Public Health and Individual Medicine in the Making of the Modern American State

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