Added: January 7, 2017 – Last updated: January 7, 2017


Speaker: Jessica R. Pliley

Title: The FBI's Local White Slavery Corps

Subtitle: The Fight Against Sex Trafficking and the Growth of the Associative State, 1910-1919

Institution: Gilder Lehrman Center for the Study of Slavery, Resistance and Abolition at Yale University

Place: New Haven, Connecticut, United States

Date: March 27, 2013

Language: English

Keywords: Modern History: 20th Century | American History: U.S. History | Prosecution: Police; Types: Forced Prostitution / Sex Trafficking


Link: -


Speaker: Jessica Pliley, Department of History, Texas State University at San Marcos – Speaker's Personal Website,

Abstract: »The 1910 White Slave Traffic Act outlawed taking women over state lines for the purposes of prostitution, debauchery, or “any immoral purpose.” Enforcement of this expansive law fell to the young Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). Drawing upon turn-of-the-century military experiments to monitor prostitutes at the edges of empire—in the Philippians, Puerto Rico, and the Panama Canal Zone—the FBI established a deputized voluntary corps of local white slave officers in cities throughout the country to supervise the mobility of over 30,000 sex workers, transforming the FBI into a truly national agency and providing the foundation for the FBI’s activities during WWI. This paper places the White Slave Traffic Act within a larger context of policing prostitution and sex trafficking, while also examining how the law led to the development of one aspect of the surveillance state. It suggests that scholars of American political development and the growth of the state should consider how Progressive-Era volunteerism provided the bridge between nineteenth-century localism and the spectacular growth of the federal government in the twentieth century.« (Source: Gilder Lehrman Center for the Study of Slavery, Resistance and Abolition)

Wikipedia: History of the Americas: History of the United States / History of the United States (1865–1918) | Police: Federal Bureau of Investigation | Prostitution: Forced Prostitution | Sex and the law: Sex trafficking