Following Comstock's preoccupation, the few studies to address The Days' Doings have, for the most part, focused on its backpage ads. But the paper's contents, and especially the engravings that graced every other page spread, are of equal importance. Amid theater scandals, demimonde reportage, sporting news, crime coverage, and the predictable hazards of everyday life (such as accidents, disasters, pickpockets, and stray dogs), women were a focal point of coverage. In the pages of Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper the repertoire of female behavior and roles was limited, dividing women into two broad categories: the illustrious and anonymous. The illustrious comprised singular figures who had broken into male professions; the anonymous were further subdivided into dangerous women (for example, prostitutes) and, when innocently or foolishly straying beyond the safety of the home or supervised public venue, endangered women. These categories also held true for The Days' Doings, but the illustrious women in the realm of the solely or largely male reader took on the sexual frisson of notoriety: inhabiting male positions suggested impropriety bordering on promiscuity. [8] And dangerous and even endangered women offered readers a tantalizing visual eyeful of transgression.
     Regarding the latter, cautionary reform-minded articles delineated fashions and mores hazardous to respectable women, which in turn translated visually into titillating displays. A lengthy August 1868 report on “The Modern Methods of Intoxication” investigated the ways “a large portion of . . . our citizens is devoted to the theory and practice of stimulation, inebriation, and intoxication.” Although opium, ether, and other “rivals of alcohol” also were discussed, it was the fashionable feminine use of Hashish that merited the article’s one anecdotal description and accompanying illustration (Figure 4):

Figure 4. “Modern methods of intoxication.—‘A hasheesh party’ in the City of New York—
Young ladies ‘under the effect’ of a preparation of Indian hemp.” Wood engraving based
on a sketch by Joseph B. Beale, The Days’ Doings, August 8, 1868, 168.

  The wife of a leading editor of this city is reported to be a confirmed hasheesh eater, and to have recently given a hasheesh dinner at her private residence to a number of lady friends, devotees, like herself to the drug. Subsequent to the dinner, the guests were discovered in all varieties of conceivable and recumbent attitudes, under the influence of the deliciously-dreamily-dangerous preparation. [9]

  Fueled by gossip, framed as “slaves of hasheesh,” and pictured in supine and available positions, at least two of the women in postures reminiscent of intercourse, a reform message became a vehicle for titillation.
      Class—not to mention ethnicity and race—would tell, however, and a picture published two months later offered a similar tableau but with a decided turn from endangerment to dangerousness (Figure 5). Depicting an incident in a Sixth Ward tenement, the engraving captured the moment when several unemployed Irish women moved from “a frolic with cheap whiskey” to “a drunken row, in the course of which one of their number was beaten insensible and fell on the floor, subsequently dying of her injuries, while the rest continued their quarrel over her prostrate form. . .” Despite the bemoaning of alcohol and the harsher physiognomies and message about immigrant working women (“Irishwomen must certainly have curious ideas as to the nature of enjoyment”), the cautionary tale of degradation in this circumstance was trumped by its representation of wantonness and the taboo of physical violence between women. [10]

Figure 5. “An Irish ‘shindy.’—A fatal frolic.” Wood engraving, The Days’ Doings,
October 10, 1868, 297.
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[8] The best example of this was in The Days’ Doings’ coverage of the Wall Street brokerage firm established by Victoria Woodhull and Tennessee Claflin: “The female brokers of the period.—The gorgeous establishment of Woodhull, Claflin & Co., 44 Broad Street, N.Y.—The financiers, Mrs. Victoria Woodhull and Mrs. Tennie C. Claflin at work in their private office,” DD, February 26, 1870; “The female brokers of the period.—The telegraphic apparatus at the establishment of Woodhull, Claflin & Co., 44 Broad Street, New York,” ibid. See Amanda Frisken, “Tabloid Representations of Victoria Woodhull: The Days’ Doings, 1870-72,” paper presented at the Bowery Seminar, The Cooper Union, New York, March 1997. After Leslie bargained his way out of the New York indictment, Woodhull was among the sensational subjects that disappeared from the pages of the weekly. BACK

[9] “The Modern Methods of Intoxication,” DD, August 15, 1868; “Modern methods of intoxication.—‘A hasheesh party’ in the City of New York--Young ladies ‘under the effect’ of a preparation of Indian hemp,” ibid. BACK

[10] “An Irish ‘Shindy.’—A fatal frolic,” DD, October 10, 1868. BACK

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