Meet the Past: what would you ask Annie Chambers?

Annie Chambers

Click on "Add a new comment" to pose a question to Annie Chambers, Kansas City's most well-known brothel proprietor. If your question is chosen, Library Director Crosby Kemper III will ask it on your behalf.

Some small business owners

Some small business owners might say you created jobs opportunities for the unskilled and untrained--others might say you exploited poor members of your own sex. Which was it?

Is it fair to say that the

Is it fair to say that the secret of your success is practicing the business philosophy that the customer always comes first?

harmless vice ?

Do you consider the world's oldest profession merely a harmless vice and a victimless crime or do you think prostitution, like illegal drugs, always leads to more serious crime?

Career Choices

You were so much better educated than the majority of women in your era, so why did you choose prostitution (which put you outside societal norms) when you could have been a teacher or governess? Was it because, like undertakers, you knew there would always be a market for your services?


At your establishment, did you offer any other forms of entertainment for patrons, like music, maybe a piano player, jazz or blues combo?

Personnel matters

How did you go about recruiting and training the "personnel" who worked for you in your establishment? How much was the average earnings per week and did you offer them any type of benefits (like any sort of retirement fund)?

The Cost of Doing Business

Since a police raid on your first house closed you down and led you to Missouri (and why KC, not St. Louis?), did you have to bribe police here to keep your establishment open? How much? And did you have to contribute monetarily to show support for certain public, political figures and if so, whom?

Who was your most prominent

Who was your most prominent client?


Out of all of the things you could have done, why open a brothel?

"Who's Who" of Clients

Not to encourage kiss-and-tell revelations, but can you tell us who were the Who's Who of notable Kansas Citians who may have frequented your establishment (strictly to enjoy a drink or talk business in a relaxing environment, of course)?

Kansas City Public Library Beta