Prostitution in York busted during World War II

Prostitution in York has made big type of front pages for years.

No time was prostitution in York a bigger problem than during World War II.

Venereal disease outbreaks near military bases and defense plants presented problems on an international scale before and during the war. York County was well supplied with both bases and plants, men away from home and ample women ready to ply the world’s oldest profession.

Officials saw a crisis brewing with serious downstream effects: Venereal disease was causing absences in defense plants and military camps, thus hindering the war effort.

In York County, prostitution was taking a different, younger, twist… .


In an October 1941 raid of 11 bawdy houses, two male and nine female operators and five prostitutes were nabbed. They were held overnight in jail for physical exams.

We pick up here from my York County WWII book “In the thick of the fight:”

“Police revealed the raid came after reports that two 12-year-old girls and a 15-year-old girl were schooled in sexual practices by prostitutes and left to wander the streets to solicit sex.
“This led to the call for a trained city policewoman.
“The ages of the girls played on Netta Ford’s greatest fears. The Visiting Nurse Association official had attended a conference in Philadelphia that pointed to ‘glamour girls,’ 12 to 17 years in age, as a principal source of venereal disease infections.
“The professional prostitutes were not the problem, she said. Additional women police officers and public health education could help.”

During this world war when America faced a clouded future, no one could dare make the argument that prostitution was a victimless crime.

Also of interest: Conewago crossing near Manchester a hot spot, literally, for years.

About Jim McClure

Editor of the York Daily Record/Sunday News, ydr.com and its many digital products. East Region Editor, Digital First Media. Journalism/history blogger: yorktownsquare.com. Author or co-author of seven York County, Pa., history books.
This entry was posted in Archives, all posts, Books & reading, Events, Explanations/controversy, Local journalism & Web, War, World War II. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Prostitution in York busted during World War II

  1. Mike Beshore says:

    Their Motto: “It’s a business doing pleasure with you “

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