Term of Award

Spring 2011

Degree Name

Master of Arts in History (M.A.)

Document Type and Release Option

Thesis (open access)

Copyright Statement / License for Reuse

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.


Department of History

Committee Chair

Craig Roell

Committee Member 1

Michelle Haberland

Committee Member 2

Sue Moore


The adult entertainment industry as modern mankind knows it began to from at the end of the Victorian age, a time where America also happened to become a major international power for the first time. The history of the adult entertainment industries from 1900 till today can almost be seen as a history of amazing business savvy, moral battles and classic T and A. No one book or one story would capture all the jobs and products that fall under the heading of adult entertainment. But the adult entertainment industry is made of up of people and business that have endured, through recession and depressions, and reform movements outlining what was popular with each decade, as well as legal and technological changes of the time. This includes sexual health in the United States. The sex trade, print or film or actual sex worker, has influenced many aspects of American life from technology, advertising, fashion and business models. The adult industry is made up of more than pay-per-view movies and sex toys. The adult industry includes video and DVD products as well as Internet materials, printed media books, magazines, sex tourism and fetish paraphernalia as well a brothel industry. The United States came into its own in terms of the sex industry at the same time the nation first really stepped on to the world's stage, becoming part of the international industrial revolution. The sex industry has always been tied to technological advances in the United States, from 1900 till 2000 adult entertainment changes drastically in the United States. This thesis analyzes what was in vogue in each decade, focusing on similarities and differences, and how technology, poverty, legalities and times of war affected adult entertainment in context of the larger American history. Yet the adult entertainment industry endured- a remarkable skill that should be studied as an integral part of history.

Research Data and Supplementary Material