Melvina Massey: Fargo's Most Famous Madam

Author(s): Angela J. Smith

Year: 2016


In my work as a professor and public historian, research material often unfolds from teaching. In my Spring 2013 Introduction to Museum Studies class at North Dakota State University, students conducting primary source research on early Fargo discovered a will and probate records for Melvina Massey. The records show that she was an African American and ran a brothel in Fargo for more than 20 years. The course concluded with an exhibit, "Taboo: Fargo-Moorhead, An Unmentioned History," and one of the five panels was devoted to Massey. In my Fall 2013 Digital History course, I delved deeper into this story and produced a documentary titled "Prostitution and Fargo’s Most Famous Madam." Still intrigued by this interesting woman and her unexpected story, I moved beyond the initial research. In this session I will talk about the continued research, gis integration of primary sources, and collaboration with historical archeologists.

Cite this Record

Melvina Massey: Fargo's Most Famous Madam. Angela J. Smith. Presented at Society for Historical Archaeology, Washington, D.C. 2016 ( tDAR id: 434962)


Temporal Keywords

Spatial Coverage

min long: -129.199; min lat: 24.495 ; max long: -66.973; max lat: 49.359 ;

Individual & Institutional Roles

Contact(s): Society for Historical Archaeology

Record Identifiers

PaperId(s): 532