Mann Act criminalized men's sexual activity

In 1910, the Mann Act criminalized persuading or helping any woman to cross state lines “for the purpose of prostitution or debauchery, or for any other immoral purpose.” Conviction under a Mann Act charge carried punishment of up to five years imprisonment and a fine of up to $5000.[1]  U.S. courts interpreted the Mann Act’s description of purpose to encompass a man seeking to have sex with any woman other than his wife.  Intending to have sex with a woman, but not actually having sex with her, was sufficient for conviction under the Mann Act.  Whether the woman voluntarily engaged in sex was irrelevant under the Mann Act.[2]  A Mann Act violation was typically charged against only the man, and not the woman, in a consensual, non-commercial sexual affair.  The Mann Act’s name literally indicates its concern.  The Mann Act primarily criminalized men for sexual activity with women.

The Mann Act was biased against men from prosecution to imprisonment.  In the Pacific Northwest from 1910 to 1930, an estimated 532 men, and only 15 women, were prosecuted under the Mann Act for interstate non-commercial heterosexual affairs.  Nation-wide from 1927 to 1937, an estimated 2988 men were imprisoned for Mann Act convictions, while only 41 women were. Men imprisoned under the Mann Act on average received longer sentences of imprisonment than women did.  In the Pacific Northwest from 1910 to 1930, men sentenced to imprisonment under the Mann Act averaged a sentence of 17.5 months, while women averaged 15 months.[3]  Because women were charged in more aggravated cases than men, that difference in average sentence length underestimates the gender bias in sentencing.  For  example, a man and a woman having an affair in 1931 traveled together from their homes in Pennsylvania to West Virginia, where they stayed in the same hotel room.  Convicted under the Mann Act, the man received a 30-month prison sentence, and the woman, an 18-month sentence.[4]  In another case, an unmarried couple traveled together from Pennsylvania to Alabama in 1934.  Convicted under the Mann Act, the man received six months imprisonment, and the woman received probation.[5]

Legal scholars have downplayed the effect of the Mann Act on men and highlighted its effect on women.  In 2008, a law professor’s short note “Sex, Corruption, Federalism, & the Mann Act” exclaimed:

The defendant {in Mann Act cases} was frequently the woman who, when she drove the car, was indicted as a co-conspirator in transporting herself across state lines for immoral purposes!

That claim is highly misleading.  Probably less than 4% of Mann Act defendants were women charged as co-conspirators for transporting themselves.[6]  That claim is also not relevant to the substantive point of the author’s note, although it may have served to enhance the author’s standing among his peers.  Written by a man, the leading scholarly monograph on the Mann Act declares:

One of the ironies of the Mann Act’s evolution is that women, as the protected class of the statute, in fact became its chief victims. … The statute distinctly inhibited women from taking trips with their male friends.  It not only deprived women of opportunities for vacation and travel but effectively prevented women from using the vehicle of interstate travel as a method of expressing their own sexuality.  Women were deprived of a fundamental human activity which caused no harm to anybody.  They were also subjected to a double standard, since males could travel in interstate commerce to meet women, but no couple without fear of prosecution could allow the woman to similarly travel to meet the male.[7]

The pairing of the nouns “woman” and “male” emphasizes that men comprise a relatively bestial gender.  These sophistical arguments about the greater victimization of women, placed against the punishing reality of the Mann Act, indicate men’s keen interest in publicly showing concern for women’s welfare.[8]

imprisoned white slave girl, impetus for passage of the Mann Act

Sensational public concern about “white-slave trade” in women motivated the passage of the Mann Act in 1910.  Women from rural areas and from foreign countries — France, Germany, Italy, China, Japan, and others — were allegedly duped and forced into involuntary servitude as prostitutes.  Once captured, they were allegedly bought and sold like black slaves had been.  Leaders in the fight against the white-slave trade greatly exploited sexual and racial biases.  For example, a book published in 1910 was entitled Fighting the Traffic in Young Girls or War on the White Slave Trade. The title page sensationally advertised:

Showing the workings of the blackest slavery that has ever stained the human race.

The book included essays on white slavery from persons in the following positions:

  • United States District Attorney, Chicago
  • Assistant United States District Attorney, Chicago
  • Assistant State’s Attorney, Cook County, Ill.
  • Secretary of the National Vigilance Association, London, England
  • Member of the National Vigilance Committee, New York
  • President of the National Florence Crittenton Mission
  • Superintendent of the Illinois Training School for Girls
  • Missionary of the Moody Church, Chicago
  • Deaconess of the Methodist Episcopal Church, Chicago
  • Principal, Red Water Institute, Red Water, Texas
  • Professor at Rush Medical College, Chicago
  • Professor at Northwestern University Medical School, Chicago
  • Pastor of the Lexington Avenue Baptist Church, Chicago [9]

In that book, the United States District Attorney in Chicago warned rural girls coming to Chicago:

One thing should be made very clear to the girl who comes up to the city, and that is that the ordinary ice cream parlor is very likely to be a spider’s web for her entanglement.  This is perhaps especially true of those ice cream saloons and fruit stores kept by foreigners.  Scores of cases are on record where young girls have taken their first step towards “white slavery” in places of this character. [10]

Interest in theater, the Assistant State’s Attorney explained, was also a common path into white slavery:

The most worked method of securing the confidence by appealing to the ambition of the girl is by the stage or theatrical route. It is because so many girls are “stage struck” now-a-days that this method has been worked most successfully. Perhaps of all the cases that have been tried in nearly the last three years in Chicago, the girls who have been procured by inducements to go upon the stage outnumber all others. The slave trader represents himself as the agent of some theatrical manager, or perhaps as the manager himself. Going to a factory town, for example, he makes it his business to meet some girl who is working there who he has learned is “stage struck.” After the formalities of an introduction, which he secures in one way or another, he leads up to the subject by telling that he is a theatrical man and is looking for new recruits.

The girl is at once interested. She is naturally ambitious. She wants to better her condition in life. She doesn’t suspect that a fiend with the heart of a devil is masquerading before her as the agent of some theatrical manager. He explains to her that if she will accompany him she can make from $15 to $20 a week at the very start and in a year she will be playing a part, and a year or so later she will possibly be leading lady. The picture is an alluring one to this young girl, for she is now making only perhaps $4, $5 or $6 a week, and the thought of securing such a large salary at the very start almost sweeps her off her feet. She is entranced by the beautiful picture that has been painted and she goes, perhaps to a stage from which she will never return. [11]

The old white men who made up the political and intellectual elite vigorously expressed concern about young white girls being turned into sex slaves.  A New York Times editorial in 1909 declared:

In his belief that the white slave trade is a great as well as monstrous evil, President Taft has the support of all the commissions and individuals who have given the matter examination at once honest and careful. The denials come partly from people who are loath to admit that such things can be going on in modern communities pretending to be civilized, and partly from those who profit directly or indirectly, by the abhorrent traffic. [12]

That position recognized no room for honest, reasoned, public-spirited judgment that “white-slave trade” was rare, not systematic.  Some persons nonetheless evidently persisted in denial.  In early 1910, the New York Times headlined its front page, “White Slave Traffic Shown to Be Real.”  The article reported on a press conference in which the District Attorney declared that a “light mulatto” woman and a “colored man,” as well as a man with a typically Jewish last name, had been arrested in conjunction with the sale of two white girls (“white slaves”), ages 17 and 18.[13]  These white slaves subsequently testified that they were ages 25 and 23, and had voluntarily accepted money to travel to Seattle to work there as prostitutes.[14]  That was probably the sort of transaction typically associated with the movement of prostitutes.[15]

White slavery was a successful fictional and non-fictional, multi-media theme.  John Marvel, Assistant (1909), The House of Bondage (1910), The Rose Door (1913) and other novels exploited the theme, as did the 1913 Broadway plays, The Lure and The  Flight.  A formally non-fictional white-slavery genre was “books filled with lurid case studies and grossly distorted real events combined with chapters contributed by public officials and social workers.” Such works included Fighting the Traffic in Young Girls or War on the White Slave Trade (1910),  The great war on white slavery, or fighting for the protection of our girls (1911), Chicago’s Black Traffic in White Girls (1912), and Canada’s War on the White Slave Trade (1912).  White slavery also made fictional and documentary movies such as The Fatal Hour (1908), Traffic in Souls (1913), The Inside of the White Slave Trade (1913), House of Bondage (1914) (a film version of the book by that name), The Little Girl Next Door (1916), and Is Any Girl Safe? (1916).[16] The New York Times, perhaps concerned to strengthen its reputation for non-fictional stories, changed its position and declared that an organized white slave industry didn’t exist:

By July 1914 it {the New York Times} declared “sensational magazine articles had created a belief in the existence of a great interstate ‘white slave’ trust.  No such trust exists, nor is there any organized white slave industry anywhere.”  By 1916 it referred to the “myth of an international and interstate ‘syndicate’ trafficking in women” as merely “a figment of imaginative fly-gobblers.” [17]

That change in position hardly mattered.  White slavery had too much support in real sexual and racial biases to be regarded as largely fictional.

The racial bias supporting concern about white slavery is more widely recognized today than the sexual bias.  The Mann Act entitled itself the White Slave Traffic Act.[18]  Congress passed the Mann Act in 1910.  In 1920, the Nineteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution extended women’s right to vote uniformly across all jurisdictions and all elections.  The Mann Act nearly always in application assigned men sole criminal responsibility for a consensual interstate heterosexual affair.[19]  When women gained equal voting rights, they did not also gain equal criminal responsibility.  The Mann Act continued essentially unchanged until 1986.  Amendments in 1986 removed the sexist language and limited the application of the Act to activities that were criminal under state law.[20]  Those amendments did not signal the end to the sexual bias underlying the White Slave Traffic Act, also fittingly known as the Mann Act.  Men and women are much more likely to express publicly concern about women’s welfare than about men’s welfare.

*  *  *  *  *

Read more:

Data: Statistics on Mann Act cases (Excel version)


[1] Here’s the text of the Mann Act.

[2] Caminetti v. United States, 242 US 470 (1917), clarified that the Mann Act applied to non-commercial consensual sex.  Even prior to that decision, Mann Act convictions included buying a railroad ticket for a seventeen-year old girl/woman to travel from Atlanta to Florida to work in a theater associated with debauchery.  See Athanasaw v. United States, 227 US 326 (1913).  The Mann Act, Section 3, encompassed:

any person who shall knowingly persuade, induce, entice, or coerce, or cause to be persuaded, induced, enticed, or coerced, or aid or assist in persuading, inducing, enticing or coercing any woman or girl … with the intent and purpose on the part of such person that such woman or girl shall engage in the practice of prostitution or debauchery, or any other immoral practice, whether with or without her consent

The Mann Act thus criminalized sexual intent, as well as sexual practice.

[3] For statistical details and sources, see Mann Act statistics workbook.

[4] Beckman (1984) p. 1127 (case of Elizabeth and Russell).

[5] Langum (1994) pp. 1-2 (case of Eleanor Becker and Maurice Shannon).

[6] United States v. Holte, 236 US 140 (1915), affirmed that Clara Holte, a 41-year-old married woman, could be charged as a co-conspirator in violation of the Mann Act for traveling with a man across state lines to engage in adultery.  Gebardi v. United States, 287 US 112 (1932), greatly narrowed the applicability of Holte.  After Gebardi, the U.S. Attorney General directed U.S. Attorneys not to bring Mann Act cases against women in noncommercial (non-prostitution) circumstances.  Beckman (1984) p. 1127.  An estimated 8% of Mann Act cases, 1927-1937, had female defendants. In the Pacific Northwest from 1910 to 1930, 2.7% of Mann Act cases had female defendants.  Women were charged as co-conspirators only in non-commercial cases.  Non-commercial cases with female defendants probably amounted to no more than half of total cases with female defendants.  For data, see Mann Act statistics workbook.

[7] Langum (1994) pp. 10-11.  Ch. 4., id., is devoted to the issue of blackmailing men with the threat of exposure to a Mann Act prosecution.  Such blackmail was widely regarded as a serious problem.  The conclusion returns to expressing particular concern about women:

In the area of noncommercial sexual expression, and particularly as regards women, the intended beneficiaries of the Act, this majoritarian morality profoundly oppressed those whose harmless conduct did not conform.

Id. p. 259.  The next paragraph, referring to consequences of the Mann Act, makes no specific reference to men or males, but does refer to consequences “such as … repression of female sexuality.”  Id.

[8] The effect does not seem to be sexually symmetric.  Beckman (1984), an article by a woman author, provides detailed data on women imprisoned under the Mann Act.  No such data exist for men.  McCoy, another woman author,  in McCoy (2010), p. 10, declares:

Men imprisoned for interstate affairs while their mistresses faced no consequences may be viewed as victims of the overzealous enforcement of this law.  But their abandoned families—left to fend for themselves while the men served their sentences—may have been the ones who suffered the most.

Not seeing direct harm to men as a compelling social concern and emphasizing the effects of harm to men on their instrumental value to others supports social devaluation of men as intrinsically valued persons.

[9] Bell (1910), title page.

[10] Id. p. 71, from Ch. IV, Edwin W. Sims, United States District Attorney, Chicago, “Menace of the White Slave Trade.”

[11] Id. pp. 165-6, from Ch. XII, Clifford G. Roe, Assistant State’s Attorney of Cook County, Illinois, “The Auctioneer of Souls.”  Roe’s story itself is quite theatrical.  In mid-nineteenth-century America, respected authorities considered theaters to be a leading source of crime.

[12] Editorial, “There is a White Slave Trade,” New York Times, Dec. 9, 1909, p. 10.

[13] “White Slave Traffic Shown to be Real,” New York Times, Apr. 30, 1910.

[14] “Belle Moore Guilty of Selling Girls,” New York Times, May 20, 1910.  The transcript of the Belle Moore case is available online.

[15] Chicago was an epicenter of concern about white slavery.  A study of white-slave prosecutions in Chicago from 1910 to 1913 found that less than 5% of cases involved a woman held against her will.  Langum (1994) p. 35 judges that figure to be “as close to the truth as we can come.” The share of women held against their will in prostitution within the total population of female prostitutes would be much smaller.

[16] Examples from Langum (1994) pp. 33-4.

[17] Id. p. 33.

[18] The name “Mann Act” arose from the name of the Act’s sponsor, Congressman James R. Mann from Chicago.  Sec. 8 of the Act declared:

That this Act shall be known and referred to as the “White-slave traffic Act.”

That latter name is typically standardized to the White Slave Traffic Act.

[19] McCoy (2010) p. 230, ft. 61 declares:

Although it may have been technically possible for a woman to be charged with transporting another woman for an “immoral” interstate sexual affair, it was not conceptually possible for most early-twentieth century Americans. To the best of my knowledge, no one ever suggested the possibility that women could be noncommercial violators for having same-sex affairs across state lines. It simply would have almost never occurred to contemporary observers that women traveling on trains together or sleeping in the same hotel room might be engaged in interstate love affairs, even if some were.

The issue seems to me less lack of knowledge of lesbianism than lack of interest in prosecuting women.

[20] Langum (1994) pp. 248-51.  A 1978 amendment changed only the section of the Mann Act dealing with juvenile victims.  Id. pp. 244-5.


Beckman, Marlene D. 1984.  “The White Slave Traffic Act: The Historical Impact of a Criminal Law Policy on Women.” Georgetown Law Journal, v. 72, pp. 1111-1142.

Bell, Ernest A., ed. 1910. Fighting the traffic in young girls or, War on the white slave trade (Project Gutenburg version).

Langum, David J. 1994. Crossing over the line: legislating morality and the Mann Act. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

McCoy, Kelli Ann. 2010. Claiming victims: the Mann Act, gender, and class in the American West, 1910-1930s. Ph.D. Thesis, History Department. University of California, San Diego.

rosewater for sensual revival in the ancient world

rosewater bottle, Iran, early 12th century (Freer Gallery)

In the Indian-Persian-Arabic-Greek-Egyptian tales of The Thousand and One Nights, rosewater is a luxurious perfume that revives the limp and is associated with love.  Here’s an example of rosewater described in the context of luxurious objects:

they brought him {the caliph} liqueur flavoured with fruit, and sweet spices in goblets of gold, silver and crystal.  Two pages, lovely as moons, wearing gold-embroidered Alexandrian robes, brought this in, carrying in front of them trays with crystal jugs of rosewater scented with musk. [1]

Lines of beautiful singing girls subsequently entertain the caliph.  In another example, the merchant ‘Ali Shar is brought before his beloved slave girl, Zumurrud, who is disguised as a king:

{‘Ali Shar said,} “I am here to look for a slave girl whom I have lost.  She was dearer to me than my hearing and my sight, and, although I have lost her, she still holds my soul.  This is my story.”  He then wept until he fainted.  Zumurrud ordered rosewater to be sprinkled on his face and this was done until he had recovered his senses. [2]

That night ‘Ali Shar had passionate sex with Zumurrud.  Rosewater also appears in the story of Zain, a woman so beautiful that men who see her fall deathly in love with her.  Zain served her lover Masrur in her home when her husband was thought to be away:

Zain took a wine cup and brought it to Masrur, having flavoured it with rosewater and crushed musk.  He got up and went to meet her, saying: “By God, your saliva is sweeter than this.”  She started pouring wine for him and he poured it for her, after which she sprinkled him from top to toe with rosewater until the whole room was perfumed.  Her husband, {secretly} watching all this, was astonished by the strength of their mutual affection, and the sight filled him with furious anger and passionate jealousy. [3]

Rosewater appears in many other similar contexts in the tales of The Thousand and One Nights.

Roses have long been highly valued in Eurasia.  Roses were widely cultivated in China no later than 1600 years ago.  In early ninth-century Baghdad, a physician to the caliph al-Māʾmūn reportedly did not use any medicinal treatments that had not been established for at least two hundred years:

He did not use Oxymel and preserved rose unless it was preserved in honey.  Nor did he use rose water unless it was extracted from a rose which had been boiled in hot water, but never made with sugar.  On the whole he did not use anything which the ancients did not know. [4]

Ibn Abi Usaybi’ah had close personal connections to the sultan living in Damascus early in the thirteenth century.  Ibn Abi Usaybi’ah transmitted the following account:

One night, when {one of the Sultan’s wives} was well again and the Sultan was sleeping with her, as the night was ending, she pretended to be frightened, clutched at her heart and kept shivering and crying. The Sultan, who loved her dearly, noticed it and said: “What is the matter with you?” But she did not reply. He then ordered some apple juice to be brought and had her drink some, sprinkled her face with rose water and said: “Will you not tell me what has happened to you, why you are so upset?” [5]

This account of the use of rosewater is quite similar to accounts of the use of rosewater in The Thousand and One Nights.

An ornate silver rosewater bottle has survived from the early twelfth-century Islamic world.  It is inscribed in Arabic with a generic blessing:

And blessing and good fortune.  Blessing and good fortune and joy and happiness and safety and honor and longevity to the owner.[6]

The rosewater bottle offers these blessings with a form evoking male sexual vitality.

*  *  *  *  *

Read more:


[1] Thousand and One Nights, Night 415, trans. Lyons (2008) v. 2, p. 240, edited slightly for grammar.  The story of the ninth-century physician Bakhtīshū ibn Jibrā’īl’s luxurious control over the season includes rosewater in the desired environment.  Bakhtīshū offered the caliph luxurious accommodation that included rosewater perfume:

The physician admitted the Caliph to a large square room, whose ceiling was all covered with openings to give light. It was hung entirely with brocaded cloth, which showed under it gum-wood dyed with rose water, sandal and camphor wood. When the Caliph lay down to sleep, he suddenly smelled the most exquisite odors; he could not understand what they were, for he did not see in that room any perfumes, fruits or flowers, neither did he find any fragrant herbs behind the cloth nor any place where they could be put. He was greatly astonished and ordered al-Fath ibn Khāqān to trace the source of these smells. Al-Fath went searching and found around the room, from the outside and all its sides and corners, fine chinks filled with sweet-smelling herbs, crammed with all kinds of aromatic plants, fruits, perfumes and scents; among these were mandrake, the skins of watermelons filled with wild thyme, sweet basil from Yemen, prepared with rose water, yellow saffron perfume, camphor, old wine, saffron and curcuma.

HP p. 270-1.

[2] Id., Night 326, v. 2, p. 66.

[3] Id., Night 853, v. 3, p. 313.  In the story of Aziz and Aziza, Aziz observes, “She {Aziza} sprinkled me with rosewater, and I sat with her, feeling in perfect health.”  Id. Night 118, v. 1, p. 504.  Rosewater here seems to highlight Aziz’s lack of sexual desire toward Aziza, who loves him deeply.

[4] HP p. 351.  The physician was Mikhā’īl ibn Māsawayhi, brother of Yūhannā ibn Māsawayhi.

[5] HP p. 905.  The sultan was Ayyubid al-Adil.  Ibn Abi Usaybi’ah heard the story from his father, who was a physician in the sultan’s court.

[6] Translation from the label for the rosewater bottle, on display in the Freer Gallery.


Lyons, Malcolm C. 2008. The Arabian nights: tales of 1001 nights. vols. 1-3. London: Penguin.

HP: Ibn Abi Usaybi’ah, Ahmad ibn al-Qasim. English translation of History of Physicians (4 v.) Translated by Lothar Kopf. 1971. Located in: Modern Manuscripts Collection, History of Medicine Division, National Library of Medicine, Bethesda, MD; MS C 294Online transcription.

Charlie Chaplin persecuted for sex with Joan Berry

Many regard the prosecution of President Bill Clinton in the Lewinsky affair as a travesty of justice.  In important respects, persecuting film star Charlie Chaplin for having sex with Joan Berry was a worse travesty of justice.  In Hollywood in the late 1930s and early 1940s, Chaplin had sex with many women in addition to Berry.  Berry, very much part of that Hollywood scene, had sex with other men in addition to Chaplin.[1]  Berry, pregnant, filed a paternity suit against Chaplin.  That suit quickly generated enormous anti-Chaplin public sentiment, an extensive federal law-enforcement investigation into Chaplin’s sexual relations with Berry, and an array of legal charges and court cases against Chaplin.  The Berry affair became an enduring nightmare for Chaplin.

Public sentiment shifted strongly against Chaplin when he became pitted against the pregnant Berry.  In May, 1943, Berry, who also went by the name Joan Barry and several other names, attempted to negotiate paternity payments from Chaplin.  Leading Hollywood gossip columnists Hedda Hopper and Florabel Muir worked closely with her in the negotiations.  Chaplin insisted that he was not the father and refused to pay Berry.  On June 3, 1943, Berry filed a a paternity suit against Chaplin.  On that same day, the Chicago Tribune published a column by Hedda Hopper attacking Chaplin.  Her column concluded:

Will her child have a name?  What is to become of that child and its mother, Joan Barry? … Those are the questions Hollywood is asking today.  Those are the questions Hollywood has a right to ask and not only hope for an answer but to demand one. [2]

Whether a pregnant woman’s child “will have a name” is an incomprehensible question today.  But the social power of mother and child remains. Hopper and Muir attacked Chaplin in many subsequent gossip columns.  Major newspaper produced front-page news article highlighting Chaplin’s legal difficulties and slanted against him.  Chaplin was popular enough to have been invited to give a speech at Roosevelt’s preinaugural concert in 1941, and to receive an enthusiastic ovation for his speech.  After the pregnant Berry burst into the public spotlight, Chaplin became widely condemned.[3]

Chaplin faced federal criminal charges as a result of his affair with Berry.  About three weeks after Berry filed her paternity suit, J. Edgar Hoover, the Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigations, received a memorandum describing Chaplin’s relationship with Berry.  About two months later, Hoover learned that, in October of the previous year, Chaplin had paid for Berry to visit New York.  Hoover encouraged FBI agents to investigate whether Chaplin had committed a “White Slave violation.”  An FBI memorandum two weeks later was headed:

Re: Charles Chaplin
 Joan Berry - Victim
 White Slave Traffic Act

The memorandum outlined Chaplin’s victimization of Berry:

The allegations are as before stated that at Chaplin’s request Berry came from Los Angeles to New York and engaged in immoral activities there at his suggestion. [4]

The FBI subsequently uncovered the facts that Chaplin paid for Berry’s train tickets to and from New York, but not her New York hotel room, and that Berry had spent one night in Chaplin’s hotel room.  The U.S. Attorney General secured an indictment of Chaplin on two counts of violating the White Slave Traffic Act: one count for paying for Berry’s ticket from Los Angeles to New York, and a second count for paying for her ticket from New York back to Los Angeles.  The indictment specified that Chaplin paid for these tickets for the intent and purpose of having Berry “engage in illicit sex relations with him and live with him as his mistress.”  On this basis Chaplin, but not Berry, was charged with the federal crime of consensual, adult, non-commercial sexual activity that involved travel across interstate lines.  The two counts against Chaplin carried a total penalty of up to ten years of imprisonment and a $10,000 fine.[5]

Chaplin and six other persons were also indicted on federal charges for allegedly violating Berry’s civil rights.  The circumstances of the alleged civil rights violation involve Berry stalking Chaplin.  In his autobiography, Chaplin described their deteriorating relationship:

Then {early 1942} strange and eerie things began to happen.  Barry {Berry} began driving up in her Cadillac at all hours of the night, very drunk, and I would have to awaken my chauffeur to drive her home.  One time she smashed her car in the driveway and had to leave it there.  As her name was now associated with the Chaplin Studios {which had her under contract as an actress}, I became worried that if she were picked up by the police for drunk driving it would create a scandal.  Finally she got so obstreperous that when she called in the small hours of the night I would neither answer the phone nor open the door to her.  Then she began smashing in the windows. [6]

Berry spoke in detail to the FBI about an incident on December 19, 1942:

At a date which I believe was about December 19, 1942, I again saw Charles {Chaplin}.  During this time I was exceedingly upset and bought a gun down on Main Street, corner of Fifth and Main, approximately.  I  bought this gun on a Saturday night before the night time I was with Chaplin.  During this period I was trying to see him and called him daily on the telephone, but he would not talk with me.  I lost this first gun at the Beverly House or when I was with Erica Seahan, just where I don’t know.  I then bought another gun at the Hollywood Gun Shop, just a day or so before I went up to Chaplin’s on this date which I believe to be about December 19.

The reason I bought these guns was because I was going to kill myself.  I finally resolved to see Charles, thinking that when I got up there I would kill myself right in front of him.  I believe I must have taken a taxi up there that night and when I arrived the lights were out in the house downstairs, which meant he had not come home.  I got out of the taxi down on Summit Drive and walked up the grade to the house and went around in back.  While there I heard a car drive up and Tim Durant bid Charles good night.  Charles went into the house and I thought he would probably be in the living room or sun porch if the lights were not on.  I  went to the front door and rang the bell several times and no one answered {although at least five persons were in the house}.  As a matter of fact, no one upstairs or in the servant’s quarters can hear the front door bell ring.  I went around in back and knocked on the door and when nobody came, I broke the glass and went in.  I went upstairs, finding no one downstairs.  Charles told me afterwards that he had heard me down there, but did not care.  When I got upstairs he was on the telephone talking to someone in affectionate tones.  I listened for five minutes or so to him from the dressing room and became jealous and took the gun out of my pocket and pointed it at him as I came into the room.  He saw me and said goodbye to the person he was talking to, and hung up.  He said, “What are you going to do, are you going to kill me?”  Then he said, “Oh, I know, you are going to kill yourself.” [7]

Other witness corroborate the facts that Berry broke into Chaplin house and confronted him with a gun.  That was not the only instance of Berry breaking into Chaplin’s house.  The FBI file on Chaplin described evidence that the FBI collected from Louise Runser.  Runser worked at Chaplin’s studio.  The FBI reported:

She {Miss Runser} was asked what knowledge she had of the time Berry came to Chaplin’s house on or around New Year’s Eve, 1942, at the time her husband, Mr. Watts, was serving as a watchman.  She related that her husband told her that Berry came in a taxicab, left her fur coat with the driver, and that when she got in the house, went for a gun which was kept in the pantry.  She said that her husband told her that he grabbed her, tried to keep her from getting the gun, and that Berry kicked and screamed; that thereafter, Berry asked to go to the bathroom, where she turned on the water and jumped out the window.  She said that her husband called her, Miss Runser, and asked her what they should do. [8]

The following morning (January 1, 1942) the Beverly Hills Police Department, responding to a suicide call, found Berry, dressed in a man’s bathrobe, pajamas, and slippers, with iodine on her lips, in a car in front of the house of another man which whom she was closely associated.  Berry told the police that she had no home, no address, and no money.  Berry was charged with vagrancy.  She pled guilty.  Police Judge Charles Griffin of Beverly Hills gave her a three-months suspended sentence on the condition that she get out of town.  Berry got on a train to New York, but returned to Los Angeles that spring.[9]

Berry’s stalking of Chaplin evidently continued when she returned to Los Angeles.  On May 7, 1943, Chaplin complained to police that Berry was at his house.  She was then arrested for violating terms of her probation.  Judge Griffin allowed Berry to be released from jail because she was pregnant.[10]  On the last Sunday in May, Berry again appeared uninvited at Chaplin’s home.  Berry told the FBI:

I went up to Chaplin’s house, in the back way and up in his bedroom.  I saw Oona {Oona O’Neill, Chaplin’s new girlfriend and soon-to-be wife} and Charles coming in the house before I got up there.  I heard him go out the front door with her and he told me later he drove her home.  He came back upstairs and saw me and we talked.  I was a little hysterical.  He said, “You can’t talk now sensibly.  You stay here, and I’ll got to a hotel.”  Then he said, “No, I’ll drive you home.”  He was coming downstairs, putting on his coat and was going to drive me home, and Edward {Chaplin’s butler} came in and said he would drive me home.  Then he came and took me to the hotel. [11]

The next day Berry again appeared uninvited at Chaplin’s home.  Berry told the FBI:

On Decoration Day {Memorial Day} I again went up to Chaplin’s house.  My mother was in the hotel with me at the time.  I went in the side door and Edward {Chaplin’s butler} told me that Charles had already gone out.  I said I wasn’t going to leave until he returned, and he said, “Wait, I’ll call his attorney.  Will you speak to his attorney?”and I said “Yes,” I would.  I spoke to the other attorney Doherty.  Doherty said, “Why don’t you let your attorney take care of it?  Be a good girl and go home.  Will you?” and I said, “Yes, I will,” so I decided I would.  Then I called home and they said my mother had gone up to Hedda Hopper’s {Hedda Hopper was a prominent Hollywood gossip columnist}, so I knew the number and would I call her there, and I called her there and Florebel (prominent Holly gossip columnist Florebel Muir} was there and I called Hedda and she said my mother was expected.

Then Edward drove me down to her house and I went in and talked to Hedda. [12]

The next day Berry asked her lawyer to prepare a paternity suit against Chaplin. The paternity suit was filed three days later.

The FBI investigation of Chaplin’s attempts to protect himself from Berry resulted in an indictment against Chaplain and six other persons for conspiring to violate Berry’s civil rights.  The indictment was for two federal felony criminal conspiracy charges and a federal misdemeanor charge.  These criminal charges centered around an alleged conspiracy to railroad Berry out of town.  The six other persons indicted were:

  • Capt. W. W. White of the Beverly Hills Police Department
  • Police Judge Charge Griffin of Beverly Hills
  • Robert Arden, radio commentator and a Chaplin confidant
  • Thomas Wells Durant, another Chaplin confidant
  • Lt. Claude Marple, of the Beverly Hills Police Department
  • Jessie Billie Reno, Beverly Hills police matron [13]

Chaplin, Arden, and Durant allegedly conspired to encourage the Beverly Hills Police Department to pressure Berry to plead guilty to a vagrancy charge resulting from the New Year’s Eve events that began with Berry appearing uninvited at Chaplin’s house, grabbing a gun, and then fleeing out of a bathroom window.  Chaplin and his co-conspirators allegedly paid for her train ticket to leave Beverly Hills under the conditions of her suspended sentence for vagrancy. On the day that she received that sentence, Beverly Hills Police Department Capt. W. W. White reportedly entered Judge Griffin’s chambers and “mentioned something about ‘Chaplin would probably be glad to get rid of her’.”[14]  That seems plausible.  Stalking today is recognized as a serious public concern.  To the extent that the justice system showed concern for Berry’s stalking of Chaplin, the results were indicting Chaplin and justice system officials for violating Berry’s civil rights.

Chaplin choosing fatherhood in The Kid (1921)

A week after Berry’s paternity suit was filed, the parties reached an agreement to suspend the suit until after the child was born and paternity blood tests were performed.  For performing the blood tests, one physician was selected by Berry’s representatives, another physician was selected by Chaplin’s representatives, and those two physicians together selected a third.  All three physicians then supervised the relevant blood tests.  Along with the legal representatives to the paternity suit, Berry stipulated:

That she is represented by counsel of her own choosing and is acting under their advice; that she has read the stipulation and agrees to all of its provisions and in consideration thereof agrees to release defendant of all claims that she now has or may hereafter have against him except as set forth in said stipulation; … that she further agrees that in the event the physicians’ report shall show that defendant is not the father of her child she will accept said report as establishing that fact and will not, personally or on behalf of the child, make any further claims against defendant for the support, maintenance, care and education of the child or of herself. [15]

In exchange for the stipulation, Berry received considerable monetary compensation:

The stipulation which was signed on June 9, 1943, provided that defendant {Chaplin} should pay to the guardian ad litem {Berry’s mother} forthwith the sum of $2,500 together with the sum of $100 each week until the trial, for medical care and for the living expenses of Miss Berry and the infant plaintiff; also the sum of $4,600 for expenses connected with Miss Berry’s confinement, $500 of which was to be paid before the birth of the child, $1,000 at birth, $500 per month for four months after birth, and $1,100 after the child had been submitted to physicians for blood tests. All of said payments were made by defendant. [16]

On Feb. 15, 1944, the blood tests were performed.  All three physicians concurred that the blood tests showed conclusively that Chaplin was not the father of Berry’s child.[17]  Scientific blood tests thus objectively revealed that Chaplin was not the father of Berry’s child.

Blood tests showing that Chaplin was not the father of Berry’s child did not resolve Berry’s paternity suit.  The results of the blood test were quickly leaked to the press and appeared in Los Angeles evening newspapers on the day the tests were performed.  Berry refused to accept the finding, broke the stipulation she had signed, and continued to pursue the paternity suit against Chaplin.  Others helped to provide justification for Berry denying the results of the blood tests.  Chaplin’s FBI file reports:

The following morning, and for several days thereafter stories circulated in Los Angeles that the test was not accurate; that Chaplin had taken some chemical to change his blood type, etc.  One newspaper printed that the Federal Government was investigating the possibility that Chaplin had taken such steps.  None of these stories has the appearance of any truth. [18]

Even today, Wikipedia, a highly influential source of public knowledge, concludes its paragraph on the Berry’s paternity suit with the incredible claim:

Chaplin’s second wife, Lita Grey {who was divorced from Chaplin in a bitter, highly public legal proceeding in 1927}, later asserted that Chaplin had paid corrupt government officials to tamper with the blood test results. She further stated that “there is no doubt that she {Carol Ann} was his child.”

Lita Grey surely did not know without a doubt that Joan Berry only had sex with Chaplin during the relevant period.  Hence Lita Grey could not have known without a doubt that the child was Chaplin’s.  Moreover, the three physicians chosen to do the blood tests performed the tests and reported the results without any government involvement.  Thus the above claim about paternity is intellectually preposterous.[19]  But true knowledge of paternity matters little in social circumstances that demand false beliefs.

Despite the blood tests showing that Chaplin was not the father of Berry’s child, the jury deciding Berry’s paternity suit found that Chaplin was the father.  Berry’s lawyer employed a wide variety of ethnic, class, and misandristic slurs against Chaplin in urging the juries to reach that decision:

This pestiferous, lecherous hound. . . . I’m sorry he isn’t here so I could . . . hand it to him right on the chin. . . . Did you ever hear the story of Svengali and Trilby? This fellow is just a little runt of a Svengali. He’s not even a monster . . . just a little runt. . . . This fellow doesn’t lie like a gentleman. He lies like a cheap Cockney cad. … That man goes around fornicating . . . with the same aplomb that the average man orders bacon and eggs for breakfast. He is a hoary headed old buzzard . . . with the instincts of a young bull … a master mechanic in the art of seduction [20]

Berry’s lawyer emphasized to the second jury that they should send a message to other men that “irresponsible” behavior would not be tolerated:

After all, every rooster wants to do the same thing as Chaplin, and this is why I … am in this case, why I am doing it, because I love this town and this community and our government. [21]

In the first paternity trial, the jury returned deadlocked, with seven votes against finding paternity (six women and one man) and five votes in favor of paternity (four men and one woman).  A newspaper report described the jurors’ deliberation:

In arriving at their deadlock, the jury finally discounted the blood experts’ testimony that Chaplin could not be the father of the child “pretty thoroughly toward the end,” Gay {the man who was head juror} said later.

Argument and discussion centered solely around whether Chaplin, Hans Reusch, or J. Paul Getty, Tulsa oil man, the latter two men with whom the defense contended Miss Berry was intimate, was father of the child.  Lionel Vasco Bonini, third man whom the defense sought to interject into the young woman’s life, was ignored.  “The men were much more emphatic than the women in their attitude,” Gay said.  “They were pretty wild.” [22]

A second trial found Chaplin the father with a vote of eleven jurors for paternity (ten women and one man, who served as head juror) and only one woman juror against a finding of paternity.  The woman juror voting against a paternity finding explained:

I came into this court determined to see that the honor of American womanhood was upheld, but after what I heard here, I couldn’t vote for that girl. [23]

The biological fact that Chaplin was not the father of Berry’s child mattered little in the jurors’ decisions.

Cases like Berry’s paternity suit against Chaplin do not serve the best interests of children.  When Berry faltered in her claim that she had sex with Chaplin on a night that became a focus of the trial, Berry’s attorney objected:

I object to any statement of that kind, I am representing a baby here …. I have a baby to look out for. [24]

Overall, Berry keep to the script of advocating for the child.  For example, Berry testified that she asked Chaplin to marry her:

“I said,’If you’ll just give the baby a name I don’t have to have any further contact with you.'” Miss Berry previously testified she had offered to give Chaplin an immediate divorce if they were wedded.[25]

After the jury declared Chaplin to be the father of Berry’s child,  the judge awarded Berry $75 per week.  That’s about a third more than median weekly family income for all families in the U.S. in 1945.  Berry, seeking more, appealed that financial award.  She sought $1000 to $1500 a week. That amounts, per week, to roughly half of median family income per year.[26]  Why should a court order support tremendous family-income inequality for children in America?  Berry’s appeal for more money was denied.  Berry’s lawyer was initially awarded $5000 in legal expenses.  That’s more than Berry got for her child per year.  Berry’s lawyer sought greater financial compensation.  After nearly a two-year legal battle, Berry’s lawyer secured a court order requiring Chaplin to pay him $42,706 in legal fees.[27] The biggest winner in Berry’s paternity suit was Berry’s lawyer.

Through the workings of a public sphere highly attuned to the personal lives of Hollywood stars, having sex with Joan Berry created very big problems for Charlie Chaplin.  Chaplin’s many other sexual affairs had not impeded his rise to extraordinary popularity.  Public reaction to the story of the pregnant Berry, however, seriously damaged Chaplin’s public standing.  The ensuing federal cases charging White Slave Traffic Act violations and a conspiracy against Berry’s civil rights seriously threatened Chaplin’s personal freedom.  Those cases failed legally, but not before causing Chaplin acute personal anxiety and considerable legal costs.  As a result of Berry’s paternity lawsuit, Chaplin was legally declared to be the father of Berry’s child even though he was not the child’s biological father and had no social relationship with the child.

Chaplin’s troubles from his affair with Berry are not just a sensational Hollywood story.  The Chaplin-Berry affair points to deeper social patterns.  Legal cases of contested paternity show the social regulation of male sexuality.  A review of contested paternity cases in the U.S. across the twentieth century found:

Rather than assuming that paternity should be rooted in a genetic or biological connection to a child, many juries decided that what rendered a man responsible for financially supporting a child was having had sex with the mother.  Paternity, then, hinged not on the existence of a current biological relationship between the child and the accused, but a prior sexual relationship between the mother and the accused. [28]

Legally conflating having sex and fathering a child denies men sexual freedom.  In social circumstances in which sexual freedom is celebrated, denying men, but not women, sexual freedom under law is socially demoralizing, especially if serious discussion of this issue is socially suppressed.  Moreover, in social circumstances in which women commonly have sex with multiple men, equating having sex and fathering a child requires either recognizing multiple legal fathers for a child or an extra-legal choice among men in imposing legal fatherhood.  Recognizing multiple legal fathers would make administering family law much more difficult.  On the other hand, arbitrarily imposing legal fatherhood corrupts law and fatherhood.

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Read more:


[1] On Chaplin’s sexual relations, see FBI 1:114-21 (report made 11/9/43).  That Chaplin had sex with many young, beautiful women was widely known and not contested.  The FBI records of its investigation of the Chaplin-Berry affair provides evidence of Berry’s sexual relations.  Berry lived in New York City prior to coming to Los Angeles and Hollywood at age nineteen looking for work as an actress.  FBI 1:97 (citing Los Angeles Herald, June 4, 1943).  Joan Berry was born as Mary Louise Gribble, but in Los Angeles used a variety of names: Mary Louise Berry, Joan Barratt, Mary L. Barratt, Joanne Berry, JoAnne Berry, and Joan Barry.  The most common alternate name for Joan Berry is Joan Barry.  The first official record of Berry that the FBI found was her arrest on Dec. 17, 1938, for stealing a dress in Los Angeles.  FBI 1:103 (report made 11/9/43).  Id. observes:

It is understood that a local businessman became acquainted with Berry in September, 1938, and kept her in a local apartment house and hotel over a period of several years.  During this time it was necessary to have an abortion performed on her.

The first available FBI report concerning Chaplin and Berry, “Memorandum for the Director {J. Edgar Hoover}”, dated June 24, 1943, reports a confidential source informed the FBI:

Jean Paul Getty, wealthy oil man of this city {Los Angeles}, and A. C. Blumenthal, wealthy member of the international set living between Los Angeles and Mexico, lived with Joan Barry in Mexico City for a time and, in addition, she has been passed around freely to various motion picture actors in Hollywood prior to and subsequent to her affair with Chaplin.

FBI 1:5.  Berry had two more abortions that she attributed to pregnancies resulting from sex with Chaplin.  Berry’s testimony and other evidence indicates that Chaplin and his confidants pressured Berry into having these abortions and paid for the abortions.  FBI 2:152-7 (report dated 2/25/44).  Newspaper articles of the time refer to these abortions obliquely as “operations”.  Berry first met Chaplin about May 27, 1941, signed a contract with Chaplin’s studio on June 23, 1941, and first had sex with Chaplin about this time.  In her testimony at the first Chaplin paternity trial (started Dec. 19, 1944, jury returned deadlocked Jan. 4, 1945), Berry “denied positively that she had been intimate with any other man since she met Chaplin.”  See “Joan Berry Asks Juror to Name Chaplin Father,” Los Angeles Times, Dec. 21, 1944, p. 2.  Paternity blood tests conducted and reported in Feb. 1944 clearly indicated that Berry had sex with a man other than Chaplin since she met Chaplin.  FBI records on the Chaplin-Berry affair make clear that Berry was active in Hollywood night life apart from her relationship with Chaplin.  FBI 2: 158-66.  From Nov. 6-17, 1942, Berry took a trip with J. Paul Getty to Miami Beach, Florida.  FBI 1:108-9.  Following the legal resolution of her relationship with Chaplin, Berry had a troubled life.  See further biography of Berry, see the occasionally misleading Mandarano (c. 2009).

[2] Hedda Hopper, “Looking at Hollywood,” Chicago Daily Tribune, June 3, 1943, p. 22.

[3] Maland (1989), pp. 207-220, reviews the effects of the gossip columnists and news reports on the Berry-Chaplin case and on Chaplin’s public standing.

[4] The released FBI Chaplin file includes a “Memorandum for the Director {J. Edgar Hoover}”, dated June 24, 1943.  FBI 1:5.  The earliest document with subject line including “Joan Barr, Victim – White Slave Traffic Act” in the released FBI Chaplin file is dated Aug. 17, 1943.  FBI 1:9. Hoover’s direction and the description of the White Slave Traffic Act allegation is in an FBI memorandum, dated Aug. 26, 1943.  FBI 1:10-11.

[5] “Jury Indicts Chaplin on Mann Act Charge,” Los Angeles Times, Feb. 11, 1944, p. 1.  For the relevant FBI documents, see FBI 2: 179, 186-94.

[6] Chaplin (1964) p. 415.  Chaplin’s account places these events between when Berry started acting lessons at Max Reinhardt’s school of acting and when Chaplin canceled Berry’s acting contract.  According to Berry, she was taking lessons at Reinhardt’s school from Feb. 1942 through early May, 1942.  FBI 2:158. J. Paul Getty gave Berry the money to purchase her Cadillac.  FBI 2:152.

[7] FBI 2:166.

[8] FBI 2:179.  Berry bought the fur coat around November, 1941, for $1100.  Chaplin apparently paid for it.  FBI 2:159.

[9] “Court Orders Chaplin to Answer Suit,” Los Angeles Times, June 5, 1943, reporting on statements of Beverly Hills Policy Chief C. H. Anderson.  A doctor examined Berry.  He pronounced that she was not suffering from poisoning and had simulated suicide.  FBI 1:98 reports the contents of this news article.  Upon leaving from Los Angeles, Berry got off the train in Omaho, Nebraska, and then traveled to Tulsa, Oklahoma; Kansas, New York, and then back to Los Angeles.  See FBI 2:169.

[10] FBI 2:169.

[11] FBI 2:171.

[12] Id.

[13] “Jury Indicts Chaplin on Mann Act Charge,” Los Angeles Times, Feb. 11, 1944, p. 1.

[14] “Filmland Great to Get Roles in Chaplin Suit,” Los Angeles Times, June 6, 1843, p. 2.

[15] Berry v. Chaplin, 74 Cal. App. 2d 652 – Cal: Court of Appeal 1946 at 656.

[16] Berry v. Chaplin, 74 Cal. App. 2d 669 – Cal: Court of Appeal 1946 at 676.

[17] “Chaplin Not Father of Miss Berry’s Baby, Blood Tests by Three Physicians Show,” The Associated Press / The New York Times, Feb. 16, 1944, p. 19.

[18] FBI 2:210-11.  When Chaplin’s attorney attempted to have the stipulation upheld, the court balked.  The formal legal reasoning was that the court that had ratified the stipulation had not independently considered the best interests of the child.  Legal guardians are not legally free to make stipulations not in the best interests of the child.  See Berry v. Chaplin, 74 Cal. App. 2d 652 – Cal: Court of Appeal 1946.

[19] Mandarano (c. 2009) relays this claim from an interview in 2009 with Richard Lamparski:

Richard Lamparski, author of the popular “Whatever Became of…” series which details the then and now lives of many famous celebrities, was a friend of Lita Grey Chaplin (1908-1995), Chaplin’s second wife and father of his elder sons, in her later life. According to Lamparski, in person at Grey Chaplin’s residence, she confided to him that during that time many Los Angeles government agencies and the justice system were “extremely corrupt and you could buy anything” (Lamparski Interview). She further relayed to Lamparski that Chaplin had paid to have the blood tests tampered with and that “there is no doubt that she (Carol Ann) was his child” (Lamparski Interview).

This claim is far removed from credible historical evidence.  An appreciative review of Lamparski’s work described him as a “catty man with an eccentric writing style.”  Here’s further Lamparski biography.  Die-hard conspiracy theorists might ponder that the AB test excluded Chaplin, but the MN test did not.  Either AB or MN exclusion is scientifically conclusive for non-paternity.  But not having both exclusions made presenting the tests more complicated and more prone to mis-interpretation.  See Berry v. Chaplin, 74 Cal. App. 2d 652 – Cal: Court of Appeal 1946 at 665.

[20] Quoted in untitled article in Time Magazine, Jan. 8, 1945 (v. 45, n. 2).

[21] Rudavsky (1996) p. 8, citing Trial Record of Berry v. Chaplin: 665-667.

[22] “Chaplin Jury Deadlocked, 7-5; Is Discharged,” Winn, Marcia, Chicago Daily Tribune, Jan. 5, 1945, p. 6.

[23] “Father of Carol Ann,” Newsweek 45 (Apr. 30, 1945) p. 41.

[24] Rudavsky (1996) p. 7, quoting Trial Record of Berry v. Chaplin: 245.

[25] “Joan Berry Asks Jurors to Name Chaplin Father,” Los Angeles Times, Dec. 21, 1944, p. 2.

[26] “Joan Berry Wants More Money From Chaplin,” The Baltimore Sun, Sept. 27, 1945, p. 7.  U.S. median annual family income before taxes in 1947 was $3031.  The Consumer Price Index (BLS) rose from 18 to 22.3 from 1945 to 1947.  Carter (2006), Tables BE67-84 and CC1-2.  See alternatively online historical statistics.  For a legal judgment on the award appeals, see Berry v. Chaplin, 74 Cal. App. 2d 669 – Cal: Court of Appeal 1946.

[27] See Berry v. Chaplin, 74 Cal. App. 2d 669, and “Chaplin Must Pay $42,706 to Joan Berry’s Lawyer,” Daily Boston Globe, Dec. 21, 1946, p. 3.

[28] Rudavsky (1996) p. 35.

[image] From Chaplin in his movie The Kid (1921), deciding what to do with an abandoned child.  On Chaplin’s own impoverished childhood, see Weissman (2008).


Carter, Susan B. 2006. Historical statistics of the United States: earliest times to the present. New York: Cambridge University Press.

Chaplin, Charlie. 1964. My autobiography. New York: Simon and Schuster.

FBI Charlie Chaplin file online.  Referenced as FBI A:B, where A is the online section number (1 or 2 of 10), and B is the pdf page number in the online section.  The first pages of online section 1 have cover sheets stating “Subject: Charlie Chaplin; Part 3 of 5; File number: 31-68496; Part 1 of 3.”  Online section 2 has no cover sheets.

Maland, Charles J. 1989. Chaplin and American culture: the evolution of a star image. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press.

Mandarano, Matthew (c. 2009). “Joan Barry: The Most (In)famous Actress to Never Appear on Screen.”

Rudavsky, Shari. 1996. Blood will tell: the role of science and culture in twentieth-century paternity disputes. Thesis (Ph. D.)–University of Pennsylvania.

Weissman, Stephen M. 2008. Chaplin: a life. New York: Arcade Pub.

materia medica of Paulus Aegineta and Māsarjawaih

In the seventh century, the Byzantine physician Paulus Aegineta copied a list of medical substitutes that he attributed to Galen.  In Baghdad early in the eighth century, the Jewish physician Māsarjawaih also produced a list of medical substitutes.  Comparing the most popular substantive words in their medicine lists shows some significant differences:

  1. Māsarjawaih’s medicines are more elaborate than Paulus Aegineta’s medicines.  The top three words from Māsarjawaih’s medicines are oil, electuary, and ointment.  The top three words from Paulus Aegineta’s medicines are juice, seed, and root.
  2. Māsarjawaih’s medicines are more palatable than Paulus Aegineta’s medicines.  Honey, milk, and sugar are within the top-15 words from Māsarjawaih’s medicines.  Sugar doesn’t occur in Paulus Aegineta’s list, honey occurs only once, and milk only twice.  Stone and dung are in Paul Aegineta’s top-15 words, but not in Māsarjawaih’s.

These differences suggest that Māsarjawaih’s medicines served a more developed, more popular medical market did Paulus Aegineta’s.

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Data: word popularity counts from the medical lists of Paulus Aegineta and Māsarjawaih (Excel version)

Read more:


Lev, Efraim, and Zohar Amar. 1951. “Practice versus Theory: Medieval Materia Medica According to the Cairo Genizah.” Medical History. 51: 507–526.  See especially Table 3.

De Vos, Paula. 2010. “European materia medica in historical texts: Longevity of a tradition and implications for future use.” Journal of Ethnopharmacology. 132 (1): 28-47. See especially Table 3.