The Tattooed Lady

The Tattooed Lady

A History

Book - 2009
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Living in a time when it was scandalous even to show a bit of ankle, a small number of courageous women covered their bodies in tattoos and traveled the country, performing nearly nude on carnival stages. These gutsy women spun amazing stories for captive audiences about abductions and forced tattooing at the hands of savages, but little has been shared of their real lives. Though they spawned a cultural movement--almost a quarter of Americans now have tattoos--these women have largely faded into history.

The first book of its kind, The Tattooed Lady uncovers the true stories behind these women, bringing them out of the sideshow realm and into their working class realities. Combining thorough research with more than a hundred historical photos, this social history explores tattoo origins, women's history, and circus lore. A fascinating read, The Tattooed Lady pays tribute to a group of unique and amazing women whose legacy lives on.

Amelia Klem Osterud is a tattooed academic librarian from Wisconsin. She has a master's degree in history from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and writes and lectures on the subject. This is her first book. Visit her author blog at

Publisher: Golden, Colo. : Speck Press, [2009]
Copyright Date: ©2009
ISBN: 9781933108261
Branch Call Number: 391.65082 OST
Characteristics: 154 pages :,illustrations (some color) ;,26 cm


From Library Staff

In the 19th century when showing an ankle was considered scandalous; these women were trailblazers, choosing not only to have tattoos but living outside society's norms.

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Aug 02, 2018

Featuring a great selection of vintage, b&w photographs - This informative book (covering the more contemporary history of tattoos) focuses in on this specialized topic of body art from a woman's perspective and involvement.

Carefully and thoroughly researched by American author, Amelia Osterud - "The Tattooed Lady" offers the reader a close-up look at several notable tattooed woman from the late-19th century and right through to the mid-20th century who made their mark through their illustrated bodies.

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