St. Louis: A.R. Fleming & Co., 1893.
First Edition. Hardcover. Very good. 220 pp, with frontis portrait of the author. A very good copy in original cloth, with mild rubbing to corners and spine ends. Inscribed on the front flyleaf "Presented by the author Mrs. Louisa Harris." Women first entered law enforcement in the United States in the position of Police Matron -- a woman charged with the supervision of female prisoners. Although a few matrons were hired as early as the 1840s, it wasn't until the 1880s, after the Women's Christian Temperance Union began pushing for change, that they became relatively common. By the 1890s, most large cities in the United States had one. This memoir by the St. Louis police matron has been cited as the first book published by a policewoman in the United States. Unlike most nineteenth-century accounts by male policemen and jailers, which unreservedly condemned their charges as immoral, depraved, vicious, etc., Harris' book is more forgiving. She writes that eight years of working with criminals has given her "opportunity to learn of the causes of the committal of the crimes" and expresses a strong belief in her own ability to reform many who have chosen the wrong path (the exception being those whose criminal tendencies are hereditary). In particular, she uses the book to condemn the holding of juvenile offenders with hardened criminals ("as it surely hastens their ruin") and to advocate for the creation of a special home or section of the jail specifically for housing younger girls.