Oral history interview with Dorothy, 1980


Dorothy (Interviewee)
Courtwright, David T., 1952- (Interviewer)
Joseph, Herman, 1931- (Interviewer)
Oral history interview with Dorothy, 1980
Other Titles
Reminiscences of Dorothy, 1980; Oral history of Dorothy, 1980
Dorothy begins the interview describing her youth in a West Virginia coal mining town her relationship with her family, her father's murder, and her early jobs. She describes moving to New York City, her early perceptions of the city, and finding a job dancing in chorus lines. Dorothy discusses transitioning from dancing to singing, performing in speakeasies during the Prohibition, and the speakeas ies' interactions with law enforcement. She describes her introduction to opium through others in show business and the scene at upscale opium parties. She discusses starting heroin in the 1930s, as a means prevent withdrawal sickness. She describes relationships, including with a wealthy Texas businessman, her two husbands, and other men who supported her. She describes obtaining Dilaudid from an addicted doctor. She describes the birth of her daughter, and the baby's withdrawal with Paregoric. Dorothy discusses methadone maintenance, compares the relative merits of different drugs, and concludes with general reflections on her life and drug use
Collection Name
Addicts Who Survived oral history collection
Drug addicts--United States; Drug abuse--History--20th century.--United States; Opium abuse--History--20th century.--United States; Heroin abuse--History--20th century.--United States; Methadone maintenance--History--20th century.--United States; Drugs--Prescribing; Company towns--West Virginia; Prohibition; Dorothy
oral histories
Physical Description
109 pages
Note (Biographical)
Dorothy was born February 9, 1910 in Charleston, West Virginia, the second eldest of six siblings. Her father was a coal miner, and was murdered in a fight when Dorothy was thirteen. She began working to support her family and mover to New York City i n 1924. Dorothy worked as a dancer, chorus girl, and singer, and she sent money home to support her family. She sang in speakeasies during the Prohibition. She was introduced to opium in the 1930s through upscale parties with others in show business. She began using heroin to avoid withdrawal sickness. For a two-year period she lived in Texas in a relationship with a wealthy businessman. During her life, she had two husbands, both who were addicts. One was a jewel thief and the other owned a pornography store. One left and one died of heart issues. She was involved with several other men who supported her at various points in her life. By the 1970s, she was in a methadone maintenance program. The name "Dorothy" is likely a pseudonym for the project. In the book, Dorothy was referred to by the pseudonym "Lotty"
Interviewed by David Courtwright and Herman Joseph on June 27, 1980
Note (Provenance)
David Courtwright, Herman Joseph, and Don Des Jarlais, Gift, 1988
Library Location
Columbia Center for Oral History, Columbia University
Browse Location’s Digital Content
Catalog Record
Also In
Oral History Archives at Columbia
Time-Based Media
Time-Based Media
Persistent URL
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Available digital content for this interview.