The name Ashley Youmans (AKA Ashley Dupre) is now inextricably linked to the downfall of Gov. Elliot Spitzer of New York. She has been widely branded as the "high class prostitute" who brought Spitzer down, though the governor's demise was hardly her doing.
S&S, however, has uncovered some information that offers a thus far unreported link between the young would-be singer from New Jersey and a far more creditable enterprise.
It appears that Ms. Youmans is a descendant of the same Youmans family that established The Popular Science Monthly, which began its run in 1872. In the magazine's statement of purpose, which appeared in the first issue, editor Edward L. Youmans wrote "The POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY has been started to help on the work of sound public education, by supplying instructive articles on the leading subjects of scientific inquiry.…The work of diffusing science is…clearly the next great task of civilization."
Interestingly, the stated purpose of The Popular Science Monthly was to "make its appeal, not to the illiterate, but to the generally-educated classes," a clientele far less exclusive than that of the Emperor Club VIP, the sex-for-pay ring for whom the young Ms. Youmans worked.
By the 1880s, the job of editor fell to Edward's son, William Jay Youmans. Ashley Youmans' father, it turns out, is the most recent family member to carry on this forgotten, though once prestigious, name of William Youmans.
While none of this genealogy alters the fall of New York's former Governor Dimsdale (See N. Hawthorne, The Scarlet Letter, for a fuller explanation) or the sorry straits of the young Ashley Youmans, it offers us an opportunity to see how one-word identities like "prostitute" or "hooker" can obscure the vicissitudes and ironies of the human condition.