Oh, Academic Bloggysphere, I call upon you in my hour of need.
Background: In my current dissertation chapter, I'm writing about Belle Benchley, who for many years served as director of the San Diego Zoo.* I'm looking pretty closely at differences in the rhetoric she used in her autobiography and in letters to another (male) zoo director.
My question: How appropriate would it have been for a woman born in 1882 to use the phrase "buying orgy" in professional (but likely confidential) correspondence? Was "orgy" a term commonly used by American women circa WWII?
I'm not a linguist, so with the exception of the OED, I have no idea where to find such information. Any ideas? I'm happy to follow up on any leads, no matter how far-fetched they may seem to you. :)
Thanks so much!
*Funny (and sad) story: I contacted the zoo to ask about seeing Benchley's papers. Apparently sometime after her death they gave her papers to a bus driver who was a friend of hers. *poof!* So much for quality research. . . Thank goodness the Smithsonian does have quite a few of her letters to the National Zoo director.