The Special Collections Department of the University of Nevada, Reno Libraries has prepared an online exhibit on the history of divorce in the Reno area.
We hope to generate awareness and revive interest in a fascinating and vital aspect of Reno’s history, the migratory divorce industry, which thrived from 1905 through the 1960s. This largely unexplored aspect of local history had a direct or indirect impact on everyone who lived in the Reno area at the time, and was fundamental to the development of the city’s tourist economy. The awareness and acceptance of the Reno divorce came to have national significance too, as Americans came to expect ever more efficient means to release themselves from unbearable matrimonial misery. In that way, statewide legislation, as implemented in Reno and across Nevada, contributed to broader societal change. The individual stories of these temporary residents and of the judges, lawyers, journalists, “dude wranglers” and proprietors whose livelihood depended on divorce had not yet been compiled or portrayed in a multi-faceted way and are in danger of being obscured and minimized in the historical record.
The project was funded by a grant from the Institute for Museum and Library Services (IMLS) through the Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) via the Nevada State Library and Archives.