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Now Online: A History of Divorce in Reno


Image courtesy UNR.

More than you may want to know, but intriguing nonetheless, the Biggest Little City’s history, since as early as 1900, as the divorce capital of the world is now documented online with more than 1,000 documents, audio narratives, photos and articles.

“Reno Divorce History was created to showcase the transformative roles Reno played in the history of divorce,” said Mella Harmon, historian and project co-curator from the University of Nevada, Reno (UNR). ”It not only highlights the impact the divorce industry had on Reno’s culture and economy, but also explores how Reno changed the national attitude around divorce.”

For more than a year, this project has been in the works and features Reno’s divorce industry in six themes:

  1. Law of the Land
  2. Passing the Time
  3. Temporary Residence
  4. Reno; The Rich and Famous
  5. Out of the Public Eye
  6. Divorce in Popular Culture.

Each theme contains stories, factoids, an audio narrative and images.

An example from the Rich & Famous section of the site:

What do the actress Rita Hayworth, General Douglas MacArthur, the illustrator Norman Rockwell, and the mobster Bugsy Siegel have in common? Each got a Reno divorce. Over the course of 70 years, scores of movie stars, writers, politicians, industrialists, artists, and celebrities of all types did the same.

“The site is a treasure trove for anyone interested in learning more about Reno’s divorce history,” said Donnelyn Curtis, head of UNR’s Special Collections. “Whether delving into the stories of the rich and famous divorce-seekers or researching the less-publicized stories of ordinary people, this site provides important historical detail about an important cornerstone of Reno’s cultural and economic development, which helped to shape this city’s identity.”

The project was created by Special Collections, adjunct faculty member Harmon, Curtis, historian Alicia Barber and other partners.

Visit the site here: renodivorcehistory.org.

Bob Conrad
Bob Conradhttp://thisisreno.com
Bob Conrad is publisher, editor and co-founder of This Is Reno. He has served in communications positions for various state agencies and earned a doctorate in educational leadership from the University of Nevada, Reno in 2011. He is also a part time instructor at UNR and sits on the boards of the Nevada Press Association and Nevada Open Government Coalition.