New website illuminates Reno’s divorce history

National grant supported the creation of online exhibition

New website illuminates Reno’s divorce history

National grant supported the creation of online exhibition

Reno, Nevada's colorful history as "the divorce capital of the world," is brought to life with a new website, renodivorcehistory.org. The site features a thorough multi-media portrayal documenting Reno during the divorce trade with more than 1,000 individual documents, photos, books, magazine articles, personal accounts and audio clips.

"Reno Divorce History was created to showcase the transformative roles Reno played in the history of divorce," Mella Harmon, historian and project co-curator from the University of Nevada, Reno, said. "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."  

This comprehensive project, which has been in the works for more than a year, is now complete and available for exploration by researchers, students and the public. The project is described as an online exhibit with narrative organized around six themes introducing the main elements of Reno's divorce industry: Law of the Land; Passing the Time; Temporary Residence: Reno; The Rich and Famous; Out of the Public Eye; Divorce in Popular Culture. Each theme is supported by stories, an audio history and photos or images.  

"The site is a treasure trove for anyone interested in learning more about Reno's divorce history," Donnelyn Curtis, head of Special Collections and project co-curator at the University, said. "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, created by Special Collections at the University of Nevada, Reno, was guided by Mella Harmon, an adjunct assistant professor in the University's Department of Anthropology in the College of Liberal Arts and recognized expert on Reno's divorce trade, Donnelyn Curtis, head of Special Collections at the University and Alicia Barber, historian and project co-curator, through a grant from the Institute for Museum and Library Services.  

Visit renodivorcehistory.org to explore the exhibit.

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