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In-Person Lecture: The Divorce Colony
September 26, 2022 @ 6:30 pm - 8:00 pm
How Women Revolutionized Marriage and Found Freedom on the American Frontier
This is an in-person lecture at:
Jefferson Market Library
425 6th Avenue
New York, NY 10011
For a woman traveling without her husband in the late nineteenth century, there was only one reason to take the train all the way to Sioux Falls, South Dakota. On the American frontier, the new state’s laws offered a tempting freedom often difficult to obtain elsewhere: divorce.
With the laxest divorce laws in the country, five railroad lines, and the finest hotel for hundreds of miles, the small city became the unexpected headquarters for society divorcees—infamous around the world as the “divorce colony.” These Gilded Age divorce seekers put Sioux Falls at the center of a heated national debate over the future of American marriage, one that would forever change the country’s understanding of marriage.
In this talk, April White, author of The Divorce Colony, will explore this enlightening, infuriating, and surprisingly feminist chapter in American history. It is a story both deliciously scandalous and undeniably important, as the United States continues to debate a woman’s autonomy over her own life.
April White is a senior writer and editor at Atlas Obscura. She previously worked as an editor at Smithsonian Magazine. She holds a master’s degree in history and her work has appeared in the Washington Post, Politico, Slate, and The Atavist Magazine, among other publications.