The Divorce Colony: How Women Revolutionized Marriage and Found Freedom on the American Frontier

Hachette. Jun. 2022. 304p. ISBN 9780306827662. $30. HIST
White follows four women (including an Astor and an aspiring actress) as they traveled to Sioux Falls, South Dakota, in the late 19th century, all seeking the same thing: a divorce from their husbands. Sioux Falls attracted divorce-seekers from across the country—wealthy women in particular—with its five rail lines, its luxury hotel (rare on the frontier), and the most accomodating divorce laws in the U.S. The many Sioux Falls divorcées, nicknamed “the Divorce Colony” in the press, were at the center of a national debate about divorce and the state of American family. The dramatic lives of this book’s East Coast–socialite subjects will captivate White’s readers the way it captivated the American public a century ago. Just as fascinating, White expertly weaves in the politics of divorce (from churches to the courts to the White House) and does justice to the Divorce Colony women who she says started a revolution simply by seeking divorce.
VERDICT A spellbinding look into a forgotten history, with engaging storytelling that makes it feel like a dramatic novel instead of the well-researched nonfiction it is. A must for anyone interested in women’s history.
Comment Policy:
  • Be respectful, and do not attack the author, people mentioned in the article, or other commenters. Take on the idea, not the messenger.
  • Don't use obscene, profane, or vulgar language.
  • Stay on point. Comments that stray from the topic at hand may be deleted.
  • Comments may be republished in print, online, or other forms of media.
  • If you see something objectionable, please let us know. Once a comment has been flagged, a staff member will investigate.



We are currently offering this content for free. Sign up now to activate your personal profile, where you can save articles for future viewing