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ARC Review: The Divorce Colony

The Divorce Colony: How Women Revolutionized Marriage and Found Freedom on the American Frontier by April White April White’s The Divorce Colony is set during the Gilded Age, in the America of the late 1800s. It revolves around the lax divorce rules then to be found in South Dakota.  Today, getting divorced is almost easier than getting married. But in the Gilded Age, divorces were not so easy to obtain. Divorce was viewed as a moral concern for the state, and was denounced from the pulpit for threatening the sanctity of marriage. Even President Theodore Roosevelt spoke out against it.  Laws around divorce tended to be most lax on the frontiers of the United States. By the 1880s the territory of Dakota gained the dubious honor of posting the largest rise in divorces in the country. At the turn of the century one city - Sioux Falls, South Dakota - gained a reputation for having the laxest divorce laws of all, and required only a three month residency in order to take advantage of them

Review: The Pioneers: The Heroic Story of the Settlers Who Brought the American Ideal West

The Pioneers: The Heroic Story of the Settlers Who Brought the American Ideal West by David McCullough
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I read this book because it's by David McCullough and because my family on my mother's mother's side settled in Ohio as pioneers from New England, as did those on whom this book is based. I learned a lot about the early settling of Ohio, though it turns out none of it was really relevant to my family history. The focus is on the town of Marietta as it was the first town in the Northwest Territory.

I have to agree with many others who reviewed this book on Goodreads that it reads with a point of view from the ninteenth century rather than something from 2019. McCullough based this book on diaries from a number of the early pioneers. The personal insights from the diaries lends much to the story, and their worldview comes through as you might expect. What's missing is any interpretation or context from the 21st century. I've read many town or county histories from the late 1800s while doing family research and this book reads like one of them. I was disappointed that McCullough did not add more context to the book.