Using the exhibit

Illuminating the Reno Divorce Industry can be explored in a number of ways.  Narratives arranged by theme address six general areas of interest, broken down into related topics or subthemes.  The library provides an opportunity to browse and search the exhibit’s extensive collection of materials directly. All exhibit features may be accessed at any time through the menu available at the top and bottom of each page.

Themes and Subthemes

The exhibit’s narrative component is organized around six themes, which introduce the main elements of Reno’s divorce industry and provide a gateway to specific stories and related materials.  Each theme features a written introduction, an audio overview from exhibit co-curator Mella Harmon, a visual slideshow, and links to 4-6 related subthemes.  Themes and subthemes are not organized chronologically, and may be viewed in any order.

Subtheme pages elaborate on aspects of the main themes through a descriptive overview, Featured Resources from the library, and a Featured Story.  Click on any of the Featured Resources to reach that item’s detailed library entry. Click or tap “View more items in library” to see all the photographs, audio clips, documents, and published articles and books directly related to that subtheme.

Featured Stories on each subtheme page highlight an individual or subject that helps to bring that topic to life. Accompanying each of these stories are images, audio clips and other related items. Detailed entries for these and other related materials may all be viewed by clicking on “View more items in library,” found adjacent to the Featured Resources section in the center of the page.

To aid in navigating the site, a menu of themes can be found at the top of a column at the far right. This menu will list the subthemes related to the current page. Related subtheme pages can also be reached by clicking on labeled images near the bottom of each theme and subtheme page.


On the far right of the menu found at the top of every page is a search icon represented by a magnifying glass. Clicking or tapping the icon will open a search box. Enter words or phrases here to find pages and library items relating to your chosen search term. Search results will include theme, subtheme, and other pages where the term appears, as well as items from the library associated with that term. Placing a term in quotation marks will enable a search for a specific phrase.

To search only items found in the library, visit the library page, which features its own keyword search window on a special shaded menu bar. Entering a word or phrase in this search window will bring up library items only, not theme or subtheme pages featuring the chosen word or phrase.


The exhibit’s online library contains over 1,000 items and will continue to expand. This library is the source of content found on the narrative pages, but it also functions as a self-contained “research center.”

Objects in the library are represented visually with thumbnail images labeled with a brief title. Clicking on an image will display a larger version of the object and its full title, a short caption, and information about its “creator” and the ownership of the original item. Most items in the library were scanned and described by project participants and are included with permission of the owners or within the guidelines of the Fair Use provision of U.S. Copyright Law.

In the top left corner of each thumbnail image found on the main library page is one of five color-coded symbols representing the object’s format.  A key to the symbols is shown above the thumbnails. Accessing these different formats may result in a different experience for each user, based upon the configurations and capabilities of the computer or device being used to access the exhibit.

  • Each published text (newspaper or magazine articles, books, ads, brochures, etc.) and unpublished text (correspondence, legal documents, theses, diaries, etc.) will display as a PDF, requiring Adobe Acrobat Reader (version 8 or above), which may be downloaded for free. Books and other lengthy texts may take a few minutes to load and view in their entirety.
  • Images are usually photographs and postcards, but some short newspaper articles and other text are also categorized as images because they are not PDFs.
  • Audio clips and videos found on this site are housed on third-party websites including Soundcloud and YouTube, which are not under the control of this exhibit’s creators.  Please notify us if any of these links do not lead to the media indicated.

The shaded menu bar under the Reno Divorce Library headline provides a number of options for searching the library.  Entering a word or phrase into the search box labeled “Keywords” will locate specific words or phrases in the titles, captions, and other parts of every object’s detailed library entry.

Additionally, this menu bar provides many ways to conduct a more focused search by “filtering,” or limiting the library search to items matching certain criteria of your choice. These criteria include themes, subthemes, decade of relevance, and format.

Clicking on the “clear” button, found at the far right of the shaded menu bar, will remove all previous selections in order to enable a new search. If you arrive at the library from one of the subtheme pages, you will need to click the “clear” button in order to explore items relating to other subthemes.


The Research page provides another type of access to materials in the exhibit for researchers who prefer a bibliographic approach, and also includes information about materials that are not in the exhibit for researchers who want to delve more deeply into the history of Reno’s divorce industry. Mella Harmon’s extensive bibliography on Reno divorce history can be downloaded from this  page. Lists of other types of materials, by format (nonfiction  and fiction books, interviews, movies, magazine and journal articles, theses, etc.) are compiled on pages shown on the upper right.

Please contact us with any questions about using Illuminating Reno’s Divorce Industry.