Above, top: Life on the Flying M E Ranch in Reno, Nevada. Above: divorcées relax on the Flying M E pool house deck, circa late 1940s. (Photos courtesy of Bill and Sandra McGee, co-authors of THE DIVORCE SEEKERS: A Photo Memoir of a Nevada Dude Wrangler.) Left: The subject of Iker’s research, Marilu Norden, in 1951. Below: A postcard from Pyramid Lake Ranch in Reno, courtesy of Norden.
Iker will know as much about the divorce ranches in Reno as any scholar in the country. “That’s why oral histories are so valuable—you get to live in the moment and in the past with people,” says Delmont. “It’s so unusual for undergraduates to have these experiences; Theresa has done an amazing job on the project.” For Iker, Delmont provided important support as she ventured to Reno to conduct her interviews. “Professor Delmont was always just a Skype call away,” Iker says. “We would talk about the approach and questions to ask.” After conducting her interviews, Iker spent a week visiting the Nevada Historical Society in Reno, the Nevada State Library and Archive in Carson City, and the University of Nevada, Reno Special Collections and University Archives. She says she made many important— and sometimes surprising—discoveries at these archives as she scoured through personal correspondence from divorcées to divorce ranch owners; from Nevadans to governors; business correspondence of divorce attorneys; photographs; petitions regarding the residency requirement; and fragments of divorcées’ diaries. After she graduates from Scripps, Iker plans eventually to attend graduate school to pursue her interest in history. However, she wants to work in politics or journalism for a few years to continue experiencing firsthand the complexities of American culture. Iker says the time she spent interviewing women in Reno will stay with her for the rest of her life. She recalls the quiet power and strength of Norden as she confronted the reality of life at the ranch: “I think it was very helpful to me,” Norden told Iker on that hot summer day. “I knew I was on my own. I had to do something.”
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