This issue of the Journal of Arizona History opens with an article by historian Mary Melcher that examines the history of divorce in territorial and early-statehood Arizona. Melcher begins by detailing the territorial legislation that allowed couples to divorce for specified reasons. Arizona Territory, like many other states and territories in the West, gave more latitude to individuals who wished to divorce their spouse. Arizona was somewhat unique in allowing a husband or wife to petition the legislature to grant them a divorce—even if their spouse was not present at the session to testify—a practice that was later banned by the U.S. Supreme Court in the 1880s. Nonetheless, divorces through the court system continued at a fairly high rate through the end of the nineteenth century and into the twentieth. In fact, Arizona ranked eleventh in the nation in divorces in 1900. Women initiated two-thirds of all divorce proceedings, with desertion and cruelty being the two main causes. Yet, Melcher’s story ends with a promising note. Liberal divorce laws, like those in territorial and early-statehood Arizona, allowed a measure of freedom to women (especially well-off white women) who wished to remove themselves from a bad situation. Considering that some states—especially back east—had strict divorce laws, some women in Arizona had better options than their counterparts.
In the second article, Mike Speelman takes a look at an annual charity event called “Wolfville.” Held every winter from 1926 to 1933, the Tucson event coincided with rodeo week each year. Initially created by the Elks, the event was soon run by the Tuscon Central Trades Council, a citywide organization for all labor-union members in the Old Pueblo. In an effort to raise funds for union activities, the Trades Council took over sponsorship of the Wolfville event starting in 1927. The annual event featured a mock “Old West” [End Page 275] village (based on the fictional village of Wolfville from the books by Alfred Henry Lewis), as well as games, entertainment, and food for visitors. The Wolfville event marketed this Old West nostalgia to an urban audience that had fully entered the industrial era.1 Though longing for a “pure” past was nothing new, the 1920s were an especially important time for nostalgia-laden historical activities. The desire to preserve and market a town’s historic structures and its “past” was evident around the country in the 1920s, including western places, most notably Tombstone. The Wolfville event likewise sought to market nostalgia for a bygone era. Initially, the Wolfville event presented a sanitized version of the Old West for audiences of all ages. Toward the end of its lifespan, however, the event became a haven for gamblers. The Tucson police shuttered the event—for good, it turned out—in 1933.
In the final article of the issue, R. John Medley and Catherine H. Ellis examine the life of Milo William Billingsley, a native of Iowa who moved to Arizona in search of the “exotic” Native American cultures of the Southwest after reading about them in National Geographic, a magazine known for its colonial gaze. As a Shriner and an entertainer, Billingsley became involved with the Hopi Tribe in his adopted home. He led several Hopi dance tours throughout his life, and in 1926 formed an organization called the “Adopted Hopi Indians of Arizona,” a fraternal organization for white men across the country who wished to help “perpetuate the old life and customs of the Hopi Indians of Arizona.” The group also sought to “promote and encourage manly friendship” among the group’s members. As Medley and Ellis point out, the efforts of Billingsley and other Adopted Hopis were often paternalistic. Yet, the authors argue, at times, their efforts were also likely sincere—especially when Billingsley and other white Adopted Hopis advocated for more reservation land for the Hopi Tribe. Although we cannot truly know what motivated Billingsley in his efforts as leader of the Adopted Hopis, Medley and Ellis’s article encourages us as historians and readers to think about motivation—what motivated a young, white man from Iowa to move to Arizona and become an “Adopted” Hopi? [End Page 276]
After perusing the book-review section, readers of the Journal may notice that this issue lacks an index. In the past, each Winter issue featured an index for the entire volume. We have recently made the decision to discontinue this practice. This decision was not made lightly. In fact, most major history journals have stopped producing an annual index. The top journal in the field of western history, for example, the Western Historical Quarterly, last published an index in 2015. The top journal in U.S. history, the Journal of American History, likewise no longer produces an annual index. Now that the Journal of Arizona History is available digitally in the JSTOR database (https://www.jstor.org/), readers who wish to search for terms can do so at home on their personal computer, on their laptop or tablet at their favorite coffee shop, or at any library that subscribes to JSTOR. [End Page 277]
1. In fact, the Tucson Central Trades Council included some workers from very modern, industrial professions, including engineers and electrical workers. See Roll Book of the Tucson Central Trades Council, 1922–1932, AZ 153, University of Arizona Special Collections, Tucson, Ariz.