In recent years, studies of Mormon plural marriage have multiplied almost as rapidly as polygamous families did more than a century ago. With this book, B. Carmon Hardy, who teaches American history at California State University in Fullerton, has made a major contribution to our understanding of the solemn covenant of plurality. His study, The Mormon Polygamous Passage (1831–1911), began with his 1963 dissertation on “The Mormon Colonies of Northern Mexico,” and he has steadily expanded that research ever since. Solemn Covenant, Hardy’s first book, serves as a marvelous, if belated, commemoration of the centenary of Wilford Woodruff’s 1890 Manifesto.
The volume’s length, vague title, and price should not deter any student of LDS plural marriage from purchasing it. If one discounts the indexes, the list of 262 post-Manifesto plural marriages, and the extensive notes at the end of each chapter, the actual text amounts to about 250 pages. The 5:9 ratio of text to total length reflects the confusion surrounding post-1890 polygamy and Hardy’s penchant for documenting his sources.