JENNIFER MOULTON HANSEN, ed. Letters of Catharine Cottam Romney, Plural Wife.Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1992.
MARIA S. ELLSWORTH, ed. Mormon Odyssey: The Story of Ida Hunt Udall, Plural Wife.Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1992.
STAN LARSON, ed. Prisoner for Polygamy: The Memoirs and Letters of Rudger Clawson at the Utah Territorial Penitentiary, 1884-87. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1993.
While a considerable corpus of works on plural marriage already exists, the number continues to multiply. The three works under review, each detailing the life of a polygamist or plural wife, reveal the diversity of experience in plural marriage, a diversity that partly explains the continuing fascination with the subject.
In general, works about polygamy deal with its most dramatic and problematic periods–its controversial origins in Nauvoo or its demise at the end of the nineteenth century, entailing flights from U.S. marshals life, on the underground, time in prison, and secrecy. These three books concern the latter period.
To be sure, the period has been covered elsewhere, including B. Carmon Hardy’s recentSolemn Covenant: The Mormon Polygamous Passage.1 Some primary documents from the period passaged have also been published, such as the oft-quoted autobiography of Annie Clark Tanner.2 The edited journals, memoirs, and letters being reviewed are significant additions to the body of published primary works.