Disclaimer: I find the FLDS church and its practice of polygamy very, very disturbing. I have no sympathy for their beliefs. I think that polygamy as practiced by the nineteenth-century Mormon church is something completely different (especially manifest in the uber-liberal divorce laws), though it was not without its own problems. I also hope that people that are clambering the constitutional bells would be so ready for causes far removed from religious groups that claim a similar heritage to Mormonism.
Many people in and out of the media are asking for more information about the FLDS church and other sectarian polygamists. What follows are some helpful resources.
Utah and Arizona Offices of the Attorneys General, “The Primer: Helping Victims of Domestic Violence and Child Abuse in Polygamous Communities,” updated June 2006.
Brian C. Hales is one of the most prolific authors on polygamist sectarian groups, their history and doctrine. His website has a lot of information, including electronic copies of a few books he helped author. His recent volume, Modern Polygamy and Mormon Fundamentalism: The Generations after the Manifesto (Salt Lake City: Kofford Books, 2007), is the most up to date one volume treatment of the subject.
Martha Sonntag Bradley, professor at the University of Utah, wrote an important history of the first verse in the Federal removal of children from polygamist compounds, Kidnapped from that Land: The Government Raids on the Short Creek Polygamists (Salt Lake City: University of Utah Press, 1993).
Irwin Altman and Joseph Ginat, Polygamous Families in Contemporary Society (Cambridge and New York: Cambridge University Press, 1996) is another important volume.
Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought has several articles available, including:
Marianne T. Watson, “The 1948 Secret Marriage of Louis J Barlow: Origins of the FLDS Placement Marriage,” vol. 40 (Spring 2007), 83.
Ken Driggs, “Imprisonment, Defiance, and Division: The History of Mormon Fundamentalism in the 1940s and 1950s,” vol. 38 (Spring 2005), 65.
As many people might also be interested in Mormonism’s practice of polygamy, the following is a brief outline of the practice followed by a non-exhaustive bibliography on the topic.
Polygamy was introduced to Mormonism by its founding prophet Joseph Smith. He introduced the practice secretly and the controversy of its implementation fueled generations of sectarian strife. Polygamy was made public in 1852 and was a definitive characteristic of nineteenth-century Mormonism. The practice, coupled with Utah’s very liberal divorce laws fueled desire for a Federal marriage amendment to the constitution and a series of anti-Mormon legislation. Ultimately due to the pressure of the Federal government, the Mormon Church announced a “Manifesto” in 1890 that publically ended the practice. Over one hundred new secret polygamous marriages were formalized in the church until 1904, when Church President Joseph F. Smith delivered the “Second Manifesto,” which ended the Mormon practice of plural marriage completely. In the following decades, the Church acted to purge the Church of active polygamists and cooperated with government officials to identify polygamists for prosecution.
B. Carmon Hardy, Doing The Works of Abraham: Mormon Polygamy: Its Origin, Practice, and Demise (Norman, OK: Arthur H. Clark Company, 2007).
Kathryn M. Daynes, More Wives Than One: Transformation of the Mormon Marriage System, 1840-1910 (Urbana and Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 2001).
Sarah Barringer Gordon, The Mormon Question: Polygamy and Constitutional Conflict in Nineteenth-Century America (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2001).
Todd Compton, In Sacred Loneliness: The Plural Wives of Joseph Smith (Salt Lake City: Signature Books, 1997),
B. Carmon Hardy, Solemn Covenant: The Mormon Polygamous Passage (Urban and Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 1992).
Jessie L. Embry, Mormon Polygamous Families: Life in the Principle (Salt Lake City: University of Utah Press, 1987).