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The Courtship of Eva Eldridge: A Story of Bigamy in the Marriage Mad Fifties
University of Iowa Press, 2016
Library of Congress HQ535.S46 2016 | Dewey Decimal 306.810973
Everyone got married in the 1950s, then moved to the suburbs to have the children of the soon-to-be-famous baby boom. For Americans who had survived the Great Depression and World War II, prosperous married life was a triumph. The unwed were objects of pity, scorn, even suspicion. And so in the 1950s, Eva Eldridge, no longer so young and marginally employed, was the perfect target for handsome Vick, who promised everything: storybook romance, marital respectability, and the lively social life she loved. When he disappeared not long after their honeymoon, she was devastated.
Eva hadn’t always been so vulnerable. Growing up pretty and popular in rural Oregon, she expected to marry young and live a life much like that of her parents, farming and rearing children. But then the United States threw its weight into World War II and as men headed to battle, the government started recruiting women to work in their places. Eva, like many other young women, found that life in the city with plenty of money, personal freedom, and lots of soldiers and sailors eager to pay court was more exhilarating than life down on the farm. After the war, she was ambivalent about getting married and settling down—at least until Vick arrived.
Refusing to believe her brand-new husband had abandoned her, Eva set about tracking down a man who, she now believed, was more damaged by wartime trauma than she had known. But instead of a wounded hero, she found a long string of women much like herself—hard-working, intelligent women who had loved and married Vick and now had no idea where—or even who—he was.
Drawing on a trove of some eight hundred letters and papers, Diane Simmons tells the story of Eva’s poignant struggle to get her dream husband back, as well as the stories of the women who had stood at the altar with Vick before and after her. Eva’s remarkable life illuminates women’s struggle for happiness at a time when marriage—and the perfect husband—meant everything.
Good Faith and Truthful Ignorance: A Case of Transatlantic Bigamy
Alexandra Parma Cook and Noble David Cook
Duke University Press, 1991
Library of Congress KKT174.N64C66 1992
Good Faith and Truthful Ignorance uncovers from history the fascinating and strange story of Spanish explorer Francisco Noguerol de Ulloa. in 1556, accompanied by his second wife, Francisco returned to his home in Spain after a profitable twenty-year sojourn in the new world of Peru. However, unlike most other rich conquistadores who returned to the land of their birth, Francisco was not allowed to settle into a life of leisure. Instead, he was charged with bigamy and illegal shipment of silver, was arrested and imprisoned. Francisco’s first wife (thought long dead) had filed suit in Spain against her renegade husband.
So begins the labyrinthine legal tale and engrossing drama of an explorer and his two wives, skillfully reconstructed through the expert and original archival research of Alexandra Parma Cook and Noble David Cook. Drawing on the remarkable records from the trial, the narrative of Francisco’s adventures provides a window into daily life in sixteenth-century Spain, as well as the mentalité and experience of conquest and settlement of the New World. Told from the point of view of the conquerors, Francisco’s story reveals not only the lives of the middle class and minor nobility but also much about those at the lower rungs of the social order and relations between the sexes.
In the tradition of Carlo Ginzberg’s The Cheese and the Worms and Natalie Zemon Davis’ The Return of Martin Guerre, Good Faith and Truthful Ignorance illuminates an historical period—the world of sixteenth-century Spain and Peru—through the wonderful and unusual story of one man and his two wives.
Prisoner for Polygamy: The Memoirs and Letters of Rudger Clawson at the Utah Territorial Penitentiary, 1884-87
Edited by Stan Larson
University of Illinois Press, 1993
Library of Congress BX8695.C32A4 1993 | Dewey Decimal 289.3092
This collection of the prison memoirs and letters of the first Mormon
convicted of violating the Edmunds Law, which prohibited polygamy, provides
a unique perspective on this period of Utah history. Rudger Clawson (1857-1943)
was a prominent member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints,
serving as missionary, stake president, apostle, president of the Quorum
of the Twelve Apostles, and counselor in the First Presidency.
His memoirs of three years as a "cohab" in the Utah Territorial
Penitentiary are published here for the first time. They reflect the pride
Mormon polygamists felt at being "prisoners for conscience sake,"
and they include discussions of Mormon doctrines, accounts of daring prison
escapes, details of prison life, and the sense of a husband's frustration
at being separated from his plural wife.