National History Day: “Breaking Barriers in History”

The Mary Baker Eddy Library collections contain a variety of resources that pertain to the life and career of its namesake, Mary Baker Eddy. This includes the ongoing history of the institutions she founded, including the Church of Christ, Scientist, and The Christian Science Monitor, an international news source. Eddy broke barriers in many fields, including religion, publishing, and journalism. The Library’s archives provide a wealth of documents, photographs, and media content that reflect this history. Since its opening in 2002, many people, from historians to staff members, have used these materials to write books and articles, create audio and visual content, and develop exhibits.

Here are a few concepts that stood out to Library staff as germane to our collections—and to the theme “breaking barriers in history”:

Breaking barriers—women, religion, and society
Mary Baker Eddy in her study, 1900

Mary Baker Eddy in her study, 1900

What does it mean for a woman to be a religious leader in the United States of America?

Let it not be heard in Boston that woman . . . has no rights which man is bound to respect. In natural law and in religion the right of woman to fill the highest measure of enlightened understanding and the highest places in government, is inalienable. . . .
— Mary Baker Eddy, 1891 (Photo of Eddy in her study at Pleasant View)

Watch this video and read about Mary Baker Eddy’s noteworthy career as a religious leader, author, and founder of a Pulitzer-prize winning international newspaper.

Listen to these podcast episodes about Mary Baker Eddy as a barrier-breaker:

Topic: Women’s rights in religion

Topic: Legal Advocacy

Topic: Media Sensationalism and “Fake News” 100 years ago —the story of Joseph Pulitzer and Mary Baker Eddy.

Explore in our collections the much publicized court case called the “Next Friends Suit” that attempted to discredit Eddy, declare her incompetent, and deprive her of her property. It was a big story about celebrity journalism, fake news, and the power and ethics of the press.

In spite of all the bitter attacks and attempts to discredit her, by 1906 Eddy had prevailed in establishing a new religion, which was growing and flourishing around the world. . . . But Eddy faced one more daunting challenge in her final years: a suit brought against her by her son, adopted son, and other relatives, to control her and her estate—and the accompanying enormous press coverage that invaded the world of seclusion that she had tried to establish at Pleasant View.
— Peter A. Wallner, Faith on Trial: Mary Baker Eddy, Christian Science and the First Amendment (Concord, New Hampshire: Plaidswede Publishing, 2014)

Primary sources on the Next Friends Suit, e.g.:

  • Court transcripts
  • Hermann Hering Reminiscence, The Mary Baker Eddy Collection, The Mary Baker Eddy Library.
  • Georgine Milmine Collection, LSC004, The Mary Baker Eddy Library

Secondary sources on the Next Friends Suit, e.g.:

  • A World More Bright: The Life of Mary Baker Eddy by Isabel Ferguson and Heather Vogel Frederick (Boston, Massachusetts: The Christian Science Publishing Society, 2013).
    • Chapter 21, begins on page 177
    • Chapter 22, 180-192
  • Mary Baker Eddy by Gillian Gill (Cambridge, Massachusetts: Perseus Books, 1998).
    • Chapter 25, 471–496
    • Chapter 26, 497–520

Faith on Trial: Mary Baker Eddy, Christian Science and the First Amendment by Peter A. Wallner (Concord, New Hampshire: Plaidswede Publishing, 2014)

"The Christian Science Monitor"—breaking barriers in journalism

Where do spiritual values belong in news reporting?

Learn about the unique history and journalistic role of The Christian Science Monitor.

Become an expert in the history of the Monitor by exploring the recently opened collection of the papers of Erwin D. Canham, who served as editor from 1941 to 1964.

. . . the Monitor has always been profoundly dedicated to a crusading, reformative approach to human affairs. But it is an affirmative reformation, rather than an alarmist attitude. It springs from the profound purpose of the Monitor to contribute to the regeneration of all mankind.
— Erwin D. Canham, Commitment to Freedom: The Story of The Christian Science Monitor, (Boston, Massachusetts: Houghton Mifflin Co., 1958) (Photo of Erwin Canham with Dwight Eisenhower)

Topic: Beyond fake news: The Christian Science Monitor’s quest to seek deeper truth in journalism

Listen to this podcast episode:

Explore this article to see an example of material found in Canham’s papers in The Mary Baker Eddy Library archives.

Listen to this podcast about the Canham collection: (as of October 2019)

Primary sources, e.g.:

Secondary sources, e.g.:

  • The Christian Science Monitor: Its History, Mission, and People by Keith Collins (Lebanon, New Hampshire: Nebbadoon Press, 2012)
  • Commitment to Freedom: The Story of The Christian Science Monitor by Erwin D. Canham (Boston, Massachusetts: Houghton Mifflin Co., 1958)
Religion and the U.S. Armed Forces—military chaplains breaking barriers

Terry Erickson

What barriers should exist between church and state in the military?

The military chaplain service is the religious experiment of the world . . . and when it works, it is a rich, deep tapestry. But there are a lot of fears and a lot of infighting and a lot of religious conflict that can make it a very rough environment to work in—you have to have a lot of love, a lot of forgiveness, and a lot of guts to work in that career field.
— Air Force Chaplain, Terese (Teri) Erickson, Mary Baker Eddy Library Oral
History Project (Photo of Erickson)

Read these blogs:

Watch these videos:

Listen to these podcasts:

Learn about this exhibit:


Primary sources, e.g.:

  • Mary Baker Eddy Library oral history interview with Chaplain Terese (Teri) A. Erickson, US Air Force, 1983–present. Erickson is currently Endorser for Christian Science military chaplains.
  • Mary Baker Eddy Library oral history interview with Chaplain Carl (Sandy) Sandberg, US Army, 1970-1980.
  • Chaplain Walter S. Cross Papers, The Mary Baker Eddy Library. Cross was a U.S. Army chaplain in World War I.
  • Chaplain Richard Chase Papers, Church Records. Chase served as a US Army chaplain in World War II.
  • The Wartime Diaries of Chaplain Richard H. Chase, edited by Kim M. Schuette (2017).
  • “It Makes Christians: Fighting Army Chaplain Tells What Happens to Men’s Moral Values in the Stress of Battle” by Richard H. Chase, Life Magazine, October 4, 1943.

Secondary sources, e.g.:

  • Christian Science Military Chaplaincy 1917-2004 by Kim M. Schuette (Indianapolis: Brockton Publishing Co., 2008).
  • Cracking the Camouflage Ceiling: Faith Persistence and Progress in the Army Chaplaincy during the Early Integration of Women in the Military by Chaplain (Colonel) Janet Yarlott Horton, US Army (Ret) (Carmel, Indiana: Hawthorne Publishing, 2017).
  • Enlisting Faith: How the Military Chaplaincy Shaped Religion and State in Modern America by Ronit Stahl (Harvard University Press, 2017).

Please contact us at [email protected] with any inquiries. We have much more in our collections that tell important stories on the subject “breaking barriers in history.”

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