National History Day—”Communication in History: the Key to Understanding”
Welcome to the Mary Baker Eddy Library! We’re excited to welcome National History Day participants to research in our collections and take advantage of our online resources. As you might expect, our on-site research room is currently closed, but our research staff is still hard at work responding to questions and supporting individual research projects. If you have any questions, please reach out to us at [email protected].
The Mary Baker Eddy Library collections contain a variety of resources that pertain to the life, career, and legacy of Mary Baker Eddy (1821–1910). Her story, and the story of the Christian Science religious movement that she founded, coincided with the emergence of mass media and the expansion of educational opportunity in the United States. Eddy was innovative in how she communicated about her church and the spiritual vision it represented. This included publishing a religious journal, establishing a college, and even founding a secular newspaper, The Christian Science Monitor, to cover the news in a way that was both real and humane.
Many thousands of documents tell these stories, such as letters, reminiscences of people who knew Eddy and worked with her, the full 140-year archive of her publishing society (including the Monitor), and hundreds of images related to these activities.
Since the Library’s opening in 2002, many people, from historians to staff members, have used its collections to write books and articles, create audio and visual content, and develop exhibits.
Learn more about our work with NHD through our podcast
Last year Seekers and Scholars, the Library’s podcast series, introduced our audience to NHD with Episode 33: National History Day—transforming students’ lives in archives. This October we thought it was a good idea to remind students, their families, and their mentors that even in a pandemic, when access to primary sources might seem difficult, National History Day is still operating—and The Mary Baker Eddy Library has many online resources related to this year’s theme.
Sample topics on this year’s theme
The Christian Science Monitor newspaper—keys to human rights
The Monitor has always been profoundly dedicated to a crusading, reformative approach to human affairs.
—Erwin Canham, Editor, The Christian Science Monitor, 1945-1964
In 1908, Mary Baker Eddy founded a newspaper with the stated object “to injure no man but to bless all mankind.” Since then The Christian Science Monitor has gone on to win many esteemed awards for journalism, including seven Pulitzers. According to the Monitor, it “is produced for anyone who cares about the progress of the human endeavor around the world and seeks news reported with compassion, intelligence, and an essentially constructive lens”. The full archive of the Monitor is available through ProQuest. If your school does not have a subscription, contact us about accessing it through our research service. All of the Pulitzer prize-winning series are available, including David Rohde’s Nov 16 1995 investigative report on the gross human rights violations in Bosnia, including the massacre at Srebrenica. You’ll also find Howard James’s series “Children in Trouble: A National Scandal,” which alerted US citizens to the plight of children who found themselves in conditions of delinquency and crime1, as well as Katherine Fanning’s series “Children in Darkness,” which explored child slavery and exploitation around the world. If you’re interested in the editorial process of a new publication, we also have in our collections the proof copy of the Monitor’s first issue.2
We’ve also showcased certain aspects of the Monitor through web articles and events. For instance the articles on Cora Rigby, bureau chief for the Monitor and founder of the Women’s National Press Club, and Katherine Fanning, the first woman to run a national newspaper, show how women from the Monitor were able to pave the way for other women in the field of American journalism. The video In Word and Deed: Public Service and the Press provides a panel discussion about how the Monitor and its readers have worked together to bring about positive social change. And Mandela visits the Monitor shows how an important historical figure, Nelson Mandela, valued the newspaper’s coverage of events in South Africa and the world. He also indirectly explained how the paper was fulfilling its mission “to injure no man, but to bless all mankind.”
Mary Baker Eddy and The Massachusetts Metaphysical College
The history of the Mass. Metaphysical College is yet unwritten. This school is the first of its kind in America or Europe of which we have a history and unlike other colleges its course of instruction uplifts the standard of ethics while its practice includes the divine rule and demonstrates the scientific Principle of Christian healing.
— Circular for the Massachusetts Metaphysical College, 1882 (est.)
Through primary and secondary resources available at the Library, you can discover the world of Eddy’s Massachusetts Metaphysical College, which she founded in early 1881. Her curriculum included courses that provided keys to a new understanding of “Pathology, Ontology, Therapeutics, Moral Science, and Metaphysics as adapted to the treatment of disease.”3
Examples of primary sources related to the Massachusetts Metaphysical College:
- A10214, Notices for the Massachusetts Metaphysical College
This pamphlet shows what Eddy thought to be her College’s purpose and place in history.
- 549.58.001/ L07822 Correspondence between Eddy and a potential student
This exchange, revealing what a student was looking for and what Eddy hoped to offer through her class, conveys the importance that she placed on instruction in her college, as a means for communicating her ideas.
- Julia Bartlett reminiscence, p.25
Bartlett’s firsthand reminiscence includes a section detailing her experience working for Eddy during the time the Massachusetts Metaphysical College was active.
- L18635, autograph album
This was a gift to Eddy and contains the signatures of the students from one of her classes, as well as her own. It gives insight into the college and the relationships that were created there.
Examples of secondary sources related to the Massachusetts Metaphysical College:
- ARTICLE: The Massachusetts Metaphysical College, Boston
This is a web article giving an introduction and explanation of the college.
- ARTICLE: Learning from Letterhead
Through the lens of their stationery, this article tells about the people who wrote to Eddy during the time her college was open. It includes links to the original letters.
- ARTICLE: Opening doors, opening minds: The business and calling cards of Mary Baker Eddy
This article looks at Eddy’s calling cards and business cards, including some in use during the time of her college.
- ARTICLE: From the Papers: Printed form letters
Another example of Eddy’s need for effective communication, this article shows the steps she took to streamline her communication to a growing number of student inquirers. It includes links to several primary source letters.
Mary Baker Eddy—Communicating a new religious idea
Our Journal is designed to bring health and happiness to all households wherein it is permitted to enter, and to confer increased power to be good and to do good.
— Mary Baker Eddy
In 1883 Eddy launched the Journal of Christian Science, later renamed The Christian Science Journal. While her major work, Science and Health, provided a full explanation of her teachings, she also needed a more dynamic platform from which she could engage with the public. Additionally, books were still very expensive items in late nineteenth-century America, and a magazine provided a much more affordable way to share her ideas.
For example, letter 661B.71.042 presents a question to Eddy about her teachings. She answers this question in the February 1884 Journal, showing how she used it for answering such inquiries for a wider audience. Another letter, 713A.86.064, demonstrates how advertisements in the Journal helped sell Science and Health and provided an important means of spreading her ideas to areas far from her Boston publishing base. A third letter, 688A.78.040, is from the editor of another periodical and celebrates how such an ably edited and beautiful publication is devoted to both healing the sick and reforming sinners.
NOTE: The Christian Science Publishing Society (in operation to this day) offers access to the complete archive of The Christian Science Journal and other periodicals Eddy established. It is fully searchable with previews of articles. While full access is by subscription, access to individual articles can be arranged for research-related requests.
For more information and assistance, please be in touch with us at [email protected].
Please contact us at [email protected] with any inquiries. We have much more in our collections that tell important stories on the subject “Communication in History: the Key to Understanding.”
- “Children in Trouble: A National Scandal” late-1960’s series of articles by Monitor reporter Howard James
- Sept 15, 1908. Drawer 02-14, Library Special Collections.
- “Curriculum of Massachusetts Metaphysical College, Boston, also Constitution and By-Laws of C.S.A,” (Boston: Massachusetts Metaphysical College, 1886), The Mary Baker Eddy Library Collection.