One of the most ornate volumes in The Mary Baker Eddy Library’s collection of books owned by Eddy is Bohemia, or as the full title of the book explains: Bohemia: Official Publication of the International League of Press Clubs for the Building and Endowment of the Journalists’ Home: A Symposium of Literary and Artistic Expressions by Men and Women Distinguished in Journalism, Art, Romance, Literature, Finance, Diplomacy, Politics and Statecraft. Especially Prepared and Voluntarily Contributed.
The idea of Bohemia was probably formulated at the annual convention of the International League of Press Clubs, which was held in Boston in June of 1902. The League was a social organization for journalists; the building of a “Journalists’ Home” was discussed at the convention, as well as fundraising for the undertaking.1 A little over a month later, Eddy received a letter from James S. McCartney, who was serving as Chairman and Treasurer for the building project.
The Journalists’ Home Committee of the International League of Press Clubs has but one excuse to offer for intruding this letter upon your time and attention…. Your kind offices are earnestly solicited in aid of a notable publication now being prepared for the press, the sale of which is to provide funds for the erection of a Journalists’ Home at New Orange, New Jersey, an institution broad and liberal in its scope … and which will be solely for their use in case of sickness, old age, or temporary disability…. [The International League] requests a short article from yourself, at least two or three hundred words, the theme or topic to be left to your selection….2
By this time, Eddy was a national celebrity, well known as an author, religious leader, and philanthropist. This may explain why McCartney (who was associated with the Philadelphia Record) contacted the leader of the Christian Science movement.
Just a few days later, Calvin Frye, Eddy’s longtime secretary, wrote Albert J. Miller, then Christian Science Committee on Publication for Pennsylvania. His letter is no longer extant, but he apparently asked Miller, who worked on a daily basis with newspapermen in Philadelphia, what he knew about McCartney and the International League’s project. Miller responded very favorably. He found that the volume was intended to be “a very elaborate affair of some five hundred pages, containing, among other things, articles by eminent people on the various movements and questions of the day.” He felt it was “an undertaking worthy of encouragement.”3
With Miller’s glowing assessment, Eddy quickly went forward, submitting an article titled “Fundamental Christian Science,” as well as a biographical sketch (signed by Judge William Ewing, but apparently ghostwritten by Eddy staffer Irving C. Tomlinson). In December 1902 Eddy was asked if she would like to “subscribe” to the publication. She asked her staff to order four copies. But it wasn’t until the summer of 1904 that the book was ready for publication. After some prodding by Albert Miller, Eddy finally heard from James McCartney. And in July Miller asked Frye what color Eddy would prefer for the book bindings. Her decision—“Any color except red.”4
Of the four volumes Eddy received, three are in the Library collections. Two remained in her possession, while the third was given to the Christian Science Board of Directors. The fourth copy of Bohemia was donated to the New Hampshire State Library in Concord, and remains a part of their collections.5
Eddy’s own copy of the book is truly remarkable. This “Imperial Edition de Luxe” is bound in cream colored leather, with Eddy’s coat of arms handpainted on the raised leather of the cover. There are also rich decorations on the spine:
Two additional copies in the collections, while not quite as lavish as this one, are equally lovely:
The contents of Bohemia are also outstanding. The book consists of hundreds of short essays, and the contributors to the volume include names familiar today, such as Admiral George Dewey, Cardinal Gibbons, John Hay (then US Secretary of State), Julia Ward Howe, John Philip Sousa, and Nikola Tesla. The high quality of the book and its contents makes the mystery of the subsequent history of Bohemia and the “Journalists’ Home” quite intriguing. The promised “Volume II” to Bohemia was never published; the Journalists’ Home in New Orange (now Kenilworth, New Jersey) was never built; and the International League of Press Clubs seems to have disappeared by 1910.
Eddy’s contribution to Bohemia, “Fundamental Christian Science,” may be found on pages 347-350 of her book The First Church of Christ, Scientist, and Miscellany.
- “League of Press Clubs,” Boston Evening Transcript, June 24, 1902.
- James S. McCartney to Mary Baker Eddy, 29 July 1902, IC 627.
- Albert J. Miller to Calvin Frye, 4 August 1902, IC 168.
- Frye to Miller, 29 July 1904, L09758.
- “A Notable Book,” Christian Science Sentinel, October 1, 1904, http://sentinel.christianscience.com/issues/1904/10/7-5/a-notable-book; “Gift that will be Treasured,” Christian Science Sentinel, November 12, 1904, http://sentinel.christianscience.com/issues/1904/11/7-11/gift-that-will-be-treasured.