Family Bibles have been used over the centuries to record births, marriages, and deaths. In many family circles, they are traditionally used for daily reading and prayer as well as at these significant family events. Commonly, these Bibles are then handed down from generation to generation. The Baker family Bible, according to family tradition, was purchased by Mary Baker Eddy’s grandparents, Joseph and Maryann Baker, using their savings after they had married and established a home in Bow, New Hampshire. The Bible was later handed down to their son, Mark Baker, Mary Baker Eddy’s father. The Baker Bible, over two centuries old, was printed in 1795 in Edinburgh, Scotland, by Mark and Charles Kerr.
Mary Baker Eddy spoke of this “great old Bible” to Irving Tomlinson, a member of her household.1 She recalled that her father, Mark Baker, read from it at morning and evening devotions. Eddy shared her father’s love of the Bible throughout her life. Within its pages she found the principles upon which Christian Science was founded. Mary Baker Eddy herself stated: “The Bible was my only textbook.”2
In the fall of 2008, the Baker family Bible was transported to the Northeast Document Conservation Center [NEDCC] in Andover, MA, for conservation. Examination by NEDCC staff revealed that repair efforts made several decades ago had failed and should be removed. Also, excessive oiling of the over-cover had caused staining to the Bible’s pages over the years. Recommended conservation included surface cleaning, removing loose dirt, removing the old backing repair, and washing several pages to remove the staining. After treatment, the staff reassembled the Bible, mending tears, reinforcing sewing, and re-backing the binding with leather. The over-cover was then placed loosely over the repaired binding and barrier sheets were added between the text and boards to keep the cover from re-staining the newly cleaned pages.