Did Mary Baker Eddy say it? “When I established The Christian Science Monitor…”
Our research staff received a question about the authenticity of a statement in the third book of Robert Peel’s biographical trilogy, Mary Baker Eddy: The Years of Authority. Peel quotes Mary Baker Eddy as having said, “When I established The Christian Science Monitor, I took the greatest step forward since I gave Science and Health to the world.”1
In an extensive footnote on page 496, Peel explains why the authenticity of this statement has been contested. This includes a reference to Lee Z. Johnson, then Archivist of The Mother Church, who felt that accounts relating to the statement were hearsay and so could not be fully verified.
However, there is more to the story. In 1916, Adam H. Dickey, who had worked on Eddy’s staff during the time she founded the Monitor, was asked about this statement. He denied having ever heard (or heard of) it from her:
I do not remember ever having made the statement that “The establishment of the Monitor was the most important act since the discovery of Christian Science,” nor do I believe that Mrs. Eddy ever made this remark. It was without doubt a significant undertaking and one to which I am sure Mrs. Eddy attached a great deal of importance, but I would consider it incidental to the movement and not in any way as important as the above statement would make out.2
But then in 1924 Dickey contradicted himself, recollecting that he indeed had heard Eddy herself make the statement. He said this to an audience of church members:
The Monitor has a great destiny before it. On one occasion, when discussing the Monitor, the Leader of the Christian Science movement made a most significant statement to me. She said, “When I established The Christian Science Monitor, I took the greatest step forward that I had taken since I gave Science and Health to the world.” It meant a great deal for our Leader to make a statement of that kind, but she meant exactly what she said, and it remains for us to ponder this statement.3
Peel adds that, around 1934, Charles E. Heitman—then a member of the Christian Science Board of Directors—identified former members of Eddy’s household who verified Dickey’s 1924 statement. Unfortunately those verifications do not exist in our collections, and we do not have the names of the individuals Heitman contacted.
Peel summarizes Johnson’s conclusion in his footnote: “The Archivist finds Church records to be inadequate on this point.” Given the contradictions in the documentary record, we agree that these words attributed to Eddy can’t be fully authenticated.
- Robert Peel, Mary Baker Eddy: The Years of Authority (New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1977), 311.
- Adam H. Dickey to Nelvia Ritchie, 29 May 1916, Reminiscence.
- Adam H. Dickey, “Revised copy of talk given at the Monitor Meeting at Second Church of Christ, Scientist, Boston (Roxbury), March 31, 1924,” 31 March 1924, Reminiscence, 1.