From the Papers—Part Two: Learning from Letterhead
Our work on the Mary Baker Eddy Papers includes research into Mary Baker Eddy’s correspondents, which we publish on our website as short biographies. We check genealogical databases, church files, and other sources for anything we can find about these individuals. Sometimes we can also learn about them from the very paper they used to write their letters.
Our article Part One: Learning from Letterhead, published in 2018, discussed the stationery that some of Eddy’s correspondents used in communicating with her. We’d like to share another installment of unique examples of letterhead that we’ve since found in working on her papers.
Interest in Christian Science continued to be strong among those active in the temperance movement—a cause Eddy herself was involved in for a time. Harriette D. Walker wrote to her on the stationery of the Rhode Island Women’s Christian Temperance Union, inquiring about taking Christian Science class instruction.1 Walker hoped to attend Eddy’s next class, but it conflicted with her involvement in the National Women’s Christian Temperance Union convention. The Union’s letterhead featured the quote “For God, and Home, and Native Land,” which is likely a reference to a temperance song of the same name by Henry B. Funk and E. P. Moffitt.
Eddy received a letter from another composer of such songs, Solomon B. Straub, inquiring about the wholesale price for Science and Health2 In 1883 Straub published Temperance Battle Songs! For the Use of Choirs and Glee Clubs in All Kinds of Temperance Meetings. His stationery described him as a “Music Publisher” and referred to his publication The Song Friend as “a monthly magazine for the people.” Like other similar publications of the time, it promoted the music published by Straub’s firm and included articles on relevant topics and some sheet music.3 Straub was also involved in other music education pursuits throughout the midwestern United States.
Through these two pieces of letterhead, we find clues about both Walker and Straub. Digging deeper, we also learn a bit about the temperance movement, as well as the music and culture of the time.
Eddy received letters from many other businesspeople. A number of them wrote of trying to sell their businesses in order to devote more time to practicing Christian Science. Their letterheads often revealed more details about their work. For example, J. Newton Stone, who learned of Christian Science through his sister, M. Bettie Bell, wrote: “…am sorry to say I am not progressing very fast as I have so much work to do I don’t have time to study and practice. I am trying to sell out my business so I can devote all of my time to the Science & hope I will succeed soon.”4 Stone’s stationery showed that he sold everything from groceries to several types of fine pottery.
Letters received from J. Allan Campbell, whose letterhead showed that he was a sculptor, don’t mention his leaving that business. However, they did indicate he had a strong interest in doing more for the Christian Science movement, including the desire to organize a Christian Scientist Association in New York.5 After his first letter to Eddy, subsequent letters written on his stationery appear with the letterhead crossed out. Perhaps this was his way of showing that this correspondence was about Christian Science, rather than business.
These selections only show some of the letterhead we’ve recently published at mbepapers.org. From them we learn about the business and culture of the time—and catch a glimpse into the lives of the individuals writing to Eddy. We’ll continue to share installments of this unique aspect of Eddy’s incoming correspondence.
Part One: Learning from Letterhead was published on December 3, 2018.
- Harriette D. Walker to Mary Baker Eddy, 21 October 1885, https://mbepapers.org/?load=721AP1.88.029.
- Solomon W. Straub to Mary Baker Eddy, 2 June 1884, https://mbepapers.org/?load=952.93.040.
- Hash, Phillip M. “Solomon W. Straub (1842–1899): A Self-Made Music Educator on the Prairie.” Journal of Historical Research in Music Education 37, no. 1 (2015): 51–74. Accessed 7 May 2021. https://www.jstor.org/stable/26376894.
- J. Newton Stone to Mary Baker Eddy, 7 January 1886, https://mbepapers.org/?load=577.59.007.
- J. Allen and Lysbeth L. Campbell to Mary Baker Eddy, 22 October 1885, https://mbepapers.org/?load=528.57.009.