How do I find out what’s in the Library’s collections?

December 6, 2021

Finding Aids page on MBEL website

The collections at The Mary Baker Eddy Library contain many thousands of items. These include letters, manuscripts, photographs, objects, books, periodicals, and other materials.

In order to assist you in exploring our holdings, we have “finding aids.” Like their name implies, these are tools that can help you locate information in a specific area, such as a record group, collection, or series of materials. The more you use finding aids, the more you’ll become familiar with the Library’s collections.

Here’s how to use the finding aids:

  1. On our website, hover over the “Research” tab on the menu bar.
  2. Click “Finding aids” on the drop-down menu.
  3. Click on any category.

The finding aids page will introduce you to three main categories and give information on what they include:

  • The Mary Baker Eddy Collection
  • Library Special Collections
  • Organizational Records of The First Church of Christ, Scientist

The Mary Baker Eddy Collection

If you choose this category, you’ll find two links and 12 accordion boxes to explore. To expand an accordion box, click on the plus sign (“+”).

All boxes have a description of the materials they include. Many also link to a finding aid. Click on it for detailed information.

One file of interest may be “Mary Baker Eddy Outgoing Correspondence, c. 1835–1910.” But here you’ll notice that there is no finding aid! Nevertheless, you can still read many of Mrs. Eddy’s letters—her “outgoing correspondence.” The Mary Baker Eddy Papers project is a long-term effort of the Library to transcribe, annotate, and publish all of Eddy’s outgoing and incoming correspondence. To date, we’ve published correspondence from about 1836 to 1887. Click on the link to the Papers website at the top of The Mary Baker Eddy Collection page.

Library Special Collections

This category has 28 accordion boxes to browse. Expand them for a summary of what’s in each file. Many also include finding aids that will allow you to dig deeper.

Organizational Records of The First Church of Christ, Scientist

The records in this category do not yet have finding aids. However, summaries of four areas are available, as well as an index of Early Organizational Records c. 1875–1910. Look for more access to this collection in the future.

Keep exploring

Using finding aids will help you to become familiar with what the Library’s collections include. But they won’t take you to the documents themselves. So how do you get from the finding aid to an actual document? One way is to use the finding aid as a means of identifying what interests you.

For example, the Library Special Collections include the Frederica L. and William N. Miller Collection. The Millers were early English Christian Scientists. The finding aid summarizes this collection, including a description of its contents. The first box is described: “Box 1, Frederica L. Miller Correspondence, 1857–1906” and is followed by the titles of the folders within that box. In order to read these materials, you have two options: 1) You may visit our public research room or, 2) You may email or call us and request scans or hard copies of documents for a modest charge. Our staff will also be happy to detail the contents of a box or folder before you order anything from it, to make sure it is really what you want. (If you’re planning to visit us on-site, it’s always a good idea to let us know in advance, so we can be sure to have everything ready for you.)

Please remember this: if you don’t find the information you need by using one of our finding aids, you can always ask a researcher your questions by emailing us at [email protected] or using the research form on our website. We always look forward to assisting you.

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