How were the testimonies in “Fruitage” verified?
We are sometimes asked how the testimonies of healing in Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, appearing in the final chapter titled “Fruitage,” were verified.
The current revision of “Fruitage” was compiled in 1906. Click here to read an article on our website with more information about its development. Principally, the testimonies came from accounts originally published in The Christian Science Journal and the Christian Science Sentinel.
We do not know a great deal about how the testimonies in “Fruitage” were verified. But our collection does provide insights as to how the process for verifying testimonies of Christian Science healing developed more generally over time.
When the Journal first began in 1883, it appears that there was no verification process for testimonials. In a September 1889 notice, the Editor of the Journal announced that the names of Christian Science practitioners and their patients, mentioned in testimonials, were kept on file. There is however no indication of a formal verification process.
“Fruitage” first appeared in Science and Health in January 1902. The chapter included this introduction: “For the assurance and encouragement of the reader, a few of these letters are here republished from The Christian Science Journal and Christian Science Sentinel. Most of the originals are in the possession of the Editor, who can authenticate the testimonials which follow.”1 Based on this description, it appears that keeping the original letter was considered the primary form of evidence that a testimony was factual.
In July 1902 Mary Baker Eddy made this comment to Ella L. Willis, the wife of John Willis, an editor of the Journal and Sentinel, concerning testimonies published in the Christian Science periodicals: “Please say to Mr. Willis the testimonials of students on healing are very important as evidence and he or some one should be careful to have them safely stored.”2
A desire to have further verification of testimonies arose in early 1904. The first verifications appear to have been letters from other individuals, vouching for the accuracy of accounts published in the periodicals. A testimony in the August 12, 1905, Sentinel includes this type of confirmation from the testifier’s mother.
“Fruitage” was revised in 1906, when nearly all of the testimonies from the 1902 collection were replaced. Eddy asked Edward E. Norwood to read and select testimonies for a revision of “Fruitage” in a new edition of Science and Health. She wrote: “Please read carefully all the Testimonials in the copy and select those which you consider the best and place the most attractive testimonials at the commencement of the chapter on ‘Fruitage.’”3 Of the new testimonies those published after January 1904 included the additional verification measures. It appears that when the process for revising “Fruitage” began, in November 1906, those who worked on the chapter relied on the same verification process that the Christian Science magazines employed. In his reminiscence, Norwood described this process for revising “Fruitage”:
… a large number of pages of Sentinel testimonies was sent me, and I was directed to select the best of them, revise them, prune them, mentioning not more than two diseases, and giving each a title. In fact, a new “Fruitage” was put in. This, itself, was quite a job, but of course I was glad to do it….4
When the revision of “Fruitage” was published in 1907, the language at the beginning of the chapter was also updated:
For the assurance and encouragement of the reader, a few of these letters are here republished from The Christian Science Journal and Christian Science Sentinel. The originals are in the possession of the Editor, who can authenticate the testimonials which follow.
With a few exceptions, the testimonies from the 1906–1907 revision are the same ones that appear in Science and Health today. Click here to read an article on our website discussing changes made to Science and Health after Eddy’s passing in 1910.