Join in a discussion on the meaning of marriage for Mary Baker Eddy in her personal life, as well as her writings. How did these relationships relate to the broader culture of her era? Married three times, Eddy was widowed twice and divorced once. Each relationship was quite different, and each reflected radical changes that were taking place around ideals and expectations for marriage in the nineteenth century—changes that continue to resonate today.
Podcast guests Stephanie Coontz and Mike Davis bring us into a time when ideas around the “love match” and “soulmates” were first emerging in American society. Prior to this period it was rare to marry primarily for love. In her parents’ generation, marriage was a practical, economic concern; for Eddy, emotional issues were of far more importance. This episode also features letters that she wrote and received, reflecting the profound influence all three marriage relationships had in shaping the trajectory of her life—from a young bride to a major public figure.
Access more on this topic:
- Letters from the Mary Baker Eddy Papers:
Stephanie Coontz is Director of Research at the Council on Contemporary Families and an emerita professor of history at The Evergreen State College in Olympia, Washington. She has authored seven books on family and gender issues, including The Way We Never Were: American Families and the Nostalgia Trap and Marriage, A History: How Love Conquered Marriage, which was cited in the 2015 Supreme Court decision in the Obergefell v. Hodges same-sex marriage case. She is a frequent contributor to The New York Times and CNN and has appeared on many national television shows.
Mike Davis has worked for over 30 years with the historical collections now housed in The Mary Baker Eddy Library. He holds a master’s in library science from San Jose State University. He has given talks on the history of Christian Science and is the author of several historical articles published in the Christian Science periodicals. His current work is primarily with the Mary Baker Eddy Papers project, annotating Eddy’s correspondence and providing context for it through writing historical essays.