In the summer of 1906, Mary Baker Eddy began thinking about a revision to her book Pulpit and Press. She wanted to expand the short volume, which gives the story of the construction and dedication of the Original Edifice of The Mother Church. The revision would include an account of the Extension of the Church, completed and dedicated in June 1906. Eddy sent her wishes to the Christian Science Board of Directors in the form of a copy of Pulpit and Press.
Eddy included a note inside the book that provides the explanation:
“I propose that the C.S. Board of Directors add to this vol. a graphic full account including all that this Board wrote and all that other periodicals wrote in fact all that is favorable and has been written up to the date that you shall agree upon, — of the description etcetera of your magnificent Temple in Boston….1
Within a few months, Joseph Armstrong, a member of the Board of Directors as well as the Publisher of Eddy’s works, had compiled a large collection of newspaper and magazine clippings, to be reprinted in the book. But by this time Eddy had more in mind than reprinting from the daily papers – in fact, far more than a historical look at a church building. She told Armstrong:
“You will send me the matter for ‘The Mother Church of Christ Scientist and Miscellany’ – so soon as possible. I have already applied for copyright on this Book. It will contain in the Miscellany what you all need now, and what will do you more good than perhaps any other book of mine but S. & H.”2 [“S. & H.” is a reference to her book Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures.]
Researching in the archives, we find that Joseph Armstrong was not the only person collecting clippings. Calvin Frye later recalled that Laura E. Sargent, a longtime member of Eddy’s household, had been asked “to collect all articles which Mrs. E. had written and had been published and paste them on sheets suitable to compile for publication in book form….”3 This scrapbook may well be the result of Sargent’s efforts:
The proposed expansion of Pulpit and Press was fading in favor of a new book, titled The First Church of Christ, Scientist, and Miscellany. This volume would contain her writings published in newspapers and magazines from 1897 on (Miscellany), as well as the materials relating to the June 1906 dedication of the Extension (The First Church of Christ, Scientist). The book is a kind of sequel to two of her previous works: Pulpit and Press, and Miscellaneous Writings 1883-1896 (the 1897 collection of her previously published articles, poems, and sermons).
But work on “my new book,” as Eddy called it, soon slowed.4 We don’t know the reason why, though a look at the chronology of Eddy’s life shows us that late 1906 was an exceptionally eventful time. Her main focus was the completion of a major revision of Science and Health. But Eddy’s status as an international celebrity brought additional burdens. On October 28, 1906, a vicious series of articles on Eddy began in the New York World newspaper. A short while later, an equally malicious series commenced in McClure’s Magazine. By March 1907, a lawsuit – often called “The Next Friends Suit” – had been filed, with the intent of proving that Eddy was not competent, unable to manage her financial affairs. The proceedings did not conclude until the late summer of 1907.
Eddy may not have examined the Miscellany manuscript again until August 1909, when she spent some time with it but then laid it aside.5 After her passing in December 1910, a legal challenge to her will by family members temporarily halted any possibility of publishing the book. But by early 1913, with the end to the litigation in sight, Publisher Allison V. Stewart asked Calvin Frye, Eddy’s longtime secretary, for information on the manuscript. Frye’s response included his observation that Miscellany had been “laid aside to be pub’d at some future time….”6
It was probably not long after receiving Frye’s letter that Stewart began the process of preparing the manuscript for publication, with the primary task that of ensuring that the work was complete and accurate. By October 1913, the court’s decision had resulted in the appointment of trustees to administer Eddy’s estate; the Trustees under the Will of Mary Baker Eddy became the publishers of her works. On November 1, 1913, the Christian Science Sentinel announced that the book “is now in press, and orders will be received by the publisher.”7 The First Church of Christ, Scientist, and Miscellany has remained in print ever since.
- Mary Baker Eddy to the Christian Science Board of Directors, 30 July 1906, L15638.
- Eddy to Joseph Armstrong, 8 October 1906, L03007.
- Calvin Frye to Allison V. Stewart, 25 March 1913, L12614.
- Armstrong to Lewis Strang, 19 September 1906, L12631.
- Strang, 21 August 1909, L00621B.
- Frye to Stewart, 25 March 1913, L12614.
- “The First Church of Christ, Scientist, and Miscellany,” Christian Science Sentinel, November 1, 1913, http://sentinel.christianscience.com/shared/view/2d1y9b3vat2?s=t.