Women of History: Julia Bartlett

April 7, 2017

Studio portrait of Julia Bartlett, n.d. PA00007.06. Unknown photographer.
Courtesy of The Mary Baker Eddy Library.

Along with Calvin Frye, Julia Bartlett was Mary Baker Eddy’s longest-serving aide and supporter. Born in East Windsor, Connecticut, in 1842, both of Bartlett’s parents had passed on by the time she was 16. She and her five younger siblings largely had to fend for themselves. “All this experience was not lost on me,” she later remembered, “and I am very grateful that the time came that I could forgive and forget all the seeming hardships of the past and love sincerely those through whom they came….”1

By the 1870s Bartlett was chronically ill and desperate for healing. According to her reminiscence, hope came to her in the form of a letter from a friend, sharing with Bartlett the message of Christian Science. Bartlett sent for Eddy’s book Science and Health, and also asked for the prayer of a Christian Science practitioner. Her friend mentioned this request to Eddy, who recommended Bartlett contact her husband, Asa G. Eddy. Soon after, Bartlett was healed.

In 1880 Bartlett took Christian Science class instruction with Eddy and joined the Church in 1881. From 1880 to her passing in 1924, Bartlett served the Cause of Christian Science with great vigor and devotion. One way she did so was after the passing of Asa Eddy in 1882. At that time Mary Baker Eddy left Bartlett in charge of the Massachusetts Metaphysical College while she spent time in Vermont. Eddy was impressed with Bartlett’s work during this time. “I am pleased and almost proud of your executive ability. You are just the girl for me,” she wrote in a letter from July 31, 1882.2 Bartlett would continue to serve the Cause of Christian Science as a practitioner and teacher. In 1887 she established the New England Academy of Christian Science. Its purpose was “to teach and promulgate Truth as declared in Christian Science including the practice of Christian Science healing.”3

Within a few years of her taking the class with Eddy, Bartlett was serving as an ambassador of Christian Science to places beyond the Boston area. She was one of the first people to bring Christian Science to the state of Vermont. Although Eddy had given a talk there in the town of Barton in 1882, Christian Science had yet to take hold. But in 1884 that would change. A woman Bartlett had healed in New Hampshire returned to Vermont, telling of the healing. The result of her “appearance of perfect health and strength” was a request for Bartlett to come speak.4 In her reminiscence she recalled:

I wrote them I would give an informal parlor talk in the evening. Arriving at the time appointed, I was met by the young woman who said there were so many who wanted to hear about Christian Science that I was to speak in a church. She little knew what that meant to me. I felt wholly unprepared to address such a body of people from the platform, having given no special thought as to what I should say as I expected to meet only a comparatively small number in a private house. When we reached the church and I saw a well-filled house, my courage almost failed me. Then I thought, “This is God’s work and He will take care of it,” and I took my place fearlessly, addressing the audience with no difficulty, and many believed and several were healed.5

Bartlett became an able and active representative for Eddy and the Church of Christ (Scientist) founded in 1879. She served as a member of its Board of Directors, as treasurer, and as President. (The church was reorganized by Eddy and her students in 1892 with a new name, The First Church of Christ, Scientist.) Bartlett practiced Christian Science healing until her passing, living for a number of years in the Allston neighborhood of Boston.

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  1. Julia S. Bartlett, “Reminiscence of Mary Baker Eddy,” n.d., Reminiscence, Julia S. Bartlett 1, 3.
  2. Mary Baker Eddy to Julia Bartlett, 31 July 1882, L07692.
  3. Records of the New England Academy of Christian Science, 19 January 1887, Subject File, Bartlett, Julia S.
  4. Julia S. Bartlett, “Reminiscence of Mary Baker Eddy,” n.d., Reminiscence, Julia S. Bartlett, 42.
  5. Ibid.