“Augusta Stetson” in the Encyclopedia of American Women and Religion
Benowitz, June Melby. “Augusta Stetson.” Pages 335–37 of Encyclopedia of American Women and Religion. Santa Barbara: ABC-CLIO. 1998.
Historian Benowitz’s encyclopedia profile of Augusta Stetson is a chronology of her life: her devout Methodist upbringing in Maine, early promise as both musician and public speaker, marriage to a shipbuilder which took Stetson to London, India and Burma, the collapse of her husband’s business due to a lingering Civil War illness, the need to support herself and husband through public lectures, and finally coming into contact with Mary Baker Eddy in 1884. Eddy, recognizing Stetson’s oratory talent and leadership abilities, immediately invited her to join her classes, at the end of which Stetson became a Christian Science healer. Eddy soon sent Stetson to New York City in 1886 to establish Christian Science. The growth was so rapid that by 1903 the membership built a million-dollar Church building (over $30 million today) with a lavish home for Stetson next door. Stetson’s domination of the church and her unorthodox views increasingly became a problem for Eddy and the Christian Science Board of Directors, ending with Stetson’s excommunication in 1909. Regardless, Stetson actively continued to lead her own students, give public receptions and publish her views in a series of pamphlets. Later she formed a Christian Choral Society and “became a violent American jingoist and a strong believer in the superiority of the Aryan race” (337).
Annotations related by category:
- Availability: Library or Purchase
- Official Christian Science Publication: No
- People: Eddy, Mary Baker
- People: Stetson, Augusta
- Publication Date: 1981-2000
- Resource Types: Encyclopedia or Dictionary
- Subjects: Biographies and Chronologies
- Subjects: Church Manual, Governance, Leadership
- Subjects: Feminist Perspectives