Swensen documents how, in the fifteen years after the passing of Mary Baker Eddy (1910-1925), the Christian Science Board of Directors consolidated and centralized their authority both at Church headquarters and over local branch churches. Mirroring a corporate business model, church organization, administration, and standardization were merged with obedience and loyalty.View Annotation
Resources Discussing Augusta Stetson
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Although written for young readers, “A World More Bright” contains details for those interested in the personal side of Mary Baker Eddy’s life story. For those more familiar with other biographies on Eddy, this book offers new facts that may be useful for filling in gaps of historical interest. Typical biographical controversies are mentioned but not critiqued by the authors.View Annotation
Examining 32 branch church membership records, plus 800 testimonies of healing, between 1890-1910, Swensen provides a demographic history of the occupations, classes, and motivations of Christian Scientists across the country. Compared to the 1910 census, Swensen found five times more professionals in the branches and almost four times the managers/proprietors, but only one fifth the number of unskilled workers and farmers.View Annotation
Bibliographer Swensen provides a social profile of the membership, internal operations and founding leadership (Augusta Stetson and Laura Lathrop) of the two largest Christian Science churches in the eastern U.S.—First and Second Church, New York City. Accessing the church records and the extensive correspondence between Mary Baker Eddy and New York church members, Swensen sees his study as a window into the rocket-rise of this vibrant new movement as a whole.View Annotation
Swensen, Rolf. “‘You are Brave but You are a Woman in the Eyes of Men’: Augusta E. Stetson’s Rise and Fall in the Church of Christ, Scientist.” Journal of Feminist Studies in Religion 24, no. 1 (2008): 75–89. Augusta Stetson was the controversial founder and leader of the largest Christian Science church in the world—completed in 1903, a magnificent 1.2-million-dollar sanctuary located in New York City. She was one of many women at the turn.View Annotation
Gottschalk, an intellectual historian, left his post at the Christian Science Committee on Publication in 1990, uncomfortable with the leadership of the Church. Still considered a leading Christian Science scholar despite his criticism, he conducted extensive archival research for this book. Gottshcalk focuses on the last two decades of Eddy’s life and her effort to protect and perpetuate her religious teaching.View Annotation
Rolf Swensen, a social sciences bibliographer, describes the troubled early stages of the Christian Science movement in Portland under the leadership of two influential women, Blanche Hogue and Amorette Aldrich, and the churches they established. The source of contention appears to have been due to Hogue’s affiliation with and support from Augusta Stetson, a prominent Christian Science practitioner and teacher in New York City.View Annotation
Swensen documents the long-term effect of Alfred Farlow’s early crusade to protect the growing Christian Science Church from outside attacks, and muzzle an unrestrained and over-zealous faithful. He sees this protective stance as casting a long shadow over the content of future church periodicals, and the reason why members have since shown a deep reticence for personal outreach.View Annotation
Historian Benowitz’s encyclopedia profile of Augusta Stetson is a chronology of her life from devout Methodist upbringing, to public orator, to Eddy’s request for her to establish Christian Science in New York City, to her increasingly problematic leadership and eventual excommunication from Eddy’s Church.View Annotation
Gill, a feminist historian and biographer, offers a fresh view of Mary Baker Eddy’s achievements in the light of obstacles faced by women in her time. Without access to Church archives Gill relied on Peel’s archival research. Gill’s unique contribution challenges the traditional biographers’ view of Eddy as a hysterical invalid who abandoned her son and stole her ideas.View Annotation
Cunningham’s specialty lies with 19th-century American religious history focusing on women, institutions, money and power—perfect preparation for her PhD dissertation research on the fraught relationship of two charismatic women who rose from poverty to power and wealth: Augusta Stetson, a founding member and leader of the first Christian Science church in New York City, and Mary Baker Eddy, the founder of the Christian Science movement.View Annotation
Weatherbe’s book focuses on Stetson’s relationship to Mary Baker Eddy, and Stetson’s accomplishments with her own healing practice and leadership in Christian Science. Stetson’s crowning achievement was the building and development of her Christian Science Church in New York. The biography includes a brief account of Stetson’s pre-Christian Science years and a large section of backup documents.View Annotation
Volume three of Peel’s trilogy covers the final chapters of Mary Baker Eddy’s life—1892-1910—a time when Eddy struggles to balance her movement’s need for organization and preservation with its life-giving inspiration and revelation. As productive as these final decades were, Eddy’s life would continue to be plagued by personal attacks and legal suits that ultimately collapsed.View Annotation
This 1930 biography on Mary Baker Eddy appears in this contemporary bibliography because of its role in Christian Science history. Without access to church archives and drawing on others who discredited her, Dakin’s biography reads like a conspiracy theory against Eddy. An important comparison can be made between Dakin’s and Lyman Powell’s biographies of the same year.View Annotation
Stetson’s scrap-book type collection is a rich resource for primary documents related to the intense relationship of devotion and ultimate excommunication between Stetson and her teacher, Mary Baker Eddy. The first chapter is a review of Stetson’s ordeal with the Church. Pictures of the two women illustrate the contrast between Stetson’s preference for ‘the crown’ and Eddy’s preference for ‘the cross.’View Annotation
If Bellwald had had access to archival resources on Christian Science, he might have made a more accurate comparison between Christian Science and Roman Catholicism of the early twentieth century. His organizational approach to his study is well conceived, but he combines the resources of blatant polemics, Milmine and Peabody, with his own Catholic perspectives to denounce Christian Science.View Annotation
Stetson’s 405-page book is compiled by the New York City Christian Science Institute, with Stetson as its Principal, and serves as her defense against her excommunication from The Mother Church and her New York Church. The book includes the seven accusations from the Christian Science Board of Directors and the New York Church Committee’s efforts to vindicate Stetson.View Annotation
This 1,214-page scrapbook of Stetson’s own writings is the basis of her self-defense against the accusations and ultimate excommunication from her teacher, Mary Baker Eddy. Stetson blames her own disloyal students and others for attempting to destroy her and her work, while she (Stetson) remained loyal and loving toward Eddy.View Annotation
Peabody, legal counsel for Josephine Woodbury in a 1901 lawsuit against Mary Baker Eddy, lost the case, but continued accusing Eddy of immorality and abuse in this 1910 book. Peabody also supplied testimony against Eddy for McClure’s magazine, which led to another trial, the ‘Next Friends’ suit (that Eddy also won). Eddy had been counseled against publishing her 1901 response.View Annotation