Item of Interest

Christian Scientists and non-Christian Scientists have shown increasing interest in Mrs. Eddy's history and life, as well as in the history of the Christian Science movement. Some non-Christian Scientists have written with fair accuracy and care about Mrs. Eddy, and some Christian Scientists also; but unless writers have had access to the historical files of The Mother Church—a collection which is unprecedented in scope and significance in the history of the founding of any religious denomination—they have been obliged to base their statements mainly on already published historical material. Although occasionally today valuable reminiscences or historical data are contributed by those who have personal recollections of Mrs. Eddy as, for instance, William Dana Orcutt in The Christian Science Monitor of June 14, 1934, under the heading, "Celebrites off Parade," care must be used, after a lapse of years, that what is written is accurate. One test is, Does it accord with the proved historical data already collected?

Those who undertake to write interpretative biography often fail to get accurately the true viewpoints of the one of whom they are writing, because from their own standpoint they tell what their subject felt, knew, recognized, or intended; while the careful and experienced biographer usually knows that the way to discover the subject's actual thought is to learn what he has said or done. In other words, he writes known facts, and he authenticates his information by source, place, time, and so on. Christian Scientists who undertake to write about Mrs. Eddy have in advance a knowledge of the methods which she established for the issuance of authorized literature on Christian Science and on its Founder's life and work. Most of them would concede that a manuscript scrutinized by those familiar with the collected authentic historical data, whether published or unpublished, and then edited by those experienced in this work for The Christian Science Publishing Society and The Christian Science Board of Directors, has a greater chance of being accurately and carefully stated and having new interest than does a manuscript undertaken by an individual who does not restrict himself to what has been proved as fact.

It is obvious that a book issued with the approval of the Directors of The Mother Church, after access on the part of the author to particular parts of the historical files of the Church, contains facts better weighed with other known facts and is more worthy of reliance than one written without these facilities. Thus the book of Dr. Lyman P. Powell, added to the list of the Publishing Society's catalogue of books in 1930. was prepared with available and authentic helps, in that Dr. Powell had adequate access to the Church's historical files. The earlier biography of Mrs. Eddy, by Sibyl Wilbur, the first authorized biography sold by the Publishing Society, while written before the historical files of The Mother Church had been accumulated, was based, nevertheless, on much research in the days when many people who had known Mrs. Eddy personally or had been under her instruction could be personally interviewed. Since then this biography has been checked with the historical files and, if necessary, has been altered.

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January 19, 1935

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