A Notable Pioneer for Women's Rights Mary Baker Eddy Exhibit

By Duncan Moon, writer of The Christian Science Monitor | The Christian Science Monitor, March 9, 1998 | Go to article overview

A Notable Pioneer for Women's Rights Mary Baker Eddy Exhibit


Duncan Moon, writer of The Christian Science Monitor, The Christian Science Monitor


An exhibit on Mary Baker Eddy opened this past weekend at the National Park Service's Women's Rights National Historical park in Seneca Falls, N.Y., to mark her role as a women's rights advocate.

The founder of this newspaper, Mrs. Eddy has long been recognized publicly as a 19th-century religious leader who founded a worldwide church. But her accomplishments as women's rights reformer are less known.

"We found that there was a story there about Mary Baker Eddy that people don't know," says Mary Ellen Snyder, the chief of Interpretation and Visitor Services at the park. "They might know about her founding The Christian Science Monitor or the Christian Science Church, but they don't know what caused her, what motivated her to establish her beliefs and what kind of situation she was in as a women in the 1840s, and what leadership she brought to the women's rights movement." "She fits the pattern of reformers, like Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony, who at a time when women didn't take leadership roles, took a leadership stand," she adds. 'This is Woman's Hour' The title of the exhibit, "This is Woman's Hour" is taken from the booklet "No and Yes," first published in 1887, 33 years before women won the right to vote, in which Mrs. Eddy wrote: "In natural law and in religion the right of woman to fill the highest measure of enlightened understanding and the highest places in government, is inalienable.... This is woman's hour with all its sweet amenities and its moral and religious reforms." Ms. Snyder says the discovery of Mrs. Eddy's contribution to the women's rights movement dovetailed with a National Park Service initiative called the "untold stories concept" in which individual parks "focus on defining the theme each park is trying to interpret and finding parts of the story that aren't being told." A single mother At the time of the First Women's Rights Convention in Seneca Falls, N.Y., in 1848, Mrs. Eddy was still in her late 20s and living hundreds of miles away in New Hampshire. She was a single mother, who had lost rights to her own property and was struggling with chronic ill health. There was little to suggest to the casual observer that she would become one of the great religious reformers of the century and a committed advocate for women's rights.

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