A Gifted Editor

  • Anne Holliday Webb

THE RECENT ACQUISITION of an excellent likeness of Mrs. Camilla Hanna (Mrs. Septimus J. Hanna) fills a conspicuous gap in our portrait collection of early workers in Christian Science exhibited in the Mary Baker Eddy Museum. Among these workers none was more loyal and consistent in her service than Mrs. Hanna, who, as Assistant Editor of The Christian Science Journal, and from 1898 of the Christian Science Sentinel, did much for over ten years to relieve Mrs. Eddy of editorial concern while she was reorganizing The Mother Church. The portrait is by the well-known portrait painter of California, Arthur Palmer, and was presented to Longyear Foundation by the Association of Pupils of Judge Hanna.

Mrs. Camilla Hanna – Arthur W. Palmer

Mrs. Hanna was the daughter of Marshall Turley, an inventor, of Council Bluffs, Iowa, and was educated in private academies. Her diploma for instruction in vocal music from Monticello Female Seminary is in the Hanna Collection at Longyear. She first heard of Christian Science through the healing of friends in Council Bluffs. At the time, she was living in Leadville, Colorado, where she and her husband, Judge Septimus J. Hanna, had gone for his health. She, herself, had suffered from semi-invalidism for some years. She wrote her family in Council Bluffs asking how the healings of their friends had been accomplished. Her father sent her a copy of Science and Health for a New Year’s gift in 1886. She was healed early that year. The book was in two volumes and at the time was called, “Science and Health with A Key to the Scriptures.” The undeniable help which Mrs. Hanna received from reading the book led Judge Hanna at length to study it seriously. He turned from indifference to religion, shared by Mrs. Hanna, to an admission that in this book he had found “a reasonable and logical presentation of God, man, and the universe.” He continued to investigate and demonstrate this truth for about four years and was then ready to turn from a legal career to a life dedicated to furthering “this great boon to mankind,” as he termed Christian Science.

He attended a meeting of the National Christian Scientists Association in Chicago in 1890, and while there was invited to come to Scranton, Pennsylvania, as preacher and teacher. Little did he then realize that he would return to Chicago three years later to read Mrs. Eddy’s Address at the World’s Parliament of Religions of the Columbian Exposition of 1893. In 1892 he was called to Boston to edit The Christian Science Journal. Always a co-worker with her husband, Mrs. Hanna became Assistant Editor when he accepted the editorship. For the next ten years, he and Mrs. Hanna were to be closely associated with Mrs. Eddy. Their early years in Boston coincided with the period when Mrs. Eddy was bringing into being The First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston.

They had private instruction with Mrs. Eddy — about seven lessons, some lasting two or three hours each. In 1898, they were invited to attend Mrs. Eddy’s last class and she bestowed upon each of them the degree of Doctor of Christian Science. Judge Hanna had many assignments incident to the unfolding of the Christian Science movement, and therefore, when the Christian Science Sentinel (then Christian Science Weekly) was established, much of the work of carrying out this assignment fell to Mrs. Hanna. Her responsibilities were further increased when Judge Hanna became pastor of The First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston in 1894 (Pul. 9: 16), and later, First Reader of this Church when the permanent pastor was ordained.

In 1898 Judge Hanna was made Vice-President of The Massachusetts Metaphysical College (Board of Education) a post he held until Mrs. Eddy’s passing when he became President. Both Judge and Mrs. Hanna served on the Bible Lesson Committee, he from 1893-1898; she for the year 1895.

JUDGE SEPTIMUS J. HANNA and MRS. HANNA, Co-workers in Christian Science.

Judge Hanna was continually employed in writing, not only for the Christian Science periodicals, but for pamphlets, magazines and the daily press. When the three-year rule for Readers was announced in 1902, he resigned as First Reader and at the same time he and Mrs. Hanna retired from their editorships. He was made a lecturer in 1902 and they moved to Colorado Springs as being centrally located for his new work. Although qualified to teach and practice Christian Science, it was not until they settled in Colorado Springs that they entered their names as practitioners in The Christian Science Journal.

In their new home, Mrs. Hanna had more time to give to her music which she seemed to have kept up over the years. A friend reports having heard her play a Beethoven sonata with great skill just the year before her passing. In 1907 Judge Hanna taught the Normal Class of the Board of Education, and the next year began his teaching of Christian Science, which continued with annual classes and associations throughout the rest of his life — to 1921. Judge and Mrs. Hanna had moved to California from Colorado in 1911 and after his passing she continued to carry on his Association and gave the annual address.

Judge and Mrs. Hanna brought the highest qualities of mind and judgment to serve Mrs. Eddy and the Cause of Christian Science in the 1890’s when the Church was expanding and finding response around the world. In the vital field of communication they could speak and write with understanding, clarity, and dedication.


This article was originally published in the 1969 spring Quarterly News.

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