New Additions to Longyear’s Early Worker Collection

  • Armin Sethna
Sisters Victoria (left) and Laura Sargent enjoy each other’s company at Chestnut Hill, Mrs. Eddy’s final residence.

“My dear sister ….”
“Precious child …”
“Ever lovingly …”
“Always with love …”

These tender greetings—from letters between Christian Science pioneers Laura and Victoria Sargent and their family members—hint at a depth of affection and connections that spanned long distances (from Boston to the Midwest) and many decades (from the 1890s through the 1940s).

The letters—three binders-full, including the original handwritten missives and their stamped envelopes—are part of a recent donation to Longyear Museum by descendants of Victoria Sargent.1 (Victoria was periodically called to serve in Mrs. Eddy’s homes, where her sister Laura worked nearly continuously from 1890 onward.) The correspondence contains snippets of daily news and activities, statements of spiritual encouragement, and mentions of gifts exchanged, such as boxes of candy and a suit of clothing. One faded early letter even has a recipe for suet pudding on the back. (In addition to suet, the ingredients include raisins, molasses, sugar, and “sour milk,” plus cinnamon and other flavorings.)

All the letters are in excellent condition, and the donor had arranged them chronologically and attached printed transcriptions of their contents. Receiving such a well-organized gift is especially appreciated. “We were delighted by the care the donor has given to their family’s archives, which has made the transition into our Collections much easier,” notes Longyear’s Director of Collections Deb Wold.

The donated collection also includes several photographs taken at Chestnut Hill as well as a Christian Science Hymnal, inscribed with Laura Sargent’s name, that has been placed in Mrs. Sargent’s restored room on the top floor at 400 Beacon Street, Mrs. Eddy’s final residence. Our staff are meticulously going through every document and artifact, to describe, photograph, and enter each item with a unique identifying number into Past Perfect, the museum industry software that Longyear uses to manage its historical collections. This program allows researchers to access the content of archival documents and information on artifacts in Longyear’s collections.

Over its century of activity, Longyear Museum’s collection of documents, artifacts, and evidence related to the life of Mary Baker Eddy has continued to grow, adding to our understanding and appreciation of her life and mission. Many items in our collection—ranging from a small pincushion to large pieces of furniture to entire buildings (Mrs. Eddy’s former residences)— were obtained during the 1920s by Christian Science philanthropist and museum founder, Mary Beecher Longyear. In the decades since, artifacts have continued to flow into Longyear through generous donations  from The Mother Church, The First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston, as well as from individuals.

Note: Longyear is always grateful to receive inquiries from individuals or organizations who believe they are in possession of unique, original items relating to the lives of Mrs. Eddy and early Christian Science workers. Prior consultation before sharing such items allows Longyear Museum to assess condition, avoid duplication, and make informed acceptance decisions.


  1. The two Sargent sisters (nee Adams) were married to two brothers from their Wisconsin hometown—James Sargent (Laura) and Henry Sargent (Victoria). Learn more about their family ties and service to the Christian Science movement in this article.
  2. Laura Sargent stayed on at 400 Beacon Street after Mrs. Eddy’s passing until 1915. Victoria then served as caretaker from 1915–1930, after which her daughter Minnie Sargent McDonald was custodian until 1950.