Mary Baker Eddy’s discovery of Christian Science and founding of The First Church of Christ, Scientist, occurred during a period of political and social ferment in the United States—a time known as the Progressive Era. Everywhere, it seemed, conventional wisdom was being questioned and new ideas were being hatched about fairness, ethics, and how society, industry, and other parts of life should be organized and conducted.
Progressive-Era journalism emphasized exposés—detailed and often shocking reports of bad practices in business and government, exploitation of child labor, unsafe housing conditions, political corruption. Theodore Roosevelt was a champion of progressivism and reform. He admired investigative reporting, calling it “muckraking” for the way it stirred up economic and social ills in order to change them.
Lincoln Steffens, Ida Tarbell, and Upton Sinclair were some of the better-known muckrakers, and publications such as McClure’s, Collier’s, Scribner’s, and Cosmopolitan (a different Cosmopolitan from today’s) achieved wide circulation on the back of the revelatory articles they published.