Category: Digital Resources

Carlos S. Alvarado, PhD, Research Fellow, Parapsychology Foundation

Many of us are not going out much due to the virus crisis. Recently someone told me in an email that they are bored at home. With that in mind, now is a good time to catch up with the old psychic literature.

Because my main interest is the history of parapsychology, I would like to present some reading suggestions about important books published before 1923 freely available online that I hope you will enjoy.

I will start with some general overview books published in English, and will cover other titles in future blogs.

Barrett, W. F. (1911). Psychical research. New York: Holt.


William F. Barrett

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Barrett, W.F. (1917). On the threshold of the unseen (2nd rev. ed.). London: Kegan Paul, Trench, Trubner.

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Joire, P. (1916). Psychical and supernormal phenomena. London: Rider.

Paul Joire

Paul Joire

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Kingsford, S.M. (1920). Psychical research for the plain man. London: Kegan Paul, Trench, Trubner.

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Lambert, H.C. (1928). General survey of psychic phenomena. New York: The Knickerbocker Press.

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Podmore, F. (1897). Studies in psychical research. New York: G.P. Putnam’s Sons.

Frank Podmore

Frank Podmore

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Podmore, F. (1908). The naturalisation of the supernatural. New York: G.P. Putnam‘s Sons.

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Richet, C. (1923). Thirty years of psychical research. New York: Macmillan.

Charles Richet 10

Charles Richet

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 Wright, G.E. (1920). Practical views on psychic phenomena. New York: Harcourt, Brace & Howe.

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Carlos S. Alvarado, PhD, Research Fellow, Parapsychology Foundation

Since my last comment about the Psi Encyclopedia, an online project managed by Robert McLuhan and sponsored by the Society for Psychical Research, several more additions have been posted to this reference work.

Some of them are about specific phenomena and concepts:

Does Something Leave the Body? (OBE Historical Perspective) (by Carlos S. Alvarado)

Dreams and Past-Life Memory (by James G. Matlock)

Jim Matlock 2

James G. Matlock

Observational Theories of Psi (by Brian Millar)

Psychological Aspects of Poltergeist Cases (by Bryan Williams)

Sinclair Telepathy Experiments (by Karen Wehrstein)

Sinclair Mental Radio

There are also many entries about individuals who have worked in parapsychology, both in the past and in recent years. These include:

Tony Cornell (by John Fraser)

Arthur Conan Doyle (by Karen Wehrstein)

Arthur Conan Doyle

Arthur Conan Doyle

Hoyt Edge (by Michael Duggan)

Camille Flammarion (by Carlos S. Alvarado)

Camille Flammarion Posing

Camille Flammarion

Carl Jung (by Everton de Oliveira Maraldi and Maria de Fátima Fernandes)

William McDougall (by Karen Wehrstein)

William McDougall 2

William McDougall

John Palmer (by Michael Duggan)

Chris Roe (by Michael Duggan)

D. Scott Rogo (Callum E. Cooper)

D. Scott Rogo

D. Scott Rogo

 William Roll (by Karen Wehrstein)

Jessica Utts (by Michael Duggan)

Jessica Utts 4

Jessica Utts

Mario Varvoglis (by Michael Duggan)

In addition, there are entries about such varied topics as American Society for Psychical Research (James G. Matlock), Edgar Cayce (Karen Wehrstein), and Journal of Parapsychology (Carlos S. Alvarado).

Edgar Cayce

Edgar Cayce

At this point the Psi Encyclopedia has been in existence for a few years, having accomplished so much. Robert McLuhan’s efforts in putting hundreds of entries together has contributed greatly to the dissemination of information about parapsychology. But, the Psi Encyclopedia has matured as a online reference source for people already in the field and new to the field. It is now at a point in its development, it seems to me, that its potential for future usefulness to all its constituencies could be maximized by taking a more formal turn. Considering this, I would like to offer some suggestions for the future of the encyclopedia.

Similar to other reference works on other topics, Psi Encyclopedia could use an editorial board to help the editor balance the mix of entries towards making sure that important lines of research or areas of interest are represented in biographical entries, and in more general entries. Another important project would be to encourage a general review of already-published articles written by non-specialists in the field. By bringing in specialists possible mistakes and important omissions in some entries could be detected. One example of an entry that could benefit from this type of review is “Psi Research in North America”. The entry contends that experimental work began in the United States with J. B. Rhine’s work. The story of experimental psi research in North America is not complete without the work of the early ASPR members (e.g., Bowditch et al., [1886]. Report of the committee on thought-transference. Proceedings of the American Society for Psychical Research, 1, 106–112) and the work of such researchers as John E. Coover (Coover, J. E. [1918]. Experiments in psychical research at Leland Stanford Junior University. Stanford, CA: Stanford University) who published their research in this area long before J. B. Rhine ever thought of moving away from botany towards psychical research. Other examples could also be mentioned. 

Coover Experiments 2

Regarding omissions, some entries do not include important references, something that may well have been noticed by knowledgeable reviewers and well-read newcomers. Among the key references that are missing are: D.J. West’s Eleven Lourdes Miracles (New York: Helix Press, 1957) that should be in the entry Lourdes Cures); Olivier Leroy’s Levitation (London: Burns, Oates & Washbourne, 1928) that should be in the entry Religious Levitation), and Juliette-Alexandre Bisson’s Les phénomènes dits de materialisation (2nd ed., Paris: Félix Alcan, 1921) that should be in the entry Marthe Béraud (Eva C.).

Eleven Lourdes Miracles Cover

An editorial board that represents different areas and topics of parapsychology could also assist the editor to find additional authors to write more entries. McLuhan has worked consistently to increase the author pool, approaching some people in parapsychology for suggestions and following up, and of course, such projects are entirely dependent on the willingness to participate among the potential authors, no matter how dedicated the chief editor might be. But I believe that an editorial board could greatly expand McLuhan’s reach and make the job of finding and soliciting willing authors much easier.

An understandable bias prevalent in the Encyclopedia is its current reliance on English-language developments. As a mature reference, Psi Encyclopedia, needs to live up to its goals of representing the field as a whole. I have noticed that several articles about phenomena lack proper references to non-English-language sources. I have also noticed that 80% of the entries covering psychic researchers and authors of books and articles psychic phenomena are from English-speaking countries (80%). (An article in the encyclopedia about psychical research in Europe, and others about Brazil, France, and the Netherlands help to correct this situation.) Although biases are inevitable when few of those working on the encyclopedia are English-speakers with working knowledge of other languages, having an editorial board chosen for their content and language expertise can greatly enhance the completeness of the encyclopedia’s coverage of the field. 

Another suggestion: to improve the information value of the articles it is a good idea to craft the entries to follow a similar outline. Such instructions for the authors would need to include the flexibility to modify entries to accommodate differing needs. For example, all entries about specific researchers could have a basic biographical section about their lives and work unrelated to their psychic studies. Such a section would be useful even if it is brief. In addition, as is common in many encyclopedias, there could be a section at the end of all entries that presents relevant bibliography for the reader’s follow-up. Such a section should include basic sources of information about the topic in question, including general overviews of research and theory, or, in the case of individuals, deeper biographical and even autobiographical books and articles. Taken together with links to other related entries in the Psi Encyclopedia, such a section could extend the usefulness of the resource to students and teachers alike.

There are certainly many topics that have not yet been covered at all. Among these are those related to experimental work and to mediumship. While the coverage of past lives is broad and interesting, I wonder why there are 55 entries about various aspects of the topic when so many other important topics have no representation in the encyclopedia at all as of yet. I suppose this reflects the interests of some industrious frequent contributors who enthusiastically propose and complete entries of interest to themselves. I have been one of those who has proposed and completed entries on topics that are of interest to me. But, even though this imbalance is well-motivated and understandable, achieving a managed balance of topics and authors would be desirable, if only to inform the public that there are other important phenomena with multiple aspects, among them ESP and near-death experiences.

While there is room for improvement, it is important to recognize the extraordinary accomplishment Robert McLuhan has crafted for the field in such a short period of time. Without McLuhan’s energy and dedication to this project, the Psi Encyclopedia would not have taken such a central place on the map of reference sources in the field. As a work in progress, I believe that the encyclopedia will continue to evolve into a more complete and more useful reference work.

Carlos S. Alvarado, PhD, Research Fellow, Parapsychology Foundation

I was recently exploring old issues of the Italian journal Luce e Ombra (LO). Initially edited by Angelo Marzorati, this publication started in 1901 and had a spiritualistic orientation. There are many issues of LO in the International Association for the Preservation of Spiritualist and Occult Periodicals (Search here.)

Luce e Ombra 1902

Luce e Ombra 1907

Luce e Ombra 1922

LO is very important to understand 20th century Italian interest in spiritualism and psychical research. The collection has the following years: 1902-1903, 1907-1913, and 1915-1929. My colleague in Italy, Dr. Massimo Biondi, a fountain of knowledge regarding the Italian history of Spiritism and psychical research, recently told me in an email that there are more issues of this journal available online at the digital library of the Biblioteca Nazionali Centrale di Roma, including those published in later years with a different title, La Ricerca Psichica (1932-1939).

Massimo Biondi

Massimo Biondi

Ricerca Psichica

LO has fascinating articles. A frequent contributor was Ernesto Bozzano, who I have mentioned before in this blog (click here and here). Bozzano published many multi-part articles in LO (as well as books) discussing various psychic phenomena and presenting a great number of cases from the spiritualist and psychical research literatures. Some examples are the following:

Ernesto Bozzano 2

Ernesto Bozzano

(1911). Considerazioni ed ipotesi su fenomeni di bilocazioni [Reflections and hypotheses about the phenomena of bilocation]. 11, 57-70, 173-186, 234-246, 273-294.

(1912-1913).  Dei fenomeni premonitori [Premonitory phenomena]. 12, 454-468, 528-541; 13, 17-29, 82-94, 120-131, 173-190, 263-276, 303-310, 341-353, 391-405, 442-457, 486-501, 554-564.

(1916-1918). Dei fenomeni d’infestazione [The phenomena of infestation (hauntings)]. 16, 417-430, 484-504; 17, 25-58, 92-105, 161-180, 232-244, 290-307, 345-360; 18, 13-30, 86-101, 169-180, 199-210, 265-272, 309-319.

Bozzano Infestazione Luce e Ombra 1916

(1919-1920). Delle apparizioni di defunti al letto di morte [Deathbed apparitions of the dead]. 19, 169-179, 250-257, 192-305; 20, 15-30.

(1921-1922). Dei fenomeni di “telekinesia” in rapporto con eventi di morte [The phenomena of “telekinesis” in relation with death events]. 21, 225-233, 270-276, 304-315, 375-380; 22, 13-25.

Bozzano Telekinesia Morte Luce e Ombra

(1923-1925). Delle communicazioni medianiche tra vivente [On mediumistic communication between the living]. 23, 193-205, 272-286, 362-372; 24, 5-20, 87-97, 139-148, 230-237, 265-272, 333-340; 25, 21-29, 57-63, 104-119.

Readers interested in the medium Eusapia Palladino will find particularly interesting the May-June 1918 issue, which has several articles about the medium, who died that year. The issue also has an editorial note presenting an index of articles about the medium published in LO: “L’Attivita Medianica di E. Palladino Registrata in “Luce e Ombra” (1901-1917)” [The Mediumistic Activity of E. Palladino Recorded in “Luce e Ombra” (1901-1917). 18, 166-168]. This includes over 90 entries consisting of séance reports and aspects about the medium’s life, as well as mentions of Palladino in general articles, critiques of publications, and news about seances in various places.

Luce e Ombra 1918 Palladino Issue

Eusapia Palladino whole body Courtier

Eusapia Palladino

Several authors who are virtually forgotten today wrote repreatedly for LO. Some examples were Antonio Bruers, Enrico Carreras, Vincenzo Cavalli, Angelo Marzorati, and Francesco Zingaropoli. Although Emilio Servadio is remembered today in parapsychology mainly for his writings about ESP and psychoanalysis, he wrote several articles in LO that are rarely cited today. Some of them are:

Emilio Servadio 4

Emilio Servadio

(1930). Surrealismo e medianità [Surrealism and mediumship]. 30, 169-174.

(1930). Che cos’e la metapsichica moderna [What is modern metapsychics]. 30, 274-279, 327-332, 375-381.

(1932) Otto sedute col medium Erto [Eight seances with the medium Erto]. La Ricerca Psichica (Luce e Ombra), 32, 344-355, 381-393, 434-448, 481-495, 535-546.
(1933). L’ultima Hélène Smith [The last of Hélène Smith]. La Ricerca Psichica (Luce e Ombra), 33, 674-685.

The following are a few of the many articles discussing various phenomena and conceptual issues by other authors in LO:

Bianchi, R. (1925). Il calcolo elementare applicato ai sogni premonitorio [Elementary calculus applied to premonitory dreams].25, 386-394, 457-467.

Bruers, A. (1926). Fenomeni telepatico nella vita dell’exploratore Stanley [Telepathic phenomena in the life of the explorer Stanley]. 26, 145-150.

Carreras, E. (1902). Materializzazione in pieno giorno [Materialization in full daylight]. 2, 440-446.

Imoda, E. (1912). La media Linda Gazzera [The medium Linda Gazzera]. 12, 1-5.

Linda Gazzera 7

Linda Gazzera

Lombroso, C. (1909). Case fantomatiche (hantees) [Phantom houses (hauntings)]. 9, 3-21.

Luisiada, E. (1928). Sogni premonitore e teorie metapsichiche [Premonitory dreams and metapsychic theory]. 28, 219-227.

Mackenzie, W. (1923). A proposito di “polipsichismo” [Regarding “polypsychism”]. 23, 129-142.

Porro, F. (1903). Animismo e Spiritismo [Animism and Spiritism]. 3, 44-49.

Francesco Porro

Francesco Porro

Raveggi, P. (1915). Il fenomeni metapsichici e la psicologia introspectiva [Metapsychic phenomena and introspective psychology]. 15, 433-439.

Richet, C. (1927). L’avenire della metapsichica [The future of metapsychics]. 27, 423-424.

Senigaglia, G. (1910). Una seduta a  Roma con Eusapia Paladino [A séance in Rome with Eusapia Paladino]. 10, 32-35.

Venzano, G. (1907-1908). Contributo allo studio delle materializzazioni [Contribution to the study of materializations]. 7, 405-409, 441-453, 521-531, 576-586, 622-631; 8, 27-40, 57-68.

Vesme, C. (1929). Studio sulle possessioni demoniache descrita negli Evangeli [Study of demoniacal possession described in the Gospels]. 29, 507-513, 550-557.

Cesar de Vesme

Cesare Baudi di Vesme

X. (1911). Un caso di rincarnazioni? [A case of reincarnation?] 11, 40-42.

Zingaropoli, F. (1908). Manifestazioni spontanee misterose: Marche e impronte di fuoco [Mysterious spontaneous manifestations: Fire marks and imprints]. 8, 329-345, 539-545.

Luce e Ombra 1910 issues

LO is still around. For a list of articles published in 2019 click here. There is also a list of the articles published between 1947 and 2003.

Luce e Ombra 1948




Carlos S. Alvarado, PhD, Research Fellow, Parapsychology Foundation

I have commented about the Psi Encyclopedia in previous essays (click here, here, and here), a project sponsored by the Society for Psychical Research . The project, managed by Robert McLuhan, has continued to grow. Here is a list of some new entries posted in 2018 and 2019.

psi encyclopedia 2019

Animals in Psi Research, by Michael Duggan

Announcing Dreams and Related Experiences, by James G. Matlock

Arigo, by Karen Wehrstein

karen wehrstein

Karen Wehrstein

Behavioural Memories in Reincarnation Cases, by James G Matlock

Creery Telepathy Experiments, by Karen Wehrstein

Decline Effect in Parapsychology, by Matthew Colborn

matt colborn

Mathew Colborn

Experimental Psi Research in Asia and Australia, by Michael Duggan

Fraud in Science and Parapsychology, Chris Roe

chris roe 2

Chris Roe

Gladys Osborne Leonard, Trevor Hamilton

Global Consciousness Project, Roger D Nelson

Hubert Larcher, by Renaud Evrard

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Renaud Evrard

Indridi Indridason, by Erlendur Haraldsson

Mediumship and Pathology, by Carlos S Alvarado

Mental Mediumship Research, by Julie Beischel


Julie Beischel

Parapsychology in Psychology Textbooks, by Chris Roe

Perspectival Postmortem Awareness, by Stephen E Braude

Psi Research in the Netherlands, by Dick Bierman, Hans Gerding, and Hein van Dongen

dick bierman 2

Dick Bierman

Unusual Ways of Testing for Psi, Michael Duggan



Carlos S. Alvarado, PhD, Research Fellow, Parapsycholohy Foundation

The site SurvivalAfterDeath | CienciasPsíquicas, in Spanish, has much information about psychical research, particularly about mediumship and the topic of survival of death. There is a section presenting links to many important books, (click here), many of which have been taken from other digital libraries such as Internet Archive and Google Books. Here are some examples.

Baird, A.T. (Ed.). (1944). One Hundred Cases for Survival After Death.

Barrett, W.F. (1926). Death-Bed Visions.

Bennett, E.T. (1905). Automatic Speaking and Writing: — A Study.

Carrington, H. (1909). Eusapia Palladino and Her Phenomena.

Crawford, W.J. (1921). The Psychic Structures at the Goligher Circle.

De Morgan, S. (1863). From Matter to Spirit.

Fodor, N. (n.d.). Encyclopaedia of Psychic Science.

Fournier d’Albe, E.E. (1908). New Light on Immortality.

Gurney, E., Myers, F.W.H., & Podmore, F. (1886). Phantasms of the Living.
Vol. 1,   Vol. 2

Hamilton, T.G. (1942). Intention and Survival.

Hyslop, J.H. (1913). Psychical Research and Survival.

Lodge, O.J. (1916). Raymond or Life After Death.

Lombroso, C. (1909). After Death—What?

Maxwell, J. (1905). Metapsychical Phenomena.

Myers, F.W.H. (1907). Human Personality and Its Survival of Bodily Death.

Owen, R.D. (1860). Footfalls on the Boundary of Another World.

Schrenck-Notzing, Baron von. (1923). Phenomena of Materialisation.

Smith, W.W. (1920). A Theory of the Mechanism of Survival.

Wallace, A.R. (1896). Miracles and Modern Spiritualism.

Zollner, J.C.F. (1880). Transcendental Physics.

These are only a few examples of many other books available in this collection. In addition, the are many issues of the Annals of Psychical Science, and of the Proceedings and Journal of the American Society for Psychical Research.

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Carlos S. Alvarado, PhD, Research Fellow, Parapsychology Foundation

Here are some important books about experimental ESP studies published between 1930 and 1958 that are freely available online.

Carington, W. (1945). Telepathy: An Outline of its Facts, Theory, and Implications (2nd Ed.). London: Methuen.

Whately Carington

Whateley Carington

Humphrey, B.M. (1948). Handbook of Tests in Parapsychology. Durham, NC: Parapsychology Laboratory.

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Pratt, J.G., et al. (1940). Extra-Sensory Perception After Sixty Years. New York: Henry Holt.

Pratt Rhine ESP 60 title page

Rhine, J.B. (1935). Extra-Sensory Perception. Boston Bruce Humphries.  (First published in 1934)

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Rhine, J.B., & Pratt, J.G. (1957). Parapsychology: Frontier Science of the Mind. Springfield, IL: Charles C Thomas.

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J.B. Rhine 1956

J.B. Rhine

J.G. Pratt

J.G. Pratt

Schmeidler, G.R., & McConnell, R.A. (1958). ESP and Personality Patterns. New Haven: Yale University Press.

Gertrude Schmeidler

Gertrude Schmeidler

Robert McConnell

Robert McConnell

Sinclair, U. (1930). Mental Radio. Pasadena, CA: Author.

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Upton Sinclair

Upton Sinclair

Mary Craig Sinclair

Mary Craig Sinclair Upton’s wife, tested for telepathy

Sinclai Results of telepathy drawing test

Results of telepathy drawing test

Soal, S.G., & Bateman, F. (1954). Modern Experiments in Telepathy. New Haven: Yale University Press.

Soal Bateman Modern Experiments Telepathy

Warcollier, R. (1938). Experimental Telepathy. Boston: Boston Society for Psychic Research.

Rene Warcollier

René Warcollier

Telepathic Drawing Experiments (Target Above, Response Below)


Carlos S. Alvarado, PhD, Research Fellow, Parapsychology Foundation

In previous blogs i have discussed the Psi Encyclopedia, an online reference work sponsored by the Society for Psychical Research (Click here and here).  The encyclopedia, which is work in progress, keeps growing.

I am glad to see that one of the areas that is growing is experimental parapsychology. Here are some recent entries (posted in 2017) about this area:

DMILS in Distance Healing Research (by Marilyn Schlitz)

Marilyn Schlitz

Dr. Marilyn Schlitz

Experimental Parapsychology in Europe (Michael Duggan)

Experimenter Effects (John Palmer)

John Palmer 3

Dr. John Palmer

Ganzfeld (Adrian Parker)

Meta-Analysis in Parapsychology (Lance Storm)

Remote Viewing (Stephan Schwartz)

Stephan Schwartz

Stephan Schwartz

Experimental Parapsychology in the UK (Michael Duggan)

In future posts i will present information about other topics covered by this reference work.

Carlos S. Alvarado, PhD, Research Fellow, Parapsychology Foundation

On September 17, 2016, I posted about the Psi Encyclopedia, a project organized by Robert McLuhan on behalf of the Society for Psychical Research (for my blog click here). Since then, several other entries have been added, as you can see below.

Psi Encyclopedia

Robert Mcluhan 4

Robert McLuhan

The following are some of the new additions. I have arranged them by title (in alphabetical order).

Karen Wehrstein:  Adult Past-Life Memories Research

Stephen E. Braude: Antonia (Case Study Analysis)

Steve Braude 4

Stephen E. Braude

Peter Hallson: Ghosts and Apparitions in Psi Research (Overview)

Leslie Price: The Hodgson Report (Theosophy)

Carlos S. Alvarado: Human Radiations

Caroline Watt: Koestler Parapsychology Unit

Caroline Watt 2

Caroline Watt

Karen Wehrstein: James Leininger

Annekatrin Puhle: Extraordinary Light Phenomena

Annekatrin Puhle: Lucid Dreaming

Karen Wehrstein: Ma Tin Aung Myo

Lance Storm: Meta-Analysis in Parapsychology

Lance Storm

Lance Storm

Karen Wehrstein: Nazih Al-Danaf

Bernard Carr and Caroline Watt: Parapsychology PhDs in the UK (list)

Carlos S. Alvarado: The Phenomena of Astral Projection (1951)

James G. Matlock: Patterns in Reincarnation Cases


James G. Matlock

Renaud Evrard: Psi Research in France

Stephan Schwarz: Remote Viewing

James G. Matlock: Replacement Reincarnation

Carlos S. Alvarado: Richet’s ‘La Suggestion Mentale’

Carlos S. Alvarado 10

Carlos S. Alvarado

Rupert Sheldrake (compiled by Guy Hayward): The Sense of Being Stared At – Experimental Evidence

Rupert Sheldrake (compiled by Guy Hayward): The Sense of Being Stared At – Implications for Theories of Vision

Rupert Sheldrake

Rupert Sheldrake

Lance Storm: The Sheep-Goat Effect

Stephen E. Braude: The Super-Psi Hypothesis

Michael Nahm: Terminal Lucidity

Michael Nahm 2

Michael Nahm

Karen Wehrstein: Sharada

Stephen E. Braude: Transplant Cases Considered as Evidence for Postmortem Survival

As you can see the Encyclopedia keeps growing. I am glad to see more entries about important concepts such as the super-psi hypothesis and basic phenomena (ghosts and apparitions), not to mention topics from experimental parapsychology (sheep-goat effect, meta-analysis).

As I said before, there is a need for coverage of more experimental topics and modern researchers. But bear in mind this is work in progress. I am aware that the Encyclopedia editor, Robert McLuhan, is trying to get writers for many other topics, something that is not easy because, for various reasons, not everyone can write for the project.

I would like to end citing some comments Robert McLuhan sent to me in a recent email:

“The reincarnation section is developing strongly, which I’m pleased about, as I think this constitutes some exceptional evidence. We also have good recent pieces from Stephan Schwarz on Remote Viewing and from Adrian Parker on the Ganzfeld, and there will be more on the experimental side during the course of the year (DMILS, Experimenter Effects, Stargate, Replication Issues, etc). One project which I’ve been giving some thought to is to include profiles of contemporary researchers, which I hope will start to happen later in the year. “

“On the development side, there’ll be a few minor additions, for instance a function that lists articles written by particular contributors, and another that gives a handy citation for articles that authors can cut and paste into their writings. Now that we’ve built up a fairly substantial library of images, I’ve been giving thought to redeveloping the home page, making it more reflective of recent additions.”

“We’re not as busy on the publicity side as I’d like, simply for lack of time. So please do spread the word in any way you can, linking to articles on your posts, tweeting, etc. And I’m always happy to hear from people in the psi research community with comments and ideas.”

Ideas and suggestions may be sent to Mr. McLuhan here.

Carlos S. Alvarado, PhD, Research Fellow, Parapsychology Foundation

PF logo 2

The Parapsychology Foundation, directed by Lisette Coly, has set up a YouTube Channel that has several videos of lectures and other events they have sponsored.

Lisette Coly

Lisette Coly with bust of Eileen Garrett

Some of the videos are:

About the PF

PF Library Visit


PF Library


PF Library

PF Perspective Lectures

Global Consciousness?, by Roger Nelson

Roger Nelson

Dr. Roger Nelson

 Dueling Psychics: Edgar Cayce & Eileen J. Garrett, by Sidney Kirkpatrick

 Emotions and ESP, by Richard Broughton

Taking Spirit Seriously, by Charles T. Tart

Charley Tart

Dr. Charles T. Tart

Classic Lyceum Lectures (lectures on various topics)

What is Parapsychology, by Carlos S. Alvarado

So You Want to be a Parapsychologist?, by Carlos S. Alvarado, Dr. Michaeleen Maher, Dr. Robert L. Morris, Dr. Rex G. Stanford and Dr. Nancy L. Zingrone

Part 1        Part 2

Rex Stanford

Dr. Rex Stanford

Nancy Zingrone 3

Dr. Nancy L. Zingrone

How To Sit with a Medium, by Tony Cornell

 Parapsychology International Affiliates Conference

Moderator: Nancy L. Zingrone, PhD

Opening Session, Lisette Coly and Carlos S. Alvarado, PhD

Parapsychology in Brazil: The History from the 1970s Till Today, by Fátima Machado and Wellington Zangari

Fatima 2015

Dr. Fatima R. Machado

Wellington Zangari 3

Dr. Wellington Zangari

Parapsychology Research and Education in the UK by Chris Roe, PhD

Parapsychological Research in Japan since the 1970s by Hideyuki Kokubo

 Research in Parapsychology in Argentina (1980-2015) by Alejandro Parra, PhD


Dr. Alejandro Parra

 Parapsychology Foundation Book Expo 2015

Parapsychology Foundation Book Expo 2015 Logo

 Opening, Lisette Coly

 Parapsychology: A Handbook for the 21st Century, by Etzel Cardeña, PhD

 Cardena et al Parapsychology

 The Witch of Lime Street, by David Jaher

 Jaher Witch of Lime Street

Beyond Physicalism, by Edward F. Kelly, PhD

Kelly Beyond Physicalism

 Aldous Huxley’s Hands, by Allene Symons

Symons Aldous Huxley's Hands

Return to Life, by Jim Tucker, M.D.

 Tucker Return to Life

 Extrasensory Perception, by Edward C. May, PhD

May Extrasensory

 Final Session, by Lisette Coly

ParaMOOC 2016

(several other videos of this course will be posted soon)

 Opening Session

Recent Work About the History of Parapsychology: An Overview, by Carlos S. Alvarado, PhD

 Anastasia Damalas, Goncalo Veiga, and Nancy L. Zingrone, all PF staff, are currently preparing other videos to be uploaded to YouTube. So subscribe to the channel or check it regularly to see additions.

Anastasia Damalas

Anastasia Damalas, PF staff and daughter of Lisette Coly.

For information about the PF past history check their website and this article.

Carlos S. Alvarado, Ph.D., Research Fellow, Parapsychology Foundation

The early literature of American spiritualism is so vast that it is not possible to summarize it here properly. Nonetheless I will present a few comments about selected publications, all of which are freely available in various virtual libraries  (click herehere, and here).

A particularly good book giving a general account of the events and phenomena of early American spiritualism is Eliab W. Capron’s Modern Spiritualism (Boston: Bela Marsh, 1855). The opening words of the preface are: “We find ‘the world turned upside-down’ by a new and strange class of manifestations called spiritual. Like most new thoughts of modern times, America gave it birth; but it has since spread all over the globe, and awakened new and novel inquiries wherever man understands the means of communicating to his fellows the discoveries he has made” (p. v). Capron chronicles developments coming from the Fox sisters but the most interesting part of his book are the descriptions of the spread of mediumship in the United States.

Capron Modern Spiritualism

 In another book, entitled Explanation and History of the Mysterious Capron and Barron ExplanationCommunion with Spirits Capron and Henry D. Barron (2nd ed., Auburn, NY: Capron and Barron,1850) presented an account of the mysterious knockings that gave a big impetus to the development of spiritualism, and centered on the Fox sisters. The knockings were first heard by the Fox family. According to the description of an early incident:

“The girls . . . heard the sounds and endeavored to imitate them by snapping their fingers. The attempt was first made by the youngest girl, then about twelve years old. When she made the noise with her fingers, the sounds were repeated just as many times as she made them. The sound was not like that which she made, only the number of raps. When she stopped snapping her fingers, the sounds stopped for a short time. One of the other girls then said in sport, ‘Now do what I do; count one, two, three, four, five, six,’ &c., at the same time striking one hand in the other. The same number of blows or sounds, were repeated as in the other case. As this slight manifestation of intelligence was displayed, she began to be alarmed, and desisted from trying any more experiments. Mrs. Fox then said, ‘count ten,’ and there were ten distinct strokes or sounds. She then said, will you tell the age of Cathy, (one of the children,) and it was answered by the same number of raps that she was years of age. In like manner, the age of her different children was told correctly by this unseen visitor” (pp. 13-14).

Fox Sisters 6

Clark Plain Guide to SpiritualismA general discussion of the phenomenal, theoretical, and social aspects of spiritualism was Uriah Clark’s Plain Guide to Spiritualism (Boston: William White, 1863). Regarding the variety of mediums Clark cautioned readers that there were so many types of mediums, and so many combinations, that a reliable classification was not possible. Nonetheless he presented the following long list:

“1. The rapping medium was the first developed in this age of spiritual manifestations. We name other phases without regard to order or gradation. 2. The tipping medium. 3. The medium for raising ponderable bodies, sometimes with and sometimes without hands in contact. 4. The musical medium, with instruments and without. 5. The medium for spirit voices, without using the vocal organs, and sometimes with. 6. Writing medium, sometimes by impression and sometimes mechanically. 7. The trance medium, sometimes conscious and sometimes otherwise. 8. Vibrating medium, sometimes shaken and convulsed, and sometimes lifted or impelled without any seeming volition. 9. The transfigured medium, thrilled, exalted and enchanted under celestial influences. 10. Personification medium, imitating words, looks, tones and actions of spirits. 11. Sensation medium, made to feel signals and touches by spirits. 12. Clairvoyant medium, describing persons, spirits, diseases, etc. 13. Healing medium, for the laying on of hands. 14 Painting medium, producing pictures and portraits. 15. Hieroglyphic medium, executing strange scrolls. 16. The medium for unknown tongues, sometimes writing and sometimes speaking. 17. Impressional medium, liable to take on impressions from mortals and from spirits. 18. The clairaudant medium, for hearing spirit sounds and voices. 19. The vision medium, dealing in tropes, symbols, etc., like the Apocalypse. 20. Seeing medium, describing spirit-scenes and forms. 21. The telegraphic medium, sending messages to absent persons, without writing or speaking. 22. Developing medium, imparting influences to develop other mediums. 23. Prophetic medium, giving warnings and predictions. 24. Illuminatti medium, presenting spirit lights. 25. Itinerant medium, sent out after the sick, suffering, tempted, fallen, dying, etc. 26. The psychological medium, liable to be influenced by persons in the form, and subjected to impositions, counterfeits, etc. 27. The psychographic medium, reading persons at a distance, with letters, locks of hair, etc. 28. The speaking medium, speaking under influence, some conscious and some unconscious. 29. The inspirational medium, thinking, feeling, acting, writing, and speaking under a vivid consciousness of the reality of things spiritual, divine and eternal, yet in full possession of all the senses. 30. The improvisation medium, giving music or poetry without premeditation, under spirit influence. 31. The normal medium, without any external signs, realizing the all-pervading atmosphere of the spirit-world with a calm, deep consciousness of angel guardianship” (pp. 169-171).

Judge John W. Edmonds

Judge John W. Edmonds

Many other books presented examples of the fascinating phenomena of spiritualism. Judge John W. Edmonds and physician George T. Dexter, were both investigators and mediums, as seen in the first volume of their Spiritualism (New York: Partridge & Brittan, 1853). The first received visions and the second produced automatic writing. Edmonds wrote about Dexter’s written communications coming from Swedenborg and Bacon:

“All that purports to come from Bacon is always in the same

George T. Dexter, M.D.

George T. Dexter, M.D.

handwriting; so it is with Sweedenborg (sic). The handwriting of each is unlike the other, and though both are written by Dr. Dexter’s hand, they are both unlike his; so that with ease, when he is under the influence, he writes several different kinds of handwriting, and some of them more rapidly than he can write his own. This he can not do when he is not under the influence; and I have never seen any person that could, in his normal condition, write with such rapidity, at one sitting, four or five different kinds of handwriting, each distinctly marked, and having and always retaining its peculiar characteristic” (p. 50).

Edmonds Dexter Spiritualism 1853 2

Later in the book there are facsimile reproductions of Dexter’s handwriting, and of his writing as Swedenborg, Bacon and other purported spirits (pp. 387-392).

Edmonds Dexter Dexter writing

Dexter's writing (top), Swedenborg through Dexter, bottom.

Dexter’s writing (top), Swedenborg through Dexter, bottom.

In Spiritualism in America (London: F. Pitman, 1861), published in England, Benjamin Coleman presented the experiences he had with mediums during his visit to the States. A case in point were his experiences with Miss Lord, a physical medium in Portland, Maine. They formed a chain around a large table and musical instruments were placed on a nearby table. According to Coleman the following took place in complete darkness:

“The first manifestation arose from the unseen agents handling the guitar, Coleman Spiritualism in Americawhich was whisked about with great celerity over and around our heads, whilst a quick negro air was capitally played upon it the whole time the instrument was floating about us. I was touched by it on the head playfully several times, and once it rested on my shoulder, the air still continuing, with the strings so close to my ear that they struck me in their vibration” (p. 11).

Dr. Robert Hare

Dr. Robert Hare

Many communications were about philosophical and moral topics of various sorts, as seen in the works received by mediums. This literature includes Charles Linton’s The Healing of the Nations (New York: Society for the Diffusion of Spiritual Knowledge, 1855) and Charles Hammond’s  Light from the Spirit World (Rochester, NY: W. Heughes, 1852). The latter has chapters about miracles, prophecy, deceiving spirits, wisdom, repentance, and forgiveness. Some interesting mediumistic communications about “spiritual birth,” or the transition between death and life in the spirit world, were presented by Robert Hare in his Experimental Investigation of the Spirit Manifestations (New York: Partridge & Brittan, 1855).

Hare Experimental Investigations cover

Hatch Discourses on ReligionSome of the communications were about philosophical, moral and scientific topics delivered at the request of the public. This was the case of trance speaker Cora L.V. Hatch, as seen in her Discourses on Religion, Morals, Philosophy, and Metaphysics (New York: B.F. Hatch, 1858). Some of the topics of the “discourses” were: Why is man ashamed to acknowledge his alliance to the angel-world, the sources of human knowledge, the beauty of life and the life of beauty, Jesus of Nazareth, the moral and religious nature of man, spiritual communications, and the spheres. Hatch stated in one of her speeches:

“The question is asked: Why are the communications of the spirits so vague, and conveyed in so mysterious a manner as to leave doubts, on the mind, of their being genuine?’ First, if modern spiritualism be true, and if there is a principle by which those in the spirit-world can communicate with persons on the earth, it is controlled by a fixed and positive law; that law as certain when applied correctly, and as uncertain when applied incorrectly, as is telegraphic communication between New York and Washington. If a man along any portion of the route cut the wire, your telegraphic message will stop at that point; or, if there is any fault in the operator, your message will be sent incorrectly. It is the same in communications between this and the spirit world. There are lines of thought and feeling; minds, and tables, and chairs, are but the wires which they use to convey their thoughts. You are at one end of that telegraphic chain, your spirit-friend at, the other. If there is no intervening influence, the message will be conveyed; if, in any way, the line of communication is disturbed, the message will be incorrectly given . . . .” (pp. 264-265).

Cora Hatch

Cora Hatch

Also interesting were the various descriptions of the spirit world obtained via

Hudson Tuttle

Hudson Tuttle

psychic means. This included, but was not limited to, Hudson Tuttle’s Scenes in the Spirit World (New York: Partridge and Brittan, 1855)  and Andrew Jackson Davis A Stellar Key to the Summer Land (5th ed., Boston: Colby & Rich, 1867). The latter wrote in his book: “The Spiritual Spheres have been recently termed Summer Lands, and there are, counting man’s earthly existence the first sphere of spirit life, in all six spheres in the ascending flight toward Deity, who fills the Seventh Sphere . . .” (p. 66).

Davis Stellar Key cover

Davis' Spiritual Spheres

Davis’ Spiritual Spheres

Robert Dale Owen

Robert Dale Owen

Another influential and widely discussed book was social reformer and politician Robert Dale Owen’s Footfalls on the Boundary of Another World (Philadelphia: J.B. Lippincott, 1860). Instead of mediumship, Owen discussed phenomena such as veridical dreams, apparitions, and hauntings. He referred to the agency of invisible beings affecting our world:

“As to the proofs of the agency upon earth of these Invisibles, I rest them not on any one class of observations set forth in this volume, not specially on the phenomena of dreaming, or of unexplained disturbances, or of apparitions whether of the living or the dead, or of what seem examples of ultramundane retribution or indications of spiritual guardianship, but upon the aggregate and concurrent evidence of all these. It is strong confirmation of any theory that proofs converging from many and varying classes of phenomena unite in establishing it” (pp. 508-509).

Owen Footfalls

Brittan Richmond DiscussionSeveral books were about explanations of the phenomena of spiritualism. A fascinating one was Samuel B. Brittan’s and B.W. Richmond’s A Discussion of the Facts and Philosophy of Ancient and Modern Spiritualism (New York: Partridge & Brittan, 1853). This consisted in a debate around the physical and mental phenomena of spiritualism in which Brittan represented discarnate agency and Richmond the argument that the Od force could explain the occurrences without recourse to spirits of the dead. The latter point was also developed, with some variants, in other influential books such as E.C. Rogers’ Philosophy of Mysterious Agents (Boston: J.P. Jewett, 1853) John Bovee Dods’ Spirit Manifestations Examined and Explained (New York: De Witt and Davenport, 1854), and A. Mahan’s Modern Mysteries Explained and Exposed (Boston: John P. Jewett, 1855).

Rogers Philosophy 1853

Mahan Modern Mysteries

Several other authors saw spiritualism as the work of the devil. An example wasRamsey Spiritualism Satanic William Ramsey’s Spiritualism: A Satanic Delusion, and a Sign of the Times (Rochester, NY: H.L. Hastings, 1857). William R. Gordon stated in his A Three-Fold Test of Modern Spiritualism (New York: Charles Scribner, 1856):

“We have proved it a revival of heathenism . . . it is to be accredited to the devil and his angels. Its demonology and its necromancy furnish all the data we need for the estimate of its true origin, nature, and tendency . . . . To consider this phenomenon any other than the work of the devil, is as good as denying the agency, nay, the existence of the devil altogether; for if he has not done this, we should be glad to know what kind of agency he exerts, and what is the peculiarity of the evidence by which his existence is established” (pp. 400-401).

Gordon Three-Fold Test

Andrew Jackson Davis

Andrew Jackson Davis

Many other books could be mentioned, among them those authored by Andrew Jackson Davis. Some of them are The Principles of Nature (35th ed., Boston: Colby & Rich, 1847), The Philosophy of Spiritual Intercourse (New York: Fowlers and Wells, 1851), and Memoranda of Persons, Places, and Events (Boston: William White, 1868).

Davis Philosophy Spiritual Intercourse

*This is based on my article Early American spiritualism literature online. Journal of Spirituality and Paranormal Studies, 2010, 33, 94-100.