In this last installment, I focus on the nineteenth century records to document Spiritualists. There are several repositories that have significant collections; mainly periodicals and directories. Most important are the American Antiquarian Society: http://americanantiquarian.org and the Library of Congress: www.loc.gov Secondary collections are at Andover-Harvard University Theological Library: www.hds.harvard.edu/library ; New York Public Library: www.nypl.org ; Boston Public Library: www.bpl.org ; Van Pelt Library: www.library.upenn.edu/vanpelt ; Bancroft Library: http://bancroft.berkeley.edu ; and the Cecil H. Green Library: http://library.stanford.edu
It wasn’t until 1893 that the National Spiritualist Association of Churches (NSAC): www.nsac.org was founded. The NSAC as the first successful organization to bound together a variety of Spiritualist congregations. They remain the largest such organization. Spiritualist congregations are free to develop their own rituals and practices. There has currently been no study to know what records congregations kept. The NSAC can be contacted concerning member congregations.
Directories and newspapers will list lecturers, mediums and Spiritualist missionaries. Important directories include: Uriah Clark’s Spiritual Register for 1857, 1858-9, 1859, 1860, 1861; and Andrew Jackson Davis’ The Progressive Annual for 1862, 1863, 1864. One of the most extensive and genealogically important direcgtory is James M. Peebles and Hudson Tuttle, The Year-Book of Spiritualism for 1871. This documents Spiritualists before the massive exodus from the movement in favor of the Theosophical Society and Christian Science.
Spiritualist newspapers published advertisements, convention news, directories, local news and letters. Ann Braude’s News From the Spirit World: A Checklist of American Spiritualist Periodicals, 1848-1900 (1989) lists 214 periodicals, by name, time period, geographic, and by publisher.
The American Society for Psychical Research (ASPR): www.aspr.com is an investigative organization. Their studies have exposed fraudulent mediums as well as investigated what they saw as legitimate claims. Not all investigations were published in their Journal of the American Society for Psychical Research. The library houses the correspondences and case files for all investigations.
It is hoped that my blogs will alert researchers to the potential of Spiritualist records as a valid genealogical resource.