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Mediums, Magicians, and the Ouija Board: A Spiritualist History of Baltimore


September 20, 2023, 12:00 pm - 1:00 pm

Location: Online

In an old sepia-toned photograph of a seance, a man appears to levitate

Do spirits return, and can we communicate with the dead? Baltimore’s Spiritualists thought so, but magicians worked to disprove them. Join Julie Saylor of Enoch Pratt Free Library as she discusses spirit mediums, the Spiritualist origins of the Ouija Board, and Baltimore’s group of amateur magicians, the Demons Club.

This is the first in a series of six lectures, Beyond the Veil: Making Sense of the Spirit World, the fall 2023 Albin O. Kuhn Library and Gallery Spotlight! symposium. The symposium presents speakers who explore themes from the Special Collections’ Eileen J. Garrett Parapsychology Foundation collection, such as the history of human interaction (beliefs and practices) with supernatural, paranormal, mystic, and psychical phenomena, as well as the interaction of race, spiritualities, magic, mysticism and feminist expression with the otherworldly.

Julie Saylor has served as a library associate with Enoch Pratt Free Library for over 30 years, in different departments at Central Library. Her current home is the Maryland Department, where she has created public programs about house history, historical cooking, land records, and the history of Spiritualism in Baltimore. She recently published two articles, “The Disappearing Clubhouse,” in Perennial Mystics Squared, about the clubhouse of the Demons Club of Baltimore Magicians, and “Benjamin Rush, Spirit Physician?” in The Austin Seance Quarterly Journal, about healing mediums who used Dr. Benjamin Rush as their spirit control.

Admission is free. Please join this event online via Webex.

Image: Harry Brown levitating; taken at the International Institute of Psychical Research, circa 1936. From the Nandor Fodor scrapbook, Coll331, Eileen J. Garrett Parapsychology Foundation collection, Special Collections. University of Maryland, Baltimore County, Baltimore, MD.


September 20, 2023
12:00 pm - 1:00 pm
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