Spirits Were All the Rage

William Marriott

William Marriott with some of the “ghosts” he bought from the GAMBOLS catalog.

There is a fun website called The Haunted Museum with, and here is a fun article from said website about exposing fake spiritualists back at the turn of the century when Spiritism was all the rage.

“Is Spiritualism a fraud? Are the spirit-rappings and the spirit-forms of the séance, the prophecies of the palmist and the clairvoyant, the visions of the trance mediums, genuine evidence of a spirit-world, or are they mere catchpenny tricks, engineered by charlatans to charm money from the pockets of the credulous?”

These were questions asked by Pearson’s Magazine in March 1910, when it began a series of articles written by William S. Marriott about Spiritualism. The editors added that “in order that readers of Pearson’s Magazine may judge for themselves the pros and cons of this tremendously important subject. If Spiritualism is genuine, it ought to be a vital factor in the lives of us all: if false, then it and its high priests should be ruthlessly exposed and believers in it disillusioned of a faith that is altogether vain.”

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Remembering the Midnight Monster Shows

Spook Show at the Orpheum

At Paleofuture, Matt Novak has a good essay on the “spook shows” of the 1940s, 50s, & 60s. We had a couple of these in my home town when I was a kid. Of course, I was always there in the thick of it.

Midnight ghost shows (sometimes called “spook,” “voodoo,” or “monster” shows) promised a night of creepy and playful stunts. There were glowing ghosts, floating objects, psychic readings and dozens of other illusions, all playing off the nation’s interest in spiritualism between the two World Wars.

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