A Short History of the Original Ghost Club

by Armchair Paranormal on September 12, 2012

Ghost Club

Some of you may not know that the author Charles Dickens was an important member of The Ghost Club. The Ghost Club (TGC) was formally founded in London in the year 1862. It is said to have started as early as 1855 by fellows at Trinity College who gathered to discuss psychic and paranormal phenomena. The club is considered to be the first organization of its kind, involving respected academics exchanging their views on and investigating psychical and paranormal happenings. This subject matter came into vogue during the Victorian era. We all know that Dickens is the author of one of the most beloved and enduring ghost tales of all time, A Christmas Carole. To be a fly on the wall at one of those early gatherings!

Parapsychology is the investigation of unusual or scientifically unexplainable phenomena. Psychical research is the study of paranormal, which includes, apparitions, psychic abilities, communicating with the dead, divination, prophecies, visions and other unexplained phenomena. The scientific study of such things began in the 19th century.

The Society of Psychical Research (SPR) was founded in London in 1882. The first president was Henry Sedgwick, Professor of Moral Philosophy at Cambridge University. Henry Sedgwick was a former member of The Ghost Club, an intellectual of high authority and standing. There were many other prominent members of SPR during this time period including other former members of TGC- the authors of Phantasms of the Living, Edmund Gurney, Frederic Myers, Frank Podmore and Arthur Balfour. Other members were physicist Lord Rayleigh, and a host of other philosophers, classical scholars and even members of the clergy.

The research compiled by these early members was ground breaking. Starting with Phantasms of the Living published in 1886. This book contained hundreds of painstakingly analyzed cases. Other early works included investigating, duplicating and debunking mediums and séances. Because séances were a popular fad at the time, there were many fraudulent mediums and psychics taking advantage or just trying to put on a show. There were however, psychics and mediums who agreed to work under the required conditions of The Society of Psychical Research. The most noteworthy of these were D.D. Home and an American woman named Leonora Piper, both were said to have had extraordinary abilities.

Currently, both The Ghost Club and The Society of Psychical Research are open and continue with the work of their forefathers. The history of these two clubs is long, I could go on and on, but I was told to keep my posts on the short side! Hmm, what is that supposed to mean?

Some people may think that paranormal curiosity is a new trend judging by the number of reality television shows and movies out there. Apparently human interest in all things paranormal has been passed on from generation to generation, beginning well before the 19th century. It is great to know that those respected scholars were interested in and took the time to research and discuss these topics openly. Our generation has added much to the study- with our new technology and continued passion. I bet the original Ghost Club’s members would be amazed! Apparently some deceased members of The Ghost Club and SPR still come back to communicate with the living…

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