Boston Society for Psychical Research

Boston Society for Psychical Research

(religion, spiritualism, and occult)

The Boston Society for Psychical Research was founded in Boston, Massachusetts, in May 1925 as a result of conflict within the American Society for Psychical Research (ASPR). It was founded “in order to conduct psychic research according to strictly scientific principles, thus maintaining the standards set by (Richard) Hodgson and (James Hervey) Hyslop.” Hodgson died in 1905 and Hyslop in 1920. Although the ASPR had been in Boston since its formation in 1885 (patterned on the prestigious British Society for Psychical Research), its headquarters was moved to New York on Hodgson’s death. Politics entered into the society and many of its academically oriented members became dissatisfied with the organization. Research Officer Walter Franklin Prince was prevailed upon by Gardner Murphy, William McDougall, and Elwood Worcester to leave the ASPR and join them in forming the Boston society.

Boston Society for Psychical Research

The Boston Society for Psychical Research remained active until 1941, publishing many important books and bulletins. It did not, however, achieve the renown of the ASPR. Among its publications were Dr. J. B. Rhine’s Extra Sensory Perception, published in 1934, and the bulletins with the first exposure of the fraudulent thumbprints of the Boston medium “Margery” (Mina Stinson Crandon), also published in 1934. Other publications included Walter F. Prince’s The Case of Patience Worth (1928), John F. Thomas’s Case Studies Bearing on Survival (1929), and Beyond Normal Cognition (1937).

Prince, who was the moving energy of the society, died in 1934. By 1941 the original problems at the ASPR had been resolved and the Boston society disbanded and rejoined the ASPR.

Sources:

Guiley, Rosemary Ellen: The Encyclopedia of Ghosts and Spirits. New York: Facts On File, 1992
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