American Society for Psychical Research

American Society for Psychical Research

(religion, spiritualism, and occult)

The oldest psychical research organization in the United States, the American Society for Psychical Research (ASPR) was founded in Boston in 1885, by Sir William Fletcher Barrett of the British Society for Psychical Research (SPR). The initial directors included astronomer Professor Simon Newcombe, President; N.D.C. Hodges, Secretary; and Vice Presidents Professors Stanley Hall, George S. Fullerton, Edward C. Pickering, and Charles S. Minot. Renowned Harvard psychologist and philosophy Professor William James was a founding member. The society aimed to investigate apparitions, hypnosis, mediumship, telepathy, and all other fields of parapsychology.

In 1887 Dr. Richard Hodgson, the British SPR’s chief investigator, came to America to act as Secretary to the ASPR. He continued in this position until he suffered a fatal heart attack while playing handball at the Boat Club in Boston, Massachusetts on December 20, 1905.

In 1889, under Professor S. P. Langley’s presidency, the American society affiliated with its British counterpart due to financial problems. After Hodgson’s death in 1905, the society dissolved but reemerged the following year, as a separate entity from the British SPR. Dr. James Hervey Hyslop became President and took over where Hodgson had left off as Chief Investigator for the society.

On Hyslop’s death in 1920, Dr. Walter Franklin Prince assumed the presidency and served until he resigned five years later. The society has enjoyed active participation from a number of outstanding scientists and philosophers, among them the physicists Sir William Barrett and Sir Oliver Lodge. By 1940 Gardner Murphy had become a Vice President and he assumed the presidency in 1962. He initiated the first wireless electronic voice phenomena telepathic experiments in Chicago and New Jersey. He also focused the research of the society on scientific experiments, especially in extrasensory perception, working with Dr. J. B. Rhine, and on altered states of consciousness and survival after death.

American Society for Psychical Research

Today the American Society for Psychical Research is headquartered in New York and maintains one of the world’s largest libraries of books on parapsychology.


Buckland, Raymond: The Fortune–Telling Book: The Encyclopedia of Divination and Soothsaying. Detroit: Visible Ink Press, 2004 Guiley, Rosemary Ellen: The Encyclopedia of Ghosts and Spirits. New York: Facts On File, 1992
Shepard, Leslie A: Encyclopedia of Occultism & Parapsychology. New York: Avon Books, 1978
The Spirit Book © 2006 Visible Ink Press®. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
William James of the American Society for Psychical Research, Dr.
One of Gallerneaux's most interesting tales is that of her own visit a few years ago to the American Society for Psychical Research, which is housed in an elegant brownstone near Central Park in Manhattan.
Second, papers in the four main peer-reviewed English-language parapsychology journals (European Journal of Parapsychology, Journal of the American Society for Psychical Research, Journal of Parapsychology and Journal of the Society for Psychical Research) were examined individually as far back as 1960, as were abstracts of peer-reviewed papers presented at the annual convention of the Parapsychological Association published in Research in Parapsychology since its first issue in 1972.
Free verbal response experiments with Lalsingh Harribance, Journal of the American Society for Psychical Research, 67, 197-207.
American Society for Psychical Research Newsletter, 28(1), 8-11.
Proceedings of the American Society for Psychical Research, 30, 1-78.

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