Murphy, Dr. Edgar Gardner

Murphy, Dr. Edgar Gardner (1895–1979)

(religion, spiritualism, and occult)

Edgar Gardner Murphy was born at Chillicothe, Ohio—site of the famous Indian Serpent Mound—on July 8, 1895. He received a B.A. in 1916 from Yale University and an M.A. in 1917 from Harvard. He received a Ph.D. in 1923 from Columbia University. While at Columbia, he initiated the first telepathic experiments through wireless communication in Chicago and Newark. He reviewed this work at the Clark University’s Symposium under the title Telepathy as an Experimental Problem.

In 1926, Murphy married Lois Barclay of Lisbon, Iowa. She was the daughter of Wade Crawford and Mary Barclay. Gardner taught psychology, first as an instructor (1921–1925), then an assistant professor (1925–1929), and then as a full professor. He was Chairman of the Department of Psychology, City College of New York, from 1940 to 1952, and Director of Research at Menninger Foundation, Topeka, Kansas, from 1952 onwards. Murphy became a member of the American Psychological Association and was its President in 1944. He was also a member of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. In 1972, he received the Gold Medal Award of the American Psychological Association.

As early as 1917, Gardner Murphy was a member of the American Society for Psychical Research (ASPR). Psychical research was the focus of his graduate work at Harvard. From 1940 to 1962, he served as Vice President of the ASPR, and then became President. It has been said that his “study of psychology began as a preparation for work in psychical research, but he became one of the most beloved and revered psychologists of the mid-twentieth century, as well as an inspiring leader in psychical research.” He wrote many books on both subjects, including Historical Introduction to Modern Psychology (1925), In the Minds of Men (1953), William James and Psychical Research (1960), and The Challenge of Psychical Research (1961). He contributed a large number of important papers to the ASPR Journal.

In 1927, Murphy suffered from persistent influenza and near blindness. Dr. Frank Marlow and Dr. William H. Hay worked with him, using diet, exercise, and natural medicine to overcome his semi-invalid condition. This contributed to his open-mindedness about paranormal phenomena. He commented, “One of the main questions of psychic research is whether we can give up our precious folklore and intuition about vast regions of the unknown without throwing out useful data.”


Lois Barclay Murphy Biography:
Pesquisa Psi (Italian):
Shepard, Leslie A: Encyclopedia of Occultism & Parapsychology. New York: Avon Books, 1978
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