Spiritualism

Timeline > Movements

Search Timelines:

Founder
Margaret Fox, Kate Fox, Andrew Jackson Davis, Horace Greeley
Time Period
3/31/1848
Description
Spiritualism is a movement emphasizing communication with the dead through the agency of mediums. Its origins trace back to March 31, 1848, when two young girls known as the Fox sisters claimed to hear mysterious rapping in western New York. Soon, "seers" like Andrew Jackson Davis emerged and others began reporting spiritual manifestations in the form of levitations and slate-writing.

Since its inception, spiritualism faced skepticism and accusations of fraud. In the 1850s, scientific studies began investigating these supernatural occurrences, often yielding critical conclusions regarding the credibility of these accounts. The movement’s popularity waned following 1888, after the Fox sisters confessed to fabricating their reports.

Nonetheless, spiritualism persisted in institutional forms, despite its anti-institutional and anti-doctrinal origins. One of the oldest and largest spiritualist churches is the National Spiritualist Association of Churches, founded in 1893 in Chicago. Mediums continue to fascinate many Americans and remain visible in various parts of popular culture, like television and film.

Interactive Timeline(s)
Social Movements and Religion
Religious Minorities (Non-Christian)
Browse Related Timeline Entries
Social Movements and Religion in American History
Religious Minorities (Non-Christian) in American History
Religious Groups
Timeline Entries for the same religious group Spiritualist Family
Spiritualist Family: Other ARDA Links

Biographies
Bailey, Alice
Events
Theosophical Society Founded
Fox Sisters Contact a Spirit
Photographs

Fox sisters- Internet Archive- from Abraham Lincoln and Religion

Andrew Jackson Davis portrait- Internet Archive- from The Principles of Nature by Andrew Jackson Davis

Demonstrating a fraudulent method to levitate a table- Wikimedia Commons

Horace Greeley portrait- National Archives and Records Administration

Banner of Light, a spiritualist journal- Wikimedia Commons
Book/Journal Source(s)
Lippy, Charles H., and Peter W. Williams, 1988. Encyclopedia of American Religious Experience. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons.
Web Page Contributor
Benjamin T. Gurrentz
Affliated with: Pennsylvania State University, Ph.D. in Sociology

Bookmark and Share