Proceedings of the American Society for Psychical Research (Boston), July: 1-4; 52-54.

The American Society for Psychical Research: formation, officers, members, and associates.


Professor Simon Newcomb, Washington, D.C.

Professor G. Stanley Hall, Johns Hopkins University
Professor George S. Fullerton, University of Pennsylvania
Professor Edward C. Pickering, Harvard College Observatory
Dr. Henry P. Bowditch, Harvard Medical School
Dr. Charles S. Minot, Harvard Medical School

Professor William Watson, Boston

N. D. C. Hodges, 19 Brattle Street, Cambridge, Mass.


At a meeting held in Boston, Sept. 23, 1884, to consider the advisability of the formation of a society for psychical research in America, the whole matter was placed in the hands of a committee of nine, consisting of Dr. G. Stanley Hall of Johns Hopkins University, Professor E. C. Pickering, director of the Harvard College Observatory; Dr. H. P. Bowditch and Dr. C. S. Minot, of the Harvard Medical School; Mr. S. H. Scudder, president, and Professor Alpheus Hyatt, curator, of the Boston Society of Natural History; Professor William James of Harvard College; Professor William Watson of Boston; and Mr. N. D. C. Hodges of Cambridge.  This committee held a number of meetings during the months of October and November, and issued an invitation to a number of scientific men throughout the country to join in a society under a constitution upon which the committee had decided.  To this invitation there were favorable replies from about eighty.

NOTE.—Branch societies have been formed in New York and Philadelphia.

The first meeting of the society was held in Boston on the 18th of December, at which much of the necessary work of organization was accomplished; and at an adjourned meeting, held in Boston Jan. 8, 1885, the organization of the society was completed.

The Committee on Work, or suggestions as to possible work, sent out circulars to the members of the society, calling for volunteers as members of the investigating committees, and received a number of answers, the most of which were from those specially interested in thought-transference; and the committee recommended the appointment of a sub-committee on that subject.  They also suggested that a circular should be issued by the society, describing the methods of making experiments in thought-transference, and pointing out the precautions to be taken.  Such a committee was appointed by the Council, and issued a circular (NO. 4).

It is the first report of this committee on thought-transference, which makes up the larger part of this the first number of the proceedings.  The report was presented at the third meeting of the society, held in Boston, June 4, 1885.  With this report are also published the various circulars which have been issued by the society, as showing what methods have been employed to accomplish the objects of the society.



At a meeting held in Boston, Sept. 23, for the purpose of considering the advisability of forming a Society for Psychical Research in America, a committee with full powers was appointed; and under its auspices THE AMERICAN SOCIETY FOR PSYCHICAL RESEARCH has been organized, and is now in a position to invite the adhesion of members.  The aims of the English society of similar name can be best understood from the following extracts from its printed proceedings:

“The Society for Psychical Research was formed in the beginning of 1882, for the purpose of making an organized and systematic attempt to investigate that large group of debatable phenomena designated by such terms as ‘mesmeric,’ ‘psychical,’ and ‘spiritualist.’  From the recorded testimony of many competent witnesses, past and present, including observations recently made by scientific men of eminence in various countries, there appears to be, amidst much illusion and deception, an important body of remarkable phenomena, which are prima facie inexplicable on any generally recognized hypothesis, and which, is incontestably established, would be of the highest possible value.  The task of examining such residual phenomena has often been undertaken by individual effort, but never hitherto by a scientific society organized on a sufficiently broad basis.

“The aim of the Society is to approach these various problems without prejudice or prepossession of any kind, and in the same spirit of exact and unimpassioned inquiry which has enabled science to solve so many problems, once not less obscure nor less hotly debated.  The founders of this Society fully recognize the exceptional difficulties which surround this branch of research; but they nevertheless hope that, by patient and systematic effort, some results of permanent value may be attained.”

The following are among the subjects which have been intrusted to special committees:

“1. An examination of the nature and extent of any influence which may be exerted by one mind upon another, apart from any generally recognized mode of perception.

“2. The study of hypnotism, and the forms of so-called mesmeric trance (with its alleged insensibility to pain), clairvoyance, and other allied phenomena.

“3. A critical revision of Reichenbach’s researches with certain organizations called ‘sensitive,’ and an inquiry whether such organizations possess any power of perception beyond a highly exalted sensibility of the recognized sensory organs.”

The following are the officers of the English society: President, Professor Henry Sidgwick; Vice-Presidents, Arthur J. Balfour, M.P., Professor W. F. Barrett, Rt. Rev. the Bishop of Carlisle, John R. Holland, M.P., Richard H. Hutton, the Rev. W. Stainton Moses, the Hon. Roden Noel, Professor Lord Rayleigh, Professor Balfour Stewart, and Hensleigh Wedgwood.

Professor Barrett, who was present at the preliminary meeting in Boston, after reading the brief outline of the objects of the English society, as given above, made the following statement of the results already obtained:

“Once the Society’s work begun, a stream of testimony set in, and offers of evidence were many.  Every possibility of error suggested by experience and ingenuity was eliminated.  The experiments made in the last two years by members of the Society will carry conviction, I think, to every candid mind.  Many tests were made in which the subject reproduced a diagram or drawing of which some other person thought.  . . . The other committees of the Society have studied the subjects assigned to them with great assiduity, and have obtained a vast amount of information and data.  . . . The work of sifting out of the mass of errors, misconceptions, and ignorance, which usually surround such stories, the data which may serve for scientific purposes, is an intensely interesting one.  Of course persons who take up the matter must expect no little ridicule, and perhaps some abuse.  But out of alchemy came chemistry; and out of astrology, astronomy.  There may be much in these extraordinary accounts of second-sight, thought-reading, apparitions, and so forth, fit only to ridicule; but if there are any facts at the bottom, we want to find them.”

The Council of the American society feel that the evidence published by the English society is of a nature not to be ignored by scientific men, especially where the alleged facts would, if real, permit verification, and the conditions allow control.

In other branches of human experience, the publication of observations, made with as much apparent care, and under such distinguished auspices, immediately invites many careful students to the work of corroboration or disproof.  The personal ability and character of the English investigators, and the accuracy of their methods, if they do not compel the doubter forthwith to believe their conclusions, seem at least to make it impossible for him dogmatically to deny them, without support from something more solid than general presumptions about the order of nature, and the fallibility of human testimony.

The Council of the American society therefore feels that the duty can be no longer postponed of systematically repeating observations similar to those made in England, with a view to confirming them if true, to definitely pointing out the sources of error in them if false.  If true, they are of value, and the tracing of their limits becomes a scientific duty.  If false, no time should be lost in publishing their refutation; for, if allowed long to stand uncontradicted, their only effect will be to re-enforce powerfully the popular drift toward superstition.

The Council therefore begs all persons to whom this circular is sent, who agree with these practical conclusions, and who believe that the exact study of this border-land of human experience is an urgent scientific need, to send in their names to the secretary of the society.


To hold office till October, 1885.
Prof. G. F. Barker, Philadelphia
Rev. C. C. Everett, Cambridge
Mr. Samuel H. Scudder, Cambridge
Mr. Coleman Sellers, Philadelphia
Mr. Moorfield Storey, Boston
Prof. John Trowbridge, Cambridge (Resigned)
Prof. William Watson, Boston

To hold office till October, 1886.
Dr. Henry P. Bowditch, Boston
Mr. C. C. Jackson, Boston
Col. T. W. Higginson, Cambridge
Mr. N. D. C. Hodges, Cambridge
Dr. Charles S. Minot, Boston
Prof. Simon Newcomb, Washington
Mr. W. H. Pickering, Boston

To hold office till October, 1887.
Prof. G. S. Fullerton, Philadelphia
Prof. William James, Cambridge
Prof. G. Stanley Hall, Baltimore
Prof. James M. Peirce, Cambridge
Prof. E. C. Pickering, Cambridge
Mr. R. Pearsall Smith, Philadelphia
Major A. A. Woodhull, New York


Dr. Charles C. Abbott, Trenton, N.J.
Prof. G. F. Barker, 3909 Locust St., Phila.
Dr. H. P. Bowditch, Harv. Med. School, Boston
Rev. Phillips Brooks, 233 Clarendon St., Boston
Edward Burgess, Soc. of Nat. Hist., Boston
Lucien Carr, Cambridge
Dr. J. R. Chadwick, 270 Clarendon St., Boston
Prof. Edward D. Cope, 2100 Pine St., Phila.
Dr. W. O. Crosby, Soc. of Nat. Hist., Boston
Prof. C. R. Cross, Inst. of Tech., Boston
George Dimmock, 61 Sacramento St., Cambridge
Prof. W. B. Dwight, Poughkeepsie, N. Y.
Dr. R. T. Edes, 76 Marlborough St., Boston
S. F. Emmons, 23 Lafayette Place, Washington
Glendower Evans, 39 Court St., Boston
Rev. C. C. Everett, 53 Garden St., Cambridge
Dr. Persifor Frazer, 917 Clinton St., Phila.
Prof. G. S. Fullerton, 3629 Walnut St., Phila.
Thomas Gaffield, 54 Allen St., Boston.
Dr. F. H. Gerrish, Portland, Me.
G. K. Gilbert, Box 501, Washington
Prof. Asa Gray, Cambridge
Rev. John B. Haines, Burlington, N. J.
E. H. Hall, Harvard College, Cambridge
Prof. G. Stanley Hall, Baltimore, Md.
Prof. James Hall, Albany, N. Y.
Prof. A. S. Hardy, Hanover, N. H.
William T. Harris, Concord, Mass.
Angelo Heilprin, Acad. of Nat. Sc., Phila.
Samuel Henshaw, Soc. of Nat. Hist., Boston
Col. T. W. Higginson, Cambridge
N. D. C. Hodges, Cambridge
Dr. J. B. Holder, Amer. Mus. Nat. Hist., Central Park, N. Y.
Henry Holt, 29 West 23rd St., N. Y.
Gardiner G. Hubbard, Washington
Prof. A. Hyatt, Soc. of Nat. Hist., Boston
C. C. Jackson, 181 Commonwealth Ave., Boston
Prof. William James, Cambridge
J. H. Kidder, Smithson. Inst., Washington
Prof. D. G. Lyon, 7 Lowell St., Cambridge
J. B. Marcou, National Museum, Washington
Prof. John P. Marshall, College Hill, Mass.
W. J. McGee, U. S. Geol. Survey, Washington
Dr. C. S. Minot, 25 Mount Vernon St., Boston
Prof. Simon Newcomb, Washington
Prof. A. S. Packard, Providence, R. I.
Prof. B. O. Peirce, Box 74, Waverly, Mass.
Prof. J. M. Peirce, Cambridge
Prof. Edward C. Pickering, Cambridge
W. H. Pickering, Inst. of Tech., Boston
Dr. Morton Prince, Boston
Raphael Pumpelly, Newport, R. I.
Dr. C. P. Putnam, 63 Marlborough St., Boston
F. W. Putnam, Cambridge
Dr. J. J. Putnam, 63 Marlborough St., Boston
N. A. Randolph, 3706 Locust St., Phila.
Dr. E. T. Reichert, Univ. of Penn., Phila.
Prof. J. M. Rice, U. S. Nav. Acad., Annapolis, Md.
C. V. Riley, 1700 13th St., N.W., Washington
John Ritchie, Jun., Box 2725, Boston.
John C. Ropes, 40 State St., Boston
Prof. Josiah Royce, Cambridge
C. S. Sargent, Brookline
Rev. Minot J. Savage, Boston
Samuel H. Scudder, Cambridge
Dr. E. C. Seguin, 24 West 50th St., N. Y.
Coleman Sellers, 3301 Baring St., Phila.
Benjamin Sharp, Acad. of Nat. Sc., Phila.
R. W. Shufeldt, Smithson. Inst., Washington
R. Pearsall Smith, 4653 Germantown Ave., Phila.
Moorfield Storey, Boston
Prof. C. H. Toy, Cambridge
F. W. True, U. S. Nat. Mus., Washington
Edmund Tweedy, Newport, R. I.
B. H. Van Vleck, Soc. of Nat. Hist., Boston
Dr. O. F. Wadsworth, 139 Boylston St., Boston
Sereno Watson, Cambridge
Prof. W. Watson, 107 Marlborough St., Boston
Dr. Samuel Wells, 155 Boylston St., Boston
Andrew D. White, Cornell Univ., Ithaca, N. Y.
Major A. A. Woodhull, David’s Isl., Pelham, N. Y.
Rev. E. J. Young, Raymond St., Cambridge.


Francis E. Abbot, Cambridge
Prof. Felix Adler, 50 East 77th St., N. Y.
Joseph Albree, 401 Wood St., Pittsburg
Francis Almy, Anchor Line Office, Buffalo
Charles H. Ames, 218 W. Canton St., Boston
Prof. Peter T. Austen, New Brunswick, N. J.
W. H. Babcock, Box 220, Washington
Dr. Dallas Bache, Fort Adams, Newport, R. I.
Robert H. Bancroft, 247 Beacon St., Boston
Pres. F. A. P. Barnard, Columbia Coll., N. Y.
Rev. S. J. Barrows, 141 Franklin St., Boston
Dr. E. G. Bartlett, 48 West 53rd St., N. Y.
Dr. W. E. Bartlett, 48 West 53rd St., N. Y.
Waldron Bates, 7 Pemberton Sq., Boston
George Biddle, 208 South 5th St., Phila.
Dr. W. R. Birdsall, 144 East 74th St., N. Y.
James B. Bond, 230 West 50th St., N. Y.
Dr. H. I. Bowditch, 113 Boylston St., Boston
George H. Bradford, care Bradford, Thomas, & Co., Boston
Frederick G. Bromberg, Mobile, Ala.
Dr. S. Brown, Bloomingdale Asylum, N. Y.
G. H. Browne, Appian Way, Cambridge
Dr. J. C. Browne, Vincenton, N. J.
Dr. Albert H. Buck, 109 Madison Ave., N. Y.
Dr. W. N. Bullard, 127 Boylston St., Boston
Col. John C. Bundy, 92 La Salle St., Chicago.
Dr. R. M. Burke, London, Ontario, Can.
John B. Burnett, Esq., Syracuse, N. Y.
Gouverneur M. Carnochan, Cambridge
A. E. Carpenter, 3 Concord Sq., Boston
Samuel Cassner, Jun., 203 Walnut St., Phila.
Capt. R. Catlin, U. S. A., Dobbs Ferry, N. Y.
Dr. G. B. Chase, 234 Beacon St., Boston
John P. Clarke, 50 Post-Office Building, N. Y.
W. B. Clark, 214 Beacon St., Boston
Samuel Coleman, Newport, R. I.
Prof. A. S. Cook, Univ. of Cal., Berkeley, Cal.
Dr. A. Coolidge, 81 Marlborough St., Boston
C. B. Cory, 8 Arlington St., Boston
Dr. E. Cowles, McLean Asylum, Somerville
Prof. John C. Curtis, 127 East 35th St., N. Y.
E. C. Cushman, Newport, R. I.
Arthur H. Cutter, 20 West 43rd St., N. Y.
Dr. C. L. Dana, 66 West 46th St., N. Y.
Thomas Davidson, Orange, N. J.
Mrs. M. L. Dickinson, 230 West 59th St., N. Y.
Prof. E. Emerton, Cambridge
Samuel H. Emery, Jun., Concord, Mass.
Prof. J. H. Farmer, Woodstock, Ontario, Can.
Thomas C. Felton, 4 Mt. Vernon Pl., Boston
Prof. George Forman, Rahway, N. J.
Christine Ladd Franklin, Baltimore
Amos Tuck French, Newport, R. I.
G. French, ‘Evening Gazette,’ Worcester, Mass.
Rev. O. B. Frothingham, Boston
E. G. Gardiner, Inst. of Tech., Boston
Benjamin I. Gilman, 5 Waterhouse St., Cambridge
Mrs. John Gray, 120 Beacon St., Boston
Prof. John C. Gray, 175 Beacon St., Boston
William K. Haines, Vincenton, N. J.
George S. Hale, 10 Tremont St., Boston
Prof. T. P. Hall, Woodstock, Ontario, Can.
Judge William D. Harden, Savannah, Ga.
H. F. Harrington, Superintendent of Schools, New Bedford, Mass.
Rev. Charles Higbee, Pelham, N. Y.
Dr. J. L. Hildreth, 16 Garden St., Cambridge
Edward B. Hill, 58 Wall St., N. Y.
R. A. Holland, Trinity Rectory, New Orleans
Samuel V. V. Holmes, Princeton, N. J.
Prof. E. J. Houston, 610 North 17th St., Phila.
Woodward Hudson, Esq., Concord, Mass.
Rev. J. E. Hurlbut, West Springfield, Mass.
Mrs. M. L. Jackson, 261 North 6th St., Phila.
Dr. Walter James, 59th St. and G. Ave., N. Y.
Dr. William C. Jarvis, N. Y.
Prof. H. Jayne, 1826 Chestnut St., Phila.
H. La Barre Jayne, 208 South 5th St., Phila.
Charles R. Johnson, Worcester, Mass.
Rev. Franklin Johnson, Cambridge
Dr. Daniel Karsner, Germantown, Penn.
Prof. William Laughlin, Cambridge
Walter E. Lawton, 31 Broadway, N. Y.
Dr. Albert Leffingwell, Dansville, N. Y.
Louis E. Levy, 846 North 8th St., Phila.
Frank S. Lewis, 1507 North 18th St., Phila.
Prof. William Libbey, Jun., Princeton, N. J.
John S. Lockwood, 17 Franklin St., Boston
Mrs. A. C. M. Lodge, 31 Beacon St., Boston
John Lothrop, 10 Gloucester St., Boston
J. B. McChesney, Oakland, Cal.
Edward W. McClure, Concord, Mass.
Robert McCook, Steubenville, O.
Charles MacVeagh, 45 William St., N. Y.
Rev. John E. Mandi, Exeter, N. H.
Prof. Allan Marquand, Princeton, N. J.
H. Marquand, Madison Ave., cor. 68th St., N. Y.
Henry Rutgers Marshall, 74 Wall St., N. Y.
Dr. W. Mendelson, 209 West 46th St., N. Y.
F. Carles Merry, Pelham Manor, West Chester Co., N. Y.
Dr. C. K. Mills, 113 South 19th St., Phila.
Dr. G. R. Morehouse, 227 South 9th St., Phila.
Dr. J. L. Morrill, 301 East 72nd St., N. Y.
Charles Morris, 1822 Spring Garden St., Phila.
Dr. James R. Nichols, Haverhill, Mass.
John Hawkes Noble, Cambridge
Lieut. Charles R. Noyes, Fort D. A. Russell, Cheyenne, Wy.
Richard J. Nunn, 119 York St., Savannah, Ga.
Dr. C. A. Oliver, 1507 Locust St., Phila.
Gen. F. A. Osborn, 236 Marlboro’ St., Boston
William K. Otis, 108 West 34th St., N. Y.
A. E. Outerbridge, 249 North 18th St., Phila.
Cap. Carl Palfrey, Cambridge
Prof. G. H. Palmer, Cambridge
William L. Parker, 339 Marlboro’ St., Boston
Francis Parkman, 50 Chestnut St., Boston
Rev. F. G. Peabody, Cambridge
Dr. Grace Peckham, 5 Livingston Place, N. Y.
Dr. C. B. Penrose, 1331 Spruce St., Phila.
Rev. Henry Powers, Grand Rapids, Mich.
W. P. Preble, Jun., 5 Pemberton Sq., Boston
George Putnam, Quincy St., Cambridge
Rev. Mr. Rainsford, 209 East 16th St., N. Y.
Arthur Reed, 66 State St., Boston
Edwin Reed, 163 Brattle St., Cambridge
Pres. W. T. Reid, Univ. of Cal., Berkeley, Cal.
Dr. J. West Roosevelt, 56 W. 18th St., N. Y.
Theodore Roosevelt, N. Y.
Samuel H. Russell, 135 Beacon St., Boston
G. C. Sawer, Utica, N. Y.
Erwin Schermerhorn, Burlington, N. J.
Pres. Julius H. Seelye, Amherst, Mass.
Prof. O. Seidenstecker, 1016 Cherry St., Phila.
Prof. N. S. Shaler, Cambridge
Thomas Sherwin, Jamaica Plain, Mass.
Mrs. Aubrey H. Smith, Phila.
H. W. Smith, 4th and Walnut Sts., Phila.
Mrs. Hannah W. Smith, 4653 Germantown Ave., Phila.
Horace J. Smith, Coulter House, Germantown, Penn.
L. Logan Smith, 8 Berkeley St., Cambridge
Loyd P. Smith, Philadelphia Library, Phila.
Mary W. Smith, Phila.
R. Morris Smith, 3711 Chestnut St., Phila.
Dr. M. Allan Starr, 29 East 62nd St., N. Y.
Francis P. Stearns, College Hill, Mass.
Dr. H. Stedman, Roslindale, Mass.
A. W. Stevens, University Press, Cambridge
Dr. William G. Stevenson, 339 Mill St., Poughkeepsie, N. Y.
Albert Storer, 40 State St., Boston
Malcolm Storer, Cambridge
Albert Stone, 40 State St., Boston
Charles W. Stone, 68 Chestnut St., Boston
Frederick S. Taylor, Cambridge
Roland Thaxter, 98 Pinckney St., Boston
Prof. R. E. Thompson, Univ. of Penn., Phila.
Dr. W. G. Thompson, 49 East 30th St., N. Y.
Dr. George M. Tuttle, 25 West 26th St., N. Y.
Rev. C. Van Norden, Springfield, Mass.
William H. Wahl, Franklin Institute, Phila.
Dr. E. W. Warren, 84 Charles St., Boston
Dr. Walter Wesselhoeft, Cambridge
Miss Frances E. Willard, Evanston, Ill.
J. E. Woodhead, 171 W. Washington St., Chicago
T. K. Worthington, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore


[ Ephemera Home] [ Spiritualist Listings ]