Walter Meyer zu Erpen, MAS, is the founder and a director of the Survival Research Institute of Canada (https://survivalresearch.ca). He is a professional archivist. Preserving the Historical Collections of Parapsychology website is https://phcp.nl. The Psychic News Digital Archives can be found at https://libguides.lib.umanitoba.ca/psychicnews.
This interview was recorded in Las Vegas, NV, where Walter was one of the award recipients of the Bigelow Institute for Consciousness Studies essay competition. Here he discusses his work as an archivist endeavoring to professionally preserve rare records of psychical research and spiritualism. Of particular interest is the research in Winnipeg, Canada, in the early 1920s of Thomas Glendenning Hamilton – who was able to photograph many instances of both ectoplasm and table levitation.
The interview is available to watch on YouTube: Archives of the Paranormal with Walter Meyer zu Erpen · The New Thinking Allowed Foundation
The “minutes” that follow provide an overview of the research and investigators discussed, including links to archival finding aids or institutional profiles, as well as elaboration in several instances. The approximate “minute” of the start of discussion of a topic should facilitate access.
Min. 3 My dear late colleague Debra Barr instigated the Archivaria article about sources for the study of the Spiritualist movement in Canada that started my investigation
Min. 4 Discovered that records of the T.G. and Lillian Hamilton psychical research experiments are deposited at University of Manitoba Archives & Special Collections (UMASC) as the Hamilton family fonds
Min. 4 Volume of records of the paranormal at risk
Min. 4 Preserving the Historical Collections of Parapsychology meetings (2014 Utrecht and 2018 Winnipeg)
Min. 6 Work of Blynne Olivieri and her colleagues at the University of West Georgia with respect to archives of William G. (Bill) Roll and Ingo Swann
Min. 6 Tribute to Erlendur Haraldsson in Magazine of the Society for Psychical Research (MSPR) and eventual deposit of his research archives
Min. 7 Work of Jeffrey Kripal and Anna Shparberg to establish a paranormal research archive at Rice University and fact of institutions working collaboratively
Min. 7 Role of Steve Braude and Tom Beck in preserving, at the University of Maryland (Baltimore), the thoughtography research of Jule Eisenbud with Ted Serios
Min. 7 J. Gordon Melton’s Encyclopedia of Occultism and Parapsychology and the deposit of his American Religions Collection at the University of California (Santa Barbara)
Min. 9 Need for endowments to accompany the donation of archives and libraries, to assist with creation of finding aids, digitization, and long-term preservation
Min. 10 Research into healing by Montreal biologist Bernard R. Grad deposited at UMASC
Min. 11 List of UMASC Psychical Research and Spiritualism Collections
Min. 11 Records of psychical researcher Alexander Imich, who died at age 111 when he was briefly America’s oldest living male, deposited at UMASC
Min. 12 Experiments with “Philip the Imaginary Ghost” by Iris and A.R.G. (George) Owen and the Toronto Society for Psychical Research
Min. 12 Apports from Stanley Krippner’s experiments with Brazilian medium Amyr Amiden deposited at UMASC. Though acquisition of artifacts by archives is not the norm, the precedent had been set by spoon-bending artifacts acquired in the Alexander Imich fonds
Min. 13 Discussion of archival “letters of intent” with Stanley Krippner, also with Rosemarie Pilkington whose study of psychic phenomena has resulted in her Séance Science website
Min. 14 Séance table belonging to William and Florence Creighton who participated in the T. Glen and Lillian Hamilton psychical research experiments
Min. 14 The archives of Spiritualist Thomas Welton Stanford, younger brother of Leland Stanford who was the founder of Stanford University, are preserved at the university and include artifacts apported during séances. Thank you to Roy Stemman who provided references from Psychic News (PN) that clarify that the apports were received through Australian Spiritualist medium Charles Bailey (see PN, 27 August 1932, p. 1; and PN, 7 July 1973, p. 8).
Min. 17 Psychical research by Professor Wilhelm Tenhaeff at Utrecht & role of Wim Kramer and the Het Johan Borgman Fonds in preserving the libraries and archives of Dutch psychical researchers, Spiritualists, Theosophists, and others.
Min. 18 Discussion of the Winnipeg psychical research experiments of T. Glen and Lillian Hamilton. The Hamilton family fonds deposited at UMASC was the original focus of my historical study and the impetus for many additional (related and unrelated) psychical research and Spiritualism collections deposited at UMASC.
Min. 18 Role of W.T. (William Talbot) Allison in stimulating the Hamiltons’ interest in psychical research through his investigation of the Patience Worth phenomenon through Mrs. Pearl Curran of St. Louis, Missouri
Min. 19 Discovery that the Hamilton children’s nanny Elizabeth Poole could produce a strong telekinetic effect
Min. 20 T.G. Hamilton’s photographs of non-contact table levitations
Min. 21 Winnipeg Society for Psychical Research founded in 1931
Min. 22 Muddled thinking about what constitutes evidence of life after death
Min. 22 The Scottish sisters-in-law Mary Ann Marshall and Susan Marshall were the mediums central to the ectoplasmic manifestations photographed by T.G. Hamilton
Min. 25 T.G. Hamilton’s time-lapse photographs of the fourth Charles Haddon Spurgeon miniature face in teleplasm, copies of which are included in lawyer H.A.V. (Harry) Green’s photo album
Min. 26 UMASC link to Hamilton Family digital collections, from which digital copies of the family’s two books and a detailed bibliography about the Hamilton Family Psychical Research Experiments can be accessed
Min. 27 Working with Roy Stemman, Psychic Press Ltd., and University of Manitoba digital collections staff on project to digitize and make available historical issues of Psychic News (PN) (1932-2010) through University of Manitoba digital collections
Min. 29 Participation on 3 June 2008 in Stewart Alexander’s home circle in Hull, Yorkshire, including shaking the materialized hand claimed to be of Walter Stinson, brother of Mina (Stinson) Crandon, the Boston medium known as “Margery” (experience described in my BICS essay, pp. 58-59).
Min. 32 Collaboration with Anna Thurlow, great-granddaughter of Margery, on biographical history of Walter Stinson, submitted for publication in a future issue of the Magazine of the Society for Psychical Research (MSPR)
Min. 32 Group mediumship that developed within the T. Glen and Lillian Hamilton group in Winnipeg
Min. 33 Role of Mark W. Richardson and his voice cut-out device in authenticating the Margery direct-voice phenomenon
Min. 35 Museums and libraries at Lily Dale and Camp Chesterfield that preserve the history of those Spiritualist camps, with Ron Nagy as resident historian at Lily Dale
Min. 36 Possibility of a future project to identify a complete copy of the American Psychic Observer for digitization
Min. 36 Among the many artifacts of Spiritualism are the precipitated paintings by the Bangs sisters that are discussed in books by Ronald Nagy and Riley Heagerty
Min. 37 Possibility of macro-PK table phenomena observed between 1921 and 1927 by T.G. and Lillian Hamilton and many associates confirmed through participation in the Victoria Spiritualist study group where we witnessed a table pivoting on one leg (three legs off the ground), with no physical downward pressure on that leg
Min. 38 Frustration about individuals such as Christopher French and James Alcock contributing irrelevant content and opinion in the Conjuring Philip documentary (2008), in part because they were not shown the video footage used of the Victoria group working with the table
Min. 39 Participation of retired NASA aeronautical engineer William E. Stoney and Joy Stoney in the Victoria table-tilting group sessions when the table pivoted on one leg in each of four corners, in quick succession
Min. 40 After George and Iris Owen’s death, their son Robin deposited the remaining records of the Toronto SPR with the Survival Research Institute of Canada, which digitized the New Horizons Foundation Journal and privately-circulated New Horizons Foundation occasional papers and deposited the A.R.G. (George) and Iris M. Owen fonds at UMASC
Min. 46 Importance of preserving the archives of the paranormal so that every generation of researchers does not reinvent the wheel
Min. 47 Over twenty years’ research by Michel Granger has culminated in La Saga de l’Ectoplasme (3 volumes, first volume published in 2021; mentioned in my BICS essay, pp. 55-56)
Min. 48 Hands materialized during séances, dipped in molten wax and then cold water, created paraffin molds that were filled with plaster to create a permanent paranormal object
Min. 49 William and Florence Creighton as participants in the T.G. and Lillian Hamilton research
Min. 50 Recommendation to future researchers and students to avoid research topics around the fringe of the paranormal, such as table movements and ectoplasm, to focus rather on more frequently reported Exceptional Human Experiences (EHE)
Min. 51 Spontaneous After-Death Communications (ADCs) are a good example of a common EHE that could be documented online along the lines of what Jeffrey and Jody Long have initiated through their ADCRF website. Research methodology comparable to that developed by Ian Stevenson and colleagues at Charlottesville in their study of reincarnation cases could be applied to ADCs.
Min. 51 Importance of knowing the who, what, when, where, why, and how about the many individuals who have published about the paranormal and life after death.
Min. 53 Jeff Mishlove has conducted over 1000 interviews that are available through his YouTube channel that will be preserved by Google
Thank you to the University of Manitoba Archives & Special Collections for permission to include these photographs between minutes 18 and 25:
- MSS 14, Hamilton Family fonds, PC 12 (A79-041), Box 11, Folder 14, Item 4, Thomas Glendenning Hamilton, ca. 1930
- MSS 14, PC 12, Box 9, Folder 1, Item 8, E.G.D. Freeman observing non-contact table levitation, photographed by T.G. Hamilton, Winnipeg, 11 February 1926
- MSS 14, PC 12, Box 9, Folder 1, Item 5, T.G. Hamilton séance room cameras, Winnipeg, late 1920s
- MSS 14, PC 12, Box 10, Folder 8, Item 55, “Umbrella” teleplasm with medium Mary Marshall (first exposure), by T. Glen Hamilton, Winnipeg, 25 February 1934
- MSS 14, PC 12, Box 9, Folder 6, Item 18, Fourth Charles Haddon Spurgeon miniature face (first exposure), by T.G. Hamilton, Winnipeg, 1 May 1929
- MSS 439 (A12-100), H.A.V. Green photograph album, page 8, Fourth Charles Haddon Spurgeon miniature face (second exposure), by T.G. Hamilton, Winnipeg, 1 May 1929