A discussion of the Victorian fascination with spirit boards, automatic writing, and other methods of channeling the dead.

Presented by Sandra Fenton

Whether channeling the dead through a professional medium or as a home hobbyist, the popularity of spiritism during the Victorian era led to a healthy trade in communication tools, and plenty of methods to contact the dearly departed. Come learn about such methods as using talking boards and automatic writing, formal seance and spirit photography, discuss the concerns of the time surrounding such techniques, as well as the hopes and skepticism surrounding them. Hear how the lines between science, religion, superstition, necromancy, divination, and grief converged in the spiritist movement.

Sandra Fenton is a historian and cemeterian from Northern Illinois. Long interested in the folklore and traditions surrounding rites of passage and the macabre, she helps maintain a small cemetery and preserve the eroding names of the dead before they weather away. She takes her tea without cream or lemon, and enjoys long picnics among the headstones on warm, cloud dappled days.


Chicago Steampunk Exposition