Fox Sisters Contact a Spirit
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On March 31, 1848, Margaret Fox, 15, and sister, Kate, 11, decided to scare their mother by pretending to communicate with a ghost through a series of raps in their Hydesville, N.Y. farmhouse. Their astonished mother invited neighbors to come witness these communications. As the crowds grew, an older sister, Leah Fox Fish, took the girls to Rochester and New York to conduct larger seances.

Soon, mediums began to come forward across the country -- and Spiritualism, the belief that spirits can communicate with the living through mediums, was embraced as one of the wonders of their times (one popular tenet: the equality of all souls).

In her 1888 memoir The Death Blow to Spiritualism, Margaret Fox confessed to the prank. But the movement was undeterred.

In 1893, James Martin Peebles and Cora L.V. Scott, among others, founded the National Spiritualist Association of Churches, formalizing Spiritualism as a religious group.
Interactive Timeline(s)
Women and Religion
Browse Related Timeline Entries
Women and Religion in American History
Religious Groups
Timeline Entries for the same religious group Spiritualist Family
Spiritualist Family: Other ARDA Links


Fox sisters- Internet Archive- from Abraham Lincoln and Religion

Fox family and their Hydesville home- Internet Archive- from Hydesville by Thomas Olman Todd

The three Fox sisters- Internet Archive- from Nineteenth Century Miracles by Emma Hardinge Britten

The Death Blow to Spiritualism, cover- Internet Archive
Book/Journal Source(s)
Lippy, Charles, and Peter Williams, 2010. Encyclopedia of Religion in America. Washington, D.C.: CQ Press.
Melton, J. Gordon, 2009. Melton's Encyclopedia of American Religions, Eighth Edition. Farmington Hills, MI: Gale.
Web Source(s)
"The Fox Sisters: Spiritualism's Unlikely Founders"
Web Page Contributor
Sandi Dolbee
Affliated with: Former Religion and Ethics Editor, The San Diego Union-Tribune

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