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James H. Hyslop

James H. Hyslop
Born James Hervey Hyslop
(1854-08-18)August 18, 1854
Xenia, Ohio, US
Died June 17, 1920(1920-06-17) (aged 65)
Upper Montclair, New Jersey, US
Occupation Professor, philosopher, psychical researcher, parapsychologist, writer
Education Wooster College, Ohio (B.A., 1877)
University of Leipzig (1882–84)
Johns Hopkins University (Ph.D., 1877)
Subject Ethics, logic, psychics, mediumship, afterlife
Spouse Mary Hall Hyslop (nee Fry)
Children George H. Hyslop
Mary Winifred Hyslop
Beatrice F. Hyslop

James Hervey Hyslop, Ph.D, LL.D, (August 18, 1854 – June 17, 1920) was a professor of ethics and logic at Columbia University, a psychologist, and a psychical researcher. From 1906 until his death he was the secretary-treasurer of the American Society for Psychical Research. He was one of the first American psychologists to connect psychology with psychic phenomena.[1]


  • Education and academic career 1
  • Psychical research 2
  • Personal life and family 3
  • Reception 4
  • Bibliography 5
  • References 6
  • Further reading 7
  • External links 8

Education and academic career

Hyslop was educated at Wooster College, Ohio (B.A., 1877), the University of Leipzig (1882–84), and Johns Hopkins University (Ph.D., 1877).[1]

He served as an instructor in Philosophy in Lake Forest University in Illinois during 1880–82 and 1884–85, as the head of Department of Philosophy in Smith College in Massachusetts during 1885–86, and as a faculty member in Bucknell University in Pennsylvania during 1888–89.[2] From 1889–91 he worked as a tutor in philosophy, ethics and psychology. From 1891–95 he worked as an instructor in ethics and from 1895–1902 as the professor of logic and ethics in Columbia University.[2]

During his years at Columbia University Hyslop wrote several textbooks, including The Elements of Logic (1892), Elements of Ethics (1895), and Problems of Philosophy (1905), and also became deeply involved with psychical research.[1]

In 1902 he received an honorary degree (LL.D) from the University of Wooster.[2]

Psychical research

Originally an agnostic and materialist,[3] Hyslop's interest in psychic investigation increased after sessions with the Boston medium Leonora Piper, whom he first met as early as 1888.[1] He believed that through her he had received messages from his father, his wife, and other members of his family, about which he reported in the Journal of the Society for Psychical Research (London, 1901).[2] He became an active member of the Society for Psychical Research and of its American branch, working closely with the secretary of the American group, Richard Hodgson, and with William James.

After retiring from his teaching post due to ill health, Hyslop founded the American Institute for Scientific Research in 1904 to stir interest and raise funds for psychical research. He had initially planned one section of it to be devoted to the study of abnormal psychology and another section to psychic research, believing, as he said, that "at certain points the two fields tend to merge and at others they are widely separated".[2] However, the year following Richard Hodgson's death in 1905, the American Society for Psychical Research was dissolved. Hyslop revived ASPR as a section of his institute, and it soon absorbed and replaced the institute altogether.[1]

In 1906, Hyslop criticized the famous experiments of

  • James H. Hyslop's works in the Internet Archive
  • James H. Hyslop's contributions in various journals
  • Beatrice Fry Hyslop Correspondence at Mount Holyoke College

External links

  • Carlos Alvarado. (2014). Visions of the Dying', by James H Hyslop (1907). History of Psychiatry 25: 237-252.
  • Roger Anderson. (1885). The Life and Work of James H. Hyslop. The Journal of the American Society for Psychical Research 79: 167-204.
  • Roger Anderson. (1886). Autobiographical Fragment of James Hervey Hyslop. The Journal of Religion and Psychical Research 9: 81-92.
  • Roger Anderson. (1886). Autobiographical Fragment of James Hervey Hyslop Part III. The Journal of Religion and Psychical Research 9: 145-60.
  • Hereward Carrington. (1907). The Physical Phenomena of Spiritualism. Herbert B. Turner & Co. Chapter The Slade-Zöllner Investigation. pp. 19–47
  • Robert Charles Powell. (1980). James Hervey Hyslop (1854-1920) and the American Institute for Scientific Research, 1904-1934: An Attempt Toward the Coordinated Study of Psychopathology and Psychical Phenomena. Essays in the History of Psychiatry: A Tenth Anniversary Supplementary Volume to the Psychiatric Forum: 161-171.

Further reading

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i  
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h Helene Pleasants (1964). Biographical Dictionary of Parapsychology. Garrett Publications. 
  3. ^ a b "DR. JAMES H. HYSLOP DIES OF BLOOD CLOT; Noted Psychologist and Author Expires at 66 in Montclair After Long Illness. EX-COLUMBIA PROFESSOR Called by Sir Oliver Lodge the Leader of Psychical Research in America.".  
  4. ^ Hereward Carrington. (1907). The Physical Phenomena of Spiritualism. Herbert B. Turner & Co. Chapter The Slade-Zöllner Investigation. pp. 19-47
  5. ^ a b c d  
  6. ^ Rosemary Guiley. (2009). The Encyclopedia of Demons and Demonology. Checkmark Books. p. 69. ISBN 0-8160-7314-7.
  7. ^ a b Arthur Berger. (1988). Lives and Letters in American Parapsychology: A Biographical History, 1850-1987. McFarland. p. 62. ISBN 0-89950-345-4. The charges made against Hyslop by Pope and Friend when they resigned from the ASPR in 1915 have been reechoed recently by the historian R. Laurence Moore: Hyslop ran the ASPR "like a dictator". It was a one-man rule and Hyslop was no angel. James thought him crude. Funk told Hyslop bluntly: "[Y]ou antagonize." Hyslop's conduct in the Palladino case seems to have been costly to the ASPR. Hyslop's writings were criticized not only for their inadequacies but for his convoluted style. James's letters in 1901 and 1902 are full of complaints about it. To Hodgson he remarked: "I think Hyslop's discussions and methods admirable in all but literary style," and in his correspondence with Flournoy, he said: "[Hyslop's] report is intolerably ill written and I have not been able to read the whole of it. Sir Oliver Lodge deplored the fact that Hyslop did not have "the gift of expressing himself in clear and simple English. Throughout his voluminous writings the sentences are frequently involved, and sometimes so curiously constructed that it is difficult to disentangle their meaning." Sir William Barrett lamented similarly: "Hyslop would have gained a wider and more respectful hearing had he cultivated a better and more restrained style of writing, and been less dogmatic and combative in the expression of his opinions."
  8. ^ "Professor Edwin William Friend". The Lusitania Resource.
  9. ^ Michael Goss, George Behe. (1994). Lost at Sea: Ghost Ships and Other Mysteries. Prometheus Books. pp. 268-274. ISBN 0-87975-913-5.
  10. ^ Diana Preston. (2002). Lusitania: An Epic Tragedy. Walker Publishing Company. p. 105. ISBN 0-8027-1375-0.
  11. ^ a b c Alfred Douglas. (1982). Extra-Sensory Powers: A Century of Psychical Research. Overlook Press. pp. 170-171. ISBN 0-87951-064-1.
  12. ^ Jenny Hazelgrove. (2000). Spiritualism and British Society Between the Wars. Manchester University Press. p. 163. ISBN 0-7190-5559-8.
  13. ^ Peter Aykroyd. (2009). A History of Ghosts: The True Story of Séances, Mediums, Ghosts, and Ghostbusters. Rodale. p. 124. ISBN 1-60529-875-1.
  14. ^  
  15. ^ Barbara Sicherman; Carol Hurd Green (1980). Notable American Women: The Modern Period: A Biographical Dictionary, Volume 4.  
  16. ^ "DR. HYSLOP'S ESTATE SMALL; Will of Noted Psychologist offered for Probate Yesterday.".  
  17. ^ a b Gertrude O. Tubby, Weston D. Bailey. (1929). James H. Hyslop - X His Book: A Cross Reference Record. (2006 reprint ISBN 978-1425483531)
  18. ^ Josiah Royce. (1895). The Elements of Ethics. by James H. Hyslop. International Journal of Ethics. Vol. 6, No. 1. pp. 113-117.
  19. ^ Joseph Jastrow. (1906). Enigmas of Psychical Research by James H. Hyslop. The Journal of Philosophy, Psychology and Scientific Methods. Vol. 3, No. 18. pp. 498-500.
  20. ^ Henry W. Wright. (1907). Some Interpretations of the Supernatural. Le divin experience et hypothèse by Marcel Hébert; L'infinité divine depuis Philon le Juif jusqu'à Plotin by Henri Guyot; Science and a Future Life by James H. Hyslop; Borderland of Psychical Research by James H. Hyslop; The Spirit World by Joseph Hamilton. The American Journal of Theology. Vol. 11, No. 2. pp. 358-362.
  21. ^ Frank Podmore. (1902). Modern Spiritualism: A History and a Criticism. Volume 2. p. 345
  22. ^ Ivor Lloyd Tuckett. (1911). The Evidence for the Supernatural: A Critical Study Made with "Uncommon Sense". K. Paul, Trench, Trübner. pp. 321-395.
  23. ^ Martin Gardner. (1996). The Night Is Large: Collected Essays, 1938-1995. Chapter William James and Mrs. Piper. St. Martin's Press. pp. 213-243. ISBN 0-312-16949-3.
  24. ^ Robert Laurence Moore. (1977). In Search of White Crows: Spiritualism, Parapsychology, and American Culture. Oxford University Press. p. 161
  25. ^ Life After Death. Problems of the Future Life and Its Nature by James H. Hyslop. (1920). The Monist. Vol. 30, No. 4. pp. 639-640.
  26. ^ Joseph McCabe. (1920). Spiritualism: A Popular History From 1847. Dodd, Mead and Company. p. 198


  • The Elements of Logic: Theoretical and Practical (1892) (2009 reprint ISBN 1-115-80047-7)
  • Hume's Treatise of Morals: And Selections from the Treatise of the Passions (1893) (2010 reprint ISBN 1-163-90299-3)
  • Anomalies in Logic (1894)
  • Freedom, Responsibility and Punishment (1894)
  • The Elements of Ethics (1895)
  • Elements of Psychology (1895) (2010 reprint ISBN 1-167-06373-2)
  • Logic and Argument (1899) (2010 reprint ISBN 1-147-54700-9)
  • Democracy: A Study of Government (1988) (2010 reprint ISBN 1-178-16951-0)
  • Syllabus of Psychology (1989) (2005 reprint ISBN 1-4179-6252-6)
  • The Wants of Psychical Research (1900)
  • A Further Record of Observations of Certain Trance Phenomena (1901)
  • The Ethics of the Greek Philosophers: Socrates, Plato and Aristotle (1903) (2010 reprint ISBN 1-176-46651-8)
  • Problems of Philosophy: Or, Principles of Epistemology and Metaphysics (1905)
  • Science and A Future Life (1905) (2005 reprint ISBN 1-4179-7235-1)
  • The Mental State of The Dead: A Limitation to Psychical Research (1905)
  • Enigmas of Psychical Research (1906) (2010 reprint ISBN 1-142-68324-9)
  • Borderland of Psychical Research (1906) (2005 reprint ISBN 1-4179-7497-4)
  • Psychical Research and the Resurrection (1908) (2005 reprint ISBN 1-4179-7498-2)
  • A Record and Discussion of Mediumistic Experiments (1910)
  • President G. Stanley Hall's and Dr. Amy E. Tanner's Studies in Spiritism (1911)
  • Psychical Research and Survival (1913) (2006 reprint ISBN 1-4286-1248-3)
  • The Thompson Case (1913)
  • The Doris Case of Multiple Personality (1915–1917) (with Walter Franklin Prince)
  • The Smead Case (1918)
  • Poems, Original and Translations (1915) (2010 reprint ISBN 1-141-53838-5)
  • Life After Death: Problems of the Future Life and Its Nature (1918) (2006 reprint ISBN 1-4254-8371-2)
  • Contact with the Other World: The Latest Evidence as to Communication with the Dead (1919) (2010 reprint ISBN 1-161-39587-3)


Hyslop in his book Life After Death. Problems of the Future Life and Its Nature argued for survival after bodily death. A review in The Monist wrote that he seemed too readily accepting of a spirit's personal identity from the alleged spirit possession case of Doris Fischer and "his attitude throughout is uncompromising."[25] Joseph McCabe has written "Professor Hyslop, who in 1915 wrote me most critical letters about Spiritualism in general and the credulity of Sir Oliver Lodge in particular, became in his later years an enthusiastic Spiritualist and much less critical writer."[26]

In the preface to Gertrude Ogden’s book James H. Hyslop - X His Book: A Cross Reference Record, Weston D. Bayley wrote "Professor Hyslop, had, with wonderful persistence, patience and precision, placed on record a vast amount of experimental material, fully accredited and exactly sustained in accordance with the standards of evidence. His data, together with his detailed commentaries and observations, are a matter of public record. What he thus accomplished is his greatest monument; and no marble shaft could be more imperishable."[17]

According to Arthur Berger, Hyslop's writings were "criticized not only for their inadequacies but for his convoluted style." Psychical researchers such as William James, Richard Hodgson and Oliver Lodge had all complained that Hyslop could not express himself in clear and simple English and some of his psychical reports were ill written.[7] There was also hostility towards Hyslop from other psychical researchers. The historian Robert Laurence Moore has written that "In large measure Hyslop had only himself to blame. He found it almost impossible to cooperate with people who could not be made to share his point of view."[24]

Martin Gardner described Hyslop as "gullible and ignorant of magic". According to Gardner, Piper's control failed to guess correctly what Hyslop's uncle died from and took twenty séance sittings to guess his uncle's name. Gardner also wrote that "Hyslop had been introduced to Mrs. Piper by Hodgson, who could have provided the medium with all sorts of facts about him."[23]

Ivor Lloyd Tuckett criticized Hyslop's interpretation of Piper's mediumship and gave the example of a mistake her control had made which was alleged to be the spirit of Hyslop's father. The control when asked if he had remembered a "Samuel Cooper" responded that he was old friend in the West, and that they used to discuss philosophy on long walks together, but the statement was proven to be false. Tuckett came to the conclusion that Piper's controls were fictitious creations and her mediumship could best be explained without recourse to the paranormal.[22]

In his book Science and a Future Life, Hyslop wrote of his séance sittings with the medium Leonora Piper and suggested they could only be explained by spirits or telepathy. Hyslop favored the spiritualist hypothesis.[20] However, Frank Podmore wrote that Hyslop's séance sittings with Piper "do not obviously call for any supernormal explanation" and "I cannot point to a single instance in which a precise and unambiguous piece of information has been furnished of a kind which could not have proceeded from the medium's own mind, working upon the materials provided and the hints let drop by the sitter."[21]

The psychologist Joseph Jastrow criticized Hyslop's book Enigmas of Psychical Research as he was not "in any scientific sense investigating the residual phenomena of psychology" but searching for "another world" beyond the realm of science.[19]

The philosopher Josiah Royce in a review for Hyslop's The Elements of Ethics wrote "[His] conscientious and detailed analysis do honor to his fairness, and make his work an extremely thoughtful one; but in matters that concern speculative skill of a constructive type this book is often, to the present reader's mind, distinctly unsatisfactory."[18]


For some time after his death his research assistant and longtime secretary, Gertrude O. Tubby, received what she believed were communications from Hyslop through many mediums in the United States, France and Britain. These messages, frequently containing apparent cross references to one another, were published in her collection entitled James H. Hyslop - X His Book: A Cross Reference Record (1929).[2][17]

Hyslop died of thrombosis on June 17, 1920 at age 65, after a long illness.[3]

[2].William James Hyslop was a friend of psychologist [16] and Mary Winifred Hyslop.[15] They had one son, [5] In 1891 he married Mary Fry Hall (1860–1900), an American woman who he had met while in Germany. A year after her death he suffered a nervous breakdown.

Hyslop's twin sister died at birth and an older sister died a few years later; a younger brother and a sister both died of scarlet fever when Hyslop was ten.[14] His parents were devout Presbyterians. As a youth he intended to enter the ministry as his parents expected, but while in college he went through a crisis of faith and became a materialist.[5]

Personal life and family

Although a believer in mental mediumship, Hyslop is said to have found the physical phenomena of spiritualism "repulsive".[12] In a review for the Journal of American Society for Psychical Research in 1917, Hyslop wrote that various occurrences of levitation could have been faked by trickery. Hyslop also reviewed the psychical researcher W. J. Crawford's experiments with the medium Kathleen Goligher and came to the conclusion that fraud was likely to explain the physical phenomena in séance room.[13]

In 1916, Hyslop wrote the whole case for Pearl Curran's mediumship was based on fraud. Hyslop in the Journal for the American Society for Psychical Research claimed Curran had known people from the Ozarks who spoke a dialect reminiscent of Patience Worth and Curran's husband had studied Chaucer and educated her on the subject.[11] According to Hyslop the case of Patience Worth was "a fraud and delusion for any person who wishes to treat it seriously." Hyslop also accused Casper Yost and the publisher of his book Henry Holt of knowing about the fraud but covering it up to increase sale's of the book. In the Mirror articles appeared by Emily Hutchings and Yost defending Curran against allegations of fraud. In response, Hyslop wrote a letter to the Mirror which claimed he had been told of Curran's knowledge of Chaucer by a "scientific man" who had heard it from Mr Curran himself.[11] In 1938 the ASPR journal published an anonymous article which refuted all of Hyslop's accusations. According to the article the Ozark dialect did not resemble the language of Patience Worth and knowledge of Chaucer would not have given Curran the vocabulary to compose the Patience Worth literature.[11]

In 1913, Edwin William Friend was employed by Hyslop as his assistant and with help of U-boat. Three days after the loss of the ship, Hyslop held séance sittings with the medium Mrs. Chenoweth in an attempt to contact Friend.[9][10]

Beginning in 1907, he worked with different mediums to investigate spirit possession and obsession.[5] He made a deep study of multiple personalities and of obsession, and came to the conclusion that in many cases it could be attributed to spirit possession.[1] Hyslop investigated the alleged spirit possession case of Doris Fischer. After investigation, Hyslop began to believe that the personalities of Fischer were discarnate spirits. Hyslop claimed that a spirit known as Count "Cagliostro" was the leader of the possessing spirits and performed an exorcism. Hyslop quit the case hoping Fischer had been cured, however, she died in a mental hospital years later.[6]

"I regard the existence of discarnate spirits as scientifically proved and I no longer refer to the skeptic as having any right to speak on the subject. Any man who does not accept the existence of discarnate spirits and the proof of it is either ignorant or a moral coward. I give him short shrift, and do not propose any longer to argue with him on the supposition that he knows anything about the subject."
—James H. Hyslop, Life After Death (1918)

Hyslop's first book on psychical research, Science and a Future Life, was published in 1905, and many more followed,[5] including Enigmas of Psychic Research (1906), Borderland of Psychical Research (1906), Psychical Research and the Resurrection (1908), Psychical Research and Survival (1913), Life After Death (1918), and Contact with the Other World (1919). He wrote for the Journal and Proceedings of the ASPR and the SPR and for such publications as Mind, The Philosophical Review, and The Nation.[1] He became convinced in the existence of afterlife.[1]

[1] to assist in the work.Walter Franklin Prince in January 1907. He recruited both Hereward Carrington and Journal He assumed Hodgson's role as chief investigator of Leonora Piper's mediumship. He issued the first [2]

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