The practice of Spiritualism primarily involved the communication with spirits or ghostly associations who have “gone over,” or died in the flesh. Claiming to be in contact with the beyond, the Fox sisters from New York are credited with starting the movement as early as 1848. Both Lincoln and Omaha City Directories indicated spiritualist churches were in operation at the turn of the twentieth century.
In 1877 Thomas A. Edison invented a machine that could record and reproduce the human voice using a tinfoil-covered cylinder. Edison’s phonograph, his trade name for his device, was followed in 1886 by Alexander Graham Bell’s graphophone that used wax cylinders. The possible use of such devices as business machines, and the effect this might have on stenographers, was widely debated during the latter 1880s and 1890s.
The month of October can sometimes inspire images specific to the Halloween season. In December we think about Christmas, with brightly decorated trees and wrapped gifts full of surprise. In July we think red, white and blue thoughts as we celebrate the birth of our nation. But in October our imaginings seem to turn in a darker direction. Images of ghouls, ghosts and dealings with the undead fill that space occupied by dark autumn nights.