Spiritualism in Nineteenth-Century New Orleans, 6-7



Windows of the Soul


p. 95 the planchette

"The planchette, a precursor of the Ouija board, consisted of

{This is a many-centuries-antique Chinese tool for obtaining written messages from the divine world. Europeans have copied it from Chinese sources, perhaps without sufficient acknowledgement.}

a heart-shaped piece of wood,

{repraesentative of, e.g., the Sacred Heart of Padma-sambhava}

which was ... to move in response to spiritual forces as one or more people placed their fingers on it.

When used in combination with a copy of the alphabet, the tip of the heart would point to letters to spell out communications.

{Because (according to the Qabbalah) each consonant is governed by a particular mal>ak (angel), this would be a mode of obtaining angelic messages.}

Sometimes, a pencil was inserted in a precut hole, and the spirits would use the pencil to write messages on paper placed underneath the planchette."

{In the most usual Chinese practice of this, the stylus for writing is regarded as the beak of a divine phoinix-bird, and the writing may be inscribed on moist sand.}

p. 96 Spiritualist-newspaper-sponsored se'ances in Boston

"The Banner of Light offered thrice-weekly se'ances in its offices on Washington Street for relatives and friends to communicate with their deceased loved ones. The departed were able to communicate through the mediumship of Jennie "Fanny" Conant.

The Boston periodical printed the communications in a popular weekly column, The Messenger, beginning with the journal's premier issue on April 11, 1857."

p. 98 newspaper-sponsored Spiritualist se'ances in New Orleans

"Some ... se'ances took place in the uptown area of New Orleans at George W. Kendall's home on Carondelet Street. ... Kendall, an attorney and son of the founder of the Daily Picayune, reported that spirits of both sexes had visited ... . The method of communication was slate writing, often used in northern se'ances. ... in a darkened room under the table, the spirit wrote a simple message on the slate."

NEW ORLEANS TIMES, July 5, 1874.

p. 98 se'ances wherein the spirits are instrument-playing musicians

"Other se'ances featured musical instruments laid on the floor for the spirits to ... play ... . The instruments included tambourines, trumpets, bells, harmonicas, and guitars. As the spirits appeared, a cold chill rushed into the room, and "trumpets were frequently caught in the air far above the head of the tallest man.""

NEW ORLEANS TIMES, July 5, 1874.

p. 98 se'ances wherein the spirits are furniture-movers

"phosphoric lights appeared, and the spirits entered the parlour ... making their presence known with ... rappings. ... the chairs and table began to shake. Suddenly, the table lifted itself and darted rapidly across the room ... . An armoire waltzed around the room and chairs were uplifted as the participants watched". ("TLS")

"TLS" = "Ticket of Leave Spirits : Remarkable Demonstrations". DAILY PICAYUNE, July 12, 1874.

p. 99 se'ance with spirit playing musical instruments; se'ance with spirit writing

"A reporter described ["STR"] the silent pitch black darkness of the se'ance as ghostly white, glimmering gossamer clouds glided into the newly chilled room in ill-defined outlines. Three raps on the cabinet signaled the willingness of the spirits to communicate, and then music was heard from instruments that had been placed on the floor ... .

A second se'ance invoilved slate board writing ... . A spirit materialized and wrote short sentences on the board with "the flourish of a skilled penman.""

"STR" = "Spiritualism : a Times Reporter Enters the Field as an Invetigator". NEW ORLEANS TIMES, Feb 22, 1875.

p. 99 Minerva Hall

"Minerva Hall on Clio Street between Prytania Street and St. Chrles Avenue became the premier location for lectures and social gatherings of the Spiritualists. ... Some lecturers ... had traveled to New Orleans from the North to spend several months lodged as a downtown hotel, They lectured at Minerva Hall, usually on Sundays."

DAILY PICAYUNE, Dec 17, 1871.

pp. 99-100 Spiritual Pilgrim (Barrett 1872, p. 301; Jacobs & Kaslow 1991, pp. 35-6)

p. 99

"the Reverend James M. Peebles, ... Known as the Spiritual Pilgrim, ... was a world travelers based in Baltimore. In 1871 and 1876, Rev. Peebles spent two pleasant winters in ... New Orleans, lecturing on Spiritualism. Peeble's most consulted and revered spirit messenger was Black Hawk, the famed warrior of the Sauks, who in the spiritual world had ... converted to the ways of peace. [Barrett 1872, p. 301]

Black Hawk later became a favorite spirit guide for the ministers of the eclectic twentieth-century Spiritual churches ... . [Jacobs & Kaslow 1991, pp. 35-36]

p. 100

James Peebles ... reported his successes in The American Spiritualist, ... mentioning the Reverend J. W. Allen as being the president of the Spiritualist society.

Rev. Allen also delivered lectures at Minerva Hall ... . ... As the Reverend Allen went into a trance, a spirit from within his body answered ..., informing the audience ... ."

Barrett 1872 = Joseph A. Barrett : The Spiritual Pilgrim : a Biography of James M. Peebles. Boston : William White.

Jacobs & Kaslow 1991 = Claude F. Jacobs & Andrew J. Kaslow : Spiritual Churches of New Orleans : Origins, Beliefs and Rituals of an Afro-American Religion. Knoxville : Univ of TN Pr.



Le Cercle Harmonique


pp. 102-4 heavenly concerns

p. 102

"Historian Robert Cox characterized the spiritual communications received by the Rey circle as "more and more removed from dily life, and more and more restricted to heavenly, rather than earthly, concerns and compensations." ... Safely ensconced in their homes Rey's se'ance circles drew closer and more insulated". (Cox 2003, p. 185)

p. 103

"Spirits frequently returned from the Great Beyond to give their living friends and relatives words of encouragement. ... The sympathetic spirit friends' role was to help ... by encouraging ... and advising them to stay focused on the prize {viz., a heavenly mansion} as they traveled on the perilous route. ... Montesquieu, a French philosopher, defined a Spiritualist as a "philosopher ..., but his thoughts open Heaven's Gates, and he shows ...

the luminescent Ladder that leads there." ... .

{As dreamt by Ya<qob at Beyt->el, the sullam ('ladder') being climbed by mal>akiym ('angeloi').}

p. 104

... the ladder is the spiritual ascension to heaven ... and the celestial world ... ."

Cox 2003 = Robert S. Cox : Body and Soul. Charlottesville : Univ of VA.

p. 104 halcyon existence

Henry (Henri) Broyard, who on February 28, 1875, belatedly appeared at the se'ance table three years after his death, explaining his absence ... . The hereafter was represented as a halcyon existence."

[p. 177, n. 12 "Henry Broyard, who was white but passed for black in order to marry a black Creole woman in New Orleans." (Broyard 2007, p. xiv)]

Broyard 2007 = Bliss Broyard : One Drop : My Father's Hidden Life -- A Story of Race and Family Secrets. NY : Little, Brown.

p. 105 usual venue for se'ances in 1870s

"By the early 1870s, the se'ance venues had shifted from Valmour's home/blacksmith shop to Henry Rey's home and ... the corner of Esplanade Avenue and

St. Claude Street (now Henriette Delille Street) in Faubourg Treme'."

[p. 178 "In 1798, real estate tycoon Claude Treme' laid out rue St. Claude ... . He named it after his patron saint, St. Claude, and the original name for Esplanade Avenue was rue Ste. Julie in honor of his wife."]

p. 106 Bureau of the Treasury as storage-site

"The Louisiana Bureau of the Treasury was another ... . The se'ance registers were stored in the office of Franc,ois Dubuclet, who assisted this father, Antoine Dubuclet, the state treasurer. ...

The French Quarter building on Royal Street ... had originally been constructed for the Louisiana State Bank in 1820 ... ." (Curtis 1933, p. 87)

Curtis 1933 = Nathaniel Cortlandt Curtis : New Orleans : Its Old Houses, Shops and Public buildings. Philadelphia : J. B. Lippincott.

pp. 106-7 protocol for conductance of se'ance

p. 106

"se'ances began promptly at either seven o'clock or eight o'clock in the evening, depending on the season. As with the Davis liturgy, the se'ance room had to be darkened ... so spirits would be more receptive to conversing with the living.

At the appointed hour of the season, the doors were closed, and the previous se'anace's communications were read. After the readings, latecomers

p. 107

were admitted, and the doors once again were closed. ... . ... after the communications from the previous se'ance were read, a butterfly{-effigy} extinguished the gas lamp. Despite the darkness, the medium quickly wrote ... ."

p. 107 the se'ance's medium as apostle; spirits as vigilant friends

"In many spiritual communications, the medium was referred to as "the apostle giving the evangelic and angelic world." The medium acted as conduit between the earthly world and the spiritual world, posing questions collected from the circle and then relaying the responses. ... Rey admonished his circle to "never call any {specific} Spirit, for often he cannot come and another then, could take his name. ... Have great respect for Spirits ... ."

Spirits who called themselves vigilant friends advised the se'ance participants to stay focused on matters that would ultimately lead to l'ame'lioration spirituelle, spiritual improvement."

pp. 107-8 nature of se'ance's medium (according to Swedenburg; according to Moni; and according to Desbrosses)

p. 107

"In an 1872 communication, the Swedish seer Swedenborg {as a spirit} played homage to the medium's role ... as "the architect who gives plans. ... The medium ... transmits to Humanities the results ... from the Spiritual Science. ... He prepares the route ... leading to the Temple of Truth and Happiness."

Father Moni {as a spirit} observed that the good medium abandons his body to the spirits and becomes "a machine that makes us [spirits] appear ... ." ...

Nelson Desbrosses praised the medium in his 1870 communication explaining that "the medium ..., like the Phoenix,

{Employment of this specificly Chinese characterization of spirit-mediumship is indication of its Chinese provenience. "The minimum requirements for the holding of a séance usually are the presence of a medium (the “principal phoenix disciple” [zhengluansheng] who “supports the planchette” [fuji, fuluan], a reader who reads and calls out the characters traced by the planchette on a sand-covered surface, and a scribe who records the revealed text on paper." (MMS-W)}

p. 108

is reborn ... . The medium is the avant-guarde, the advanced sentinel ...; he is the light illuminating the route ... .""

MMS-W = Philip Clart : "Moral MediumsSpirit-Writing and the Cultural Construction of Chinese Spirit Mediumship". ETHNOLOGIES 25 (2003).1:153–89.

pp. 108-9 regular attendees, and their guests, at se'ance

p. 108

"those in attendance were generally men from the black Creole elite and to a lesser extent black Creole women. ... Adolphe Duhart and George Herriman Jr were mentioned as guest paticipants. Duhart, like Henry Rey, was of Saint-Domingue descent. ... . ... Duhart taught at the Couvent School and acted as principal upon the death of Joanni Questy in 1869. ... Some of Henry Rey's se'ances in the late 1850s took place at the Duhart home. George Herriman Jr was a neighbor ... . ...

Franc,ois "Petit" Dubuclet explained the composition of Rey's circles as being two circles with different regular members that met on two different days of the week. Interestingly, Rey's regular se'ance participants were all males, the opposite of northern circles, which [Clark 1863, p. 72] advocated an equal number of men and women around the se'ance table ... . Even Joseph Barthet's French/Anglo-American circle of the mid-1850s included an equal number of women. ...

p. 109

The regular members numbered seven".

Clark 1863 = Uriah Clark : Plain Guide to Spiritualism : a Handbook. Boston : William White.

pp. 109-10 spirit-messengers to se'ances

p. 109

"Fremch Romantic writers, philosophers from the Enlightenment, deceased Creole ... mediums. ... plus a few Native American spirit guides ..., descended from the spiritual world to the se'ance table. ... Men dominated the Creole spirit world ... .

p. 110

... Only a few were women ... ."

p. 110 female medium

"Soeur Louise was the only female black Creole Medium Rey mentioned in his se'ance rcgisters when in 1859 Rey participated in his neighbors' se'ances ... . Franc,ois Dubuclet admiringly characterized Soeur Louise ... ."

{"These “immortal maidens” [xiangu] engage in a long process of ascetic and meditational practice, during which they redefine their self by incorporating and appropriating a deity." (MMS-W)}

p. 111 chorus of female spirits

"Sometimes the female spirits, unlike their male counterparts, would act as if in a chorus; one spirit would communicate a short sentence, and then another would pick up the theme and issue a brief communication only to be quickly joined by more female spirits. ...

{B:FU, p. 94 "The messages were broken into fragments, one part appearing in the automatic script of one medium, another part in another script ... . These bits of messages were not ... comprehensible ... in themselves ... . Only when all were woven together ... did they seem to be evidence of a surviving mind behind them."}

{B:FU, p. 95 "the message, "That I have to use different scribes means that I must show different aspects of thought, underlying which unity is to be found," appeared in ... script."}

Often five or more spirits are listed as spirit messengers at the end of a communication ... ."

B:FU = Arthur S. Berger & Joyce Berger : Fear of the Unknown : Enlightened Aid-in-Dying. Praeger Publ (an imprint of Greenwood Publ Group), Westport (CT), 1995.

{Whereas, in the French-language case, several female spirits communicate consecutively through a single medium; yet in contrast, in the English-language case a single male spirit is communicating consecutively through several distinct media : (B:FU, p. 94) "through mediums in different places in India, Britain, and the United States." This sort of (B:FU, p. 95) "case has been called "one of the most cogent and satisfying" (Murphy 1945:19) of the cross-correspondences that, as a class, have been described as "the ones that provide the strongest evidence" (Ducasse 1961:186) of post-mortem survival."}

Murphy 1945 = G. Murphy : Three Papers on the Survival Problem. NY : Amer Soc for Psychical Research.

Ducasse 1961 = C. J. Ducasse : A Critical Examination of the Belief in a Life After Death. Springfield (IL) : Charles C. Thomas.

p. 112 Harmonial philosophy in se'ance-circles

"A. J. Davis's Harmonial philosophy provided the atmosphere and set the precise protocol for Henry Rey's se'ance circles. ... Rey admonished his circle to conform to strict codes of punctuality, procedures, and appropriate se'ance behavior. The harmony within the circle was necessary to duplicate the harmony of the cosmos and to facilitate communing with the dead."

p. 113 transition of litterature in New Orleans, from being entirely in French to being bilingual

"the 1830s ..., that decade marked the linguistic turning point for New Orleans as a huge influx of Irish and German immigrants overwhelmed the Gallic population. ...

L'Union began in 1862 as a French-language newspaper published for free people of color. It successor, the Tribune/La Tribune, began in 1864 and was bilingual. ...

The Catholic Church continued to conduct services in French, even though the congregations were mostly English-speaking. Despite opposition ..., francophone priests considered New Orleans to be "une annexe" of France and refused to speak anything but French to their English-speaking congregations. This coalition of French clergy would remain firmly entrenched in the New Orleans church hierarchy until after World War I." (Pitman 2008, p. 426)

Pitman 2008 = Bambra Pitman : "Culture, Caste, and Conflict in New Orleans Catholicism". LOUISIANA HISTORY 49:423-62.

p. 114 spirit-medium's dual ro^le

"The medium had a dual role : first, to convey messages from the departed, and second, to be a poet guiding ... with visionary powers to ... celestial happiness in the spiritual world."





p. 123 the 2nd-generation Saint-Dominigue immigrants

"the second generation of the Saint-Dominigue immigration ... tenaciously clung to its French Caribbean roots by the interaction of ... benevolent associations, Masonic connections, the Couvent School, ... the Native Guards, and the French language."

p. 131 relieved in spirit-world

"The departed who suffered grievously on earth were relieved of their earthly pains and assured their living relatives and friends of improved conditions in the spiritual world."

pp. 132-4 the Economy Society

p. 132

"The membership in the Economy Society had grown from 15 black Creoles in 1836 to over 160 members in the 1870s who met for regular bimonthly meetings. In the early days, the members lived in the creole Faubourgs Treme'

p. 133

and Marigny. Now, the area of the members' households had widened ..., including Algiers, across the Mississippi River ... . ...

p. 134

Social activities such as dances and Carnival balls had been the mainstays of Economy Hall since at least the early 1840s and continued throughout the nineteenth century. ...

The association was also known as one that helped during times of natural disaster -- especially the seasonal flooding ... . ...

Another important function of mutual aid societies was to assist with their members' medical bills, and the final obligation of the Economy Society was to attend a departed member's wake and funeral. ... A special committee called the Vigilance Committee watched over the body religiously and did not leave it alone for even one moment. The brothers who accompanied the deceased to the cemetery wore a sprig of cypress for a boutonniere ... . After the religious ceremony, the president of the Economy Society performed a solemn Cypress Ceremony, and the fraternal brothers would disperse in silence. The president of the Economy Society at this time was Myrthil J. Piron, an undertaker who had a funeral parlor on North Rampart Street in the Faubourg Marigny."

p. 135 promises from the spirit-world for protection of the living

"The communications are filled with assurances that members of the circle were not alone in life. "Remember that we will be with you to protect you and

to give you the force,"

{"May the force be with you!" (salutation in Star Wars)

Oscar Dunn, a frequent spirit messenger, assured Rey on November 22, the anniversary of his death>"

pp. 135-6 compromise for the founding of Southern University

p. 135

"former governor P. B. S. Pinchback ... brokered a

p. 136

deal to accept the ... Constitution of 1879 in exchange for the founding of an all-black university, Southern University."



Spiritual Rubicon


p. 139 cemetery

"St. Louis Cemetery No. 2, where numerous ... Creole notables were interred. Behind the faded white brick wall lay the city of the dead with angels ... and marble grave slabs to mark their tombs. It was here {hither} that the faculty and students of the Couvent School made their annual homage on All Saints' Day, November 1, to honor their revered benefactress, Madame Justine Couvent."


p. 141 Desdunes

"Rodolphe Desdunes ... authored Our People and Our History, which contained more than fifty literary portraits of black Creole notables, most with Saint-Domingue roots. Desdunes later corresponded with Rene' Grandjean in the 1920s ... ." (Medley 2003, p. 118)

Rodolphe Lucien Desdunes (transl. by Dorothea Olga McCants) : Our People and Our History. Baton Rouge : LA State Univ Pr, 1973.

Medley 2003 = Keith Weldon Medley : We as Freemen. Gretna (LA) : Pelican.

p. 144 unflagging belief

"the voluminous communications that ... members of the Cercle Harmonique meticulously copied in their spiritual registers ... over a period of almost two decades are a testament of ... unflagging belief in Spiritualism ... ."

pp. 145, 183 demise of (& interrment of cadvare of) Henry Louis Rey

p. 145

"April 19, 1894 ... Henry Louis Rey crossed the Spiritual Rubicon. He died of anthrax".

p. 183, n. 24

"Henry Louis Rey's body is interred ... in St. Louis Ceretery No. 1, near Marie Laveau's crypt. ... Rey's name does not appear on the crypt's plate."

pp. 146-8 destinations for creoles emigrating out from Louisiana

p. 146

"Chicago was a popular destination for Afro-Creoles looking for a better way of life ... . ... The Dubuclets ... migrated to the Chicago area ... . Franc,ois Dubuclet's nephew, Laurent Dubuclet, moved to Chicago from New Orleans and enjoyed a successful career as a ragtime musician, composer, and teacher. ...

p. 147

California was another popular destination for Creoles of color ... . Such was the case of George Herriman Jr., who was a participant at the Henry Rey se'ance table and a neighbor of Rey. He and his family were part of the black Creole diaspora of the 1890s and moved to Los Angeles ... .

p. 148

George Herriman [Jr. (p. 183, n. 29)]'s son, also named George, later gained fame as the Krazy Kat cartoonist ... ."





p. 150 Minerva Hall during the 1880s

"In New Orleans during the 1880s, Minerva Hall continued to be the premier venue for Spiritualist actitivies such as trance lectures, public se'ances, ... and the annual celebration on March 31 of the genesis of Spiritualism."

p. 150 Grunewald Hall

"Grunewald Hall was used for ... [DAILY PICAYUNE, March 27, 1881] "reading the contents of sealed letters, reading from a book [not visible to the reader] held by one of the audience, making tables and pianos perambulate, and playing instruments while bound hand and foot.""

p. 150 Spiritualist camp-meetings

"Spiritualism diversified and evolved in the 1890s ... . This was the period in which Spiritualists began to create effective, national-level organizations ..., and founded camp meetings -- rural communities where Spiritualists could spend their summer vacations ... contacting their spiritual friends. Some of the better known camps were located at Lily Dale, New York; Cassaga Lake, Florida; and Harmony Grove, California."

p. 151 particular Spiritualist associations/churches

"the National Spirtualists' Association in Washington ... had been founded by Cora L. V. ... Richmond in 1893. The Reverend ..., how in her fourth marriage, had moved to Chicago ... . ... The following year, she became the pastor of the Church of the Soul in Chicago."

"Church of the Soul : First Society of Spiritualists Adopts Another Name : Cora L. V. Richmond Takes Charge of the Congregation". DAILY INTERNAT OCEAN (Chicago), June 8, 1896.

pp. 151, 183-4 demises of famous Spiritualists

p. 151

"The founders of Modern American Spiritualism died within ten months of each other ... . Catherine (Kate) Fox Jencken died on July 2, 1892 ... . Eight months later, Margaret (Maggie) Fox Kane died ... on March 8, 1893, in a New York apartment loaned to her by Henry Newton, president of the First Society of Spiritualists. ...

On January 2, 1923, Cora L. V. Hatch Daniels Tappan Richmond ... died. Less than a year prior to her death, Dr. James Martin Peebles passed away at the last stop of his long spiritual pilgrimage : Los Angeles. Dr. Peebles had .. missed the century mark by just thirty-six days."

p. 183, n. 7

["CSSS"] "Peebles's wife, Mary M. Corkey, was from around Watertown, New York. According to newpaper articles from across the nation, Dr. Peebles actually attended his one hundredth birthday party. The centennial birthday celebration was held as planned, and a chair was reserved at the head of the table

p. 184, n. 7

for the spirit of Dr. Peebles. Dr. Guy Bogart read a message from him ... . San Diego Evening Tribune, March 24, 1922."

"CSSS" = "Could See Spirit Seated at Table ... ." SEATTLE DAILY TIMES, Jan 5, 1923; WATERTOWN (NY) DAILY TIMES, Feb 16, 1922.

pp. 151-2 Dubuclet family and an AmerIndian female guide/control

p. 151

"Franc,ois Dubuclet ... moved from New Orleans to Jamaica, in the Caribbean, in 1913 with his daughter Assitha and his son-in-law Rene' Grandjean. Together, the three lived in St. Andrew, Jamaica, for seven years ... . ...

p. 152

Sidney Dubuclet assured his grandfather of ... a figure of six million Spiritualists in the United States. ... Odette Dubuclet Gauthier, another grandchild, ... assured him of ... her Spiritualist church in Chicago, the Soul Circle Church. Odette described an Indian guide named Honto who talked like a little girl and gave "beautiful messages" and controlled the minister, Mrs. Williams. ...

Franc,ois Dubuclet and the Grandjeans returned to New Orleans to Jamaica in 1920. After the death of Franc,ois in 1924, the Chicago family members gathered for se'ances .. to contact their beloved relative. Across the spiritual divide, the deceased patriarch answered ... ."

pp. 152-3 Divine Fellowship

p. 152

"Spiritualist churches similar to the ones founded in Chicago appeared in other American cities ..., including New Orleans. According to the New Orleans City Guide (1938) written by the Federal Writers' Project of the Works Progress Administration (WPA), in 1938 there were three such churches in New Orleans. Oscar Lewis Clark, a ... minister from Plymouth, Massachusetts, founded the First Church of Divine Fellowship of

p. 153

Spiritualism in 1920. That church was the only one of the three Spiritualist churches affiliated with the National Spiritualists' Association, which had its headquarters in Washington, DC. After a few years ..., that church moved to its permanent location at 823 Spain Street, where it offered a variety of Spiritualist activities throughout the week, including healings on Monday, message circles ... on Tuesday, trance lectures on Friday ... . ... Rene'Grandjean and his wife attended services regularly and were very involved with the First Church of Divine Fellowship of Spiritualism and the ministry of Rev. Clark."

pp. 153-6 eclectic : "Spiritual churches" (as distinct from non-eclectic Spiritualist churches)

p. 153

"In other parts of the city, the eclectic Spiritual churches of the 1920s and 1930s were established. Spiritual churches were a syncretic blend of

p. 154

nineteenth-century Spiritualism ... and Voodoo. It was a matriarchal

religion led by women called Mothers,

{The Lukumi` religion (of Yoruba provenience) in Brazil is led by priestesses styled \Mambo\.}

who moved to New Orleans during this time. ...

One of the most famous and popular Mothers was Leafy Anderson of Chicago, who arrived there in 1921. ... While in Chicago, Mother Leafy had established a church in 1913 ... : the Eternal Life Spiritualist Church. Her religious dogma consisted of ... a twentieth-century version of spiritualism with the addition of a revered spiritual guide, Black Hawk, a tall Sauk who lived in the early nineteenth century ... . Black Hawk had also been a favorite spiritual guide of Dr. James Peebles. ...

In New Orleans, African Americans and Native Americans had historically been linked ... with shared lineage ... over the centuries ... . ...

The New Orleans City Guide details eight Spiritual churches in the 1930s. Out of the eight churches listed, women were pastors {pastrices} in five.

Catherine Seals ... ministered the Church ... on Charbonnet Street ... . She had a highly unusual and entertaining way of entering her church -- a rough red, white, and blue building resembling a

p. 155

circus tent. Mother Catherine, a large African American woman, was lowered from a hole {skylight} in the roof of a side room, intimating that she descended from Heaven ... . ...

Spiritual churches were ... a religious movement that occurred in other major American {United States} cities such as Chicago, Detroit, New York City, Houston, Baltimore, and Philadelphia. During the Great Depression, Spiritual churches were the fastest {swiftest}-growing denomination among the small and intensely religious groups that arose throughout the black population. A large number of unchurched Spiritualists kept home altars or worked as spiritual advisors. [Albanese 2007, pp. 474-5] ...

The denial of Voodoo by the Spiritual church ministers belies the reality. ... Mother Catherine and other ministers wore a long white gown with a blue cord at their waists, the exact same type of clothing that the Voodoo priestesses wore to distinguish themselves from [t]he[i]r followers. [Jacobs & Kaslow 1991, p. 86]

p. 156

The interior of a Spiritual church was decorated with countless candles, statues, banners, and pictures. Mother Catherine's altar was a motley array of religious artwork ... . ... Marie Laveau's house had [Ward 2004, pp. 113-4] a similar de'cor with numerous figurines of Catholic saints, dozens of burning candles, and amulets scattered helter-skelter near the altar."

"One of the hallmarks of the Spiritual churches was the lively and enthusiastic movement as members entered a trance or spirit-possession stage. Claude Jacobs & Andrew Kaslow describe [1991, pp. 129 & 132] this as "violent seizures, long periods of dancing, dervish-like spinning, writhing on the floor" with a ... drum and organ in the background."

Albanese 2007 = A Republic of Mind and Spirit.

Jacobs & Kaslow 1991 = Claude F. Jacobs & Andrew J. Kaslow : Spiritual Churches of New Orleans : Origins, Beliefs, and Rituals of an African-American Religion. Knoxville : Univ of TN Pr.

Ward 2004 = Martha Ward : Voodoo Queen : the Spirited Lives of Marie Laveau. Jackson : Univ Pr of MS.

p. 157 Spiritualism as of yet continuing

"Spiritualism has evolved from the nineteenth century and continues today in the twenty-first century."



pp. 186-7 archives

p. 186

National Archives and Records Administration, Washington D.C.

p. 187

Federal Writers' Collection

p. 187 online sources


Library of Congress website : https://lccn.loc.gov


Melissa Daggett : Spiritualism in Nineteenth-Century New Orleans : the Life and Times of Henry Louis Rey. Univ Pr of Mississippi, Jackon, 2017.