A Long History

Rise of Spiritualism

Industrial Revolution

Industrialism and Ghosts

Post-bellum America

Supernatural and Hope

Supernatural Restores Faith

Ghosts Build Communities

Comfort to Bereaved

Why the Supernatural was Entertaining

Transcending the Real

Ghosts and Mystery

Ghosts and Thrills

Entertainers Cash In

Laughing at Ghosts 

Anthony Hopper






















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Why Were Americans Interested in the Supernatural?

The Supernatural as a Means for Restoring Lost Faith (con.)

An illustration from the frontispiece of William Douglas O’Connor,'The Ghost' (New York: G.P. Putnam, 1867) Ghost stories from the period infused the spiritual world with a set of moral values which contradicted those of materialist ideologies like Social Darwinism. William Douglas’ 1867 novel revolved around the attempts by an apparition to convince his still living friend, a wealthy doctor and landlord, to open a heart hardened by years of selfish unconcern for the plight of those in need (8). The spirit is finally able to get the man to renounce his belief that, “[e]very man for himself, is a good general rule” (9). Writers sometimes even imbued dogs and other animals both with immortality and with a desire to perform selfless deeds. In one such story, a collie came back as a ghost in order to help save the life of her owner who had fallen gravely ill (10).









Last update 

September 8, 2004










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apparition, gothic, post-bellum, phantom, paranormal, 1800s, 1900s, Anthony Hopper, literature, growth,
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