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?

Why Americans Turned to the Supernatural for Entertainment (con.)

In this new environment, Americans turned to the supernatural world to help them fight ennui. Séances, ghost hunting, spirit photography, ghost stories, and other, similar fare offered an escape from reality. People who grew tired of a world that conformed to the predictable rules of science could watch in awe as a ghost appeared out of a medium’s closet and seemed to defy reality by hovering in the air. Blue collar workers, if they had the extra money, and middle-class managers and clerks wearied by tedious days spent at the factory or office performing repetitive tasks could find enjoyment in the tale of a ghost who subverted the normalizing tendencies of everyday life. The middle-class and wealthy could visit or purchase haunted houses in the hopes of coming face to face with a spirit. Americans sometimes even took delight in exposing con artists who claimed to speak for the dead.









Last update 

September 8, 2004










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