H. Addington Bruce – Early Psychical Researcher
By: Michelle McKay (founder of ColdSpot.org)
September 10, 2014.
I recently wrote an article titled “Harry Price – Was Harry Price The First Ghost Hunter?”. In that article, I posed the question: “did the term ‘ghost hunter’ appear anywhere before the publication of Harry’s book in 1936?“.
I was then informed by John E.L. Tenney that a fellow by the name of ‘H. Addington Bruce’ was using the term “ghost hunters” in the early 1900’s. So, I then went ahead and did a wee bit of research on H. Addington Bruce. This is what I discovered…
Henry Addington Bayley Bruce wrote a book titled “Historic Ghosts and Ghost Hunters“, which was published in 1908. This was twenty-eight years before Harry Price published his book “Confessions of a Ghost Hunter”. Therefore, Harry Price was definitely not the first person to use the term “ghost hunter”, neither was he the first ghost hunter. [As a side note, Tim Prasil later informed me that he did some digging and came across a fictional book titled, “The Ghost-Hunter and His Family”, published in 1833.]
Henry Addington Bruce was born 1874, and died 1959. He was an American journalist, author and psychologist. Although he lived in the USA, he was born in Toronto, Canada. He wrote books about American history, psychology and parapsychology.
According to the Department of Psychology at Elizabethtown College in Pennsylvania, he is also credited with contributing to the history of psychology. Whereas it is said he “foreshadowed psychology’s shift in the 1920s towards a greater emphasis on the environment and interest in the unconscious”.
Bruce said on page 216 of “Historic Ghosts and Ghost Hunters” that psychical research is “an effort to determine by strictly scientific methods the nature and significance of apparitions, hauntings, spiritistic phenomena, and those other weird occurrences that would seem to confirm the idea that the spirits of the dead can and do communicate with the living”.
BOOKS BRUCE WROTE ABOUT THE PARANORMAL:
“The Riddle of Personality” originally published 1908
“Historic Ghosts and Ghost Hunters” published 1908
“Scientific Mental Healing” published 1911 (the 2nd last chapter covers psychical research)
“Adventurings in the Psychical” published 1914
Copyright © 2014 Michelle McKay. All Rights Reserved.
2 thoughts on “H. Addington Bruce – Early Psychical Researcher”
I, too, have been trying to trace the history of the term “ghost hunter.” I’ve found it used as far back as the 1830s, when Michael Banim used it in the title of his novel The Ghost-Hunter and His Family (1833).
It’s also used a few times in Richard Harris Barham’s “The Spectre of Tappington” (1837), a fairly well-known comical ghost story. (I suspect Barham used it because Banim’s novel had been pretty successful.)
Hi Tim, thank you so much for this information. I mentioned your name with a link to your website as a thank you on the following pages: “H. Addington Bruce – Early Psychical Researcher“, “Was Harry Price The First Ghost Hunter?“, and “The History of Ghost Hunting – a timeline of the 1800s“.