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Allison, Lydia W(interhalter) (1880-1959)

Allison, Lydia W(interhalter) (1880-1959)

Founding member of the Boston Society for Psychic Research in 1925, trustee of the American Society for Psychical Research (ASPR) (1941-59), chairman of committee on publication (1943-59), and a member of the Society for Psychical Research, London, and the International Committee for the Study of Parapsychological Methods.

Allison was born September 14, 1880, in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. She married Edward Wood Allison in 1905. Dealing with his death led her to psychic research in 1920. During the early 1920s she visited the famous medium Mrs. Osborne Leonard. Her report on these sittings established her place in the history of psychic research. In 1925, a controversy within the ASPR over the organization's vehement defense of the medium Mina S. Crandon ("Margery") led to a schism. Allison, along with Episcopal minister and researcher Elwood Worcester, established the Boston Society for Psychic Research. Allison was in charge of the new society's publications. She also assisted in the negotiations that led to the eventual healing of the schism in 1941. She worked with the ASPR's publications committee for the rest of her life.

While her sittings with Leonard are most remembered, along the way Allison also sat with Minne M. Soule, and investigated the mediumship of "Margery," Rudi Schneider, and Eileen J. Garrett. In 1953 she attended the First International Conference of Parapsychological Studies in Utrecht, Holland.

Her careful objective investigations elicited the following tribute from parapsychologist Gardner Murphy: "Her combination of unfailing enthusiasm for the highest quality research and solid skepticism regarding unsound methods made her a precious collaborator."


Allison, Lydia W. "The American Society for Psychical Research: a Brief History." SPR Proceedings vol. 52, no. 1 (1958).

. Leonard and Soule Experiments in Psychical Research. Boston, 1929.

. "Proxy Sittings with Mrs. Leonard." SPR Proceedings vol. 42 (1934).

. "Telepathy or Association." SPR Proceedings vol. 35 (1941).

"Obituary and Tributes to Mrs. E. W. Allison." Journal of the ASPR vol. 53 (1959): 81.

Pleasants, Helene, ed. Biographical Dictionary of Parapsychology. New York: Helix Press, 1964.

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