Peebles, J(ames) M(artin) (1822-1922)

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Peebles, J(ames) M(artin) (1822-1922)

Prominent American Spiritualist, author, and lecturer. He was born on March 23, 1822, in a log cabin in Whittingham, Vermont. He studied at Oxford Academy, New York, graduating with a Ph.D. and LL.D.; he subsequently practiced as a physician. He was also ordained as a minister and preached in parishes in Kellogsville, Elmira, New York and Baltimore.

After preaching a sermon in Kellogsville, he was invited by one of his parishioners to attend a séance in Auburn, New York, where he first heard spirit rapping. Soon afterwards he heard a trance lecture delivered by an uneducated boy; the subject was chosen by Peebles: "The Philosophical Influence of the Nations of Antiquity Upon the Civilization and Sciences of Modern Europe and America." As Dr. Peebles described the event: "The boy at once stepped forward and commenced, and for one hour and three-quarters one continual stream of history and philosophy fell from his lips." When Peebles preached on "The Spiritual Gifts" in his own church, the deacons and congregation protested; Peebles resigned in disgust to follow a secular career and continue his investigation of Spiritualism. He wrote and lectured for more than eighty years, mainly in the cause of Spiritualism. He was also one of the earliest temperance workers and joined the abolition movement together with John Brown and William Lloyd Garrison.

In 1866 Peebles became western editor of the Spiritualist journal Banner of Light. His brilliant editorials greatly extended circulation. He became editor-in-chief of The Spiritual Universe, a journal devoted to Freethought and Spiritualism, which frequently joined in common causes in the nineteenth century. He subsequently became editor-in-chief of The American Spiritualist, published in Cleveland. In addition to his editorial and other newspaper contributions, he also published many books and pamphlets on Spiritualism.

Peebles was an advocate of Spiritualism, and traveled around the world five times in its behalf. He died February 15, 1922, in Los Angeles, California.


Barrett, J. O. The Spiritual Pilgrim: A Biography of James M. Peebles. Boston: William White, 1872.

Peebles, James M. Around the World: or, Travels in Polynesia, China, India, Arabia, Egypt, Syria. Boston: Colby & Rich, 1875.

. Celebration of the Fiftieth Anniversary of Modern Spiritualism at Its Birthplace. Battle Creek, Mich.: The Author, 1898.

. The Demonism of the Ages, Spirit Obsessions So Common in Spiritism, Oriental and Occidental Occultism. Battle Creek, Mich.: Peebles Medical Institute, 1904.

. Five Journeys around the World: or, Travels in the Pacific Islands, New Zealand, Australia, Ceylon, India, Egypt and Other Oriental Countries. Los Angeles: Peebles Publishing, 1910.

. Seers of the Ages. 1869. Reprint, Chicago: Progressive Thinker, 1905.

Peebles, James M., Helen Densmore, and W. J. Colville. Reincarnation; or the Doctrine of "Soul's" Successive Embodiment. Battle Creek, Mich.: Peebles Medical Institute, 1904.

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Peebles, J(ames) M(artin) (1822-1922)

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