The Fox Sisters
Originating from the belief that the dead can communicate with the living, Spiritualism swept the United States during the 19th and early 20th century. It became a religion by some definitions, but was rooted in certain occult-related phenomena (like mediumship, psychic abilities, and possession). The Fox sisters became key figures in the movement’s popularity, famous for their so-called ability to communicate with spirits through a series of “rappings.” They conducted public séances in New York and attracted quite a following — at least until they confessed the “rappings” were a hoax and actually the sounds of finger and toe joints cracking. The sisters eventually rejected all associations with Spiritualism, but the Fox family played a large role in the formation of the Spiritualist church existing today. Some view Spiritualism as a precursor of the New Age movement and influential to the serious study of parapsychology.