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THE BIOGRAPHICAL DICTIONARY OF PARAPSYCHOLOGY

ELEANOR MILDRED BALFOUR SIDGWICK

(Mrs. Henry Sidgwick), editor, Proceedings and Journal, Society for Psychical Research, London, 1888-97; president, SPR, 1908-1909, joint honorary president wit Sir Oliver Lodge (q.v.), 1932. B. March 11, 1845, Wittingehame, East Lothian, Scotland; d. February 10, 1936, Fisher's Hill, Woking, Surrey, England. Educ. priv. M. 1876, Henry Sidgwick (d. 1900). Principal Newnham College, Cambridge, 1892-1910; bursar, 1880-1919.

Although she did not join the SPR until 1884, Mrs. Sidgwick was actively interested in psychical research for many years previously, having investigated a large number of mediums with her husbank, Henry Sidgwick, her brother A. J. Balfour, and Lord Rayleigh (qq.v.). She assisted in the preparatioin of many SPR reports, including Phantasms of the Living, a survey undertaken by F.W.H. Myers (q.v.), and the SPR's Census of Hallucinations (1889-94).

Mrs. Sidgwick also took a leading part in tests with the American trance medium Mrs. Leonore Piper (q.v.) in 1899 and 1906-7, and was the principal experimenter in a series of tests in thought-transference made at Brighto from 1889 to 1891. These experiments, in which Henry Sidgwick, Alice Johnson and Sir William Barrett (qq.v.) also took part, were made with a hypnotized percipient, and the results appeared to be highly significant. Many years later, the percipient, named Blackburn, "confessed," alleging that he and the hynotist concerned had cheated, a charge which was denied by the hypnotist, G. A. Smith (q.v.).

In 1921 Mrs. Sidgwick published a report of the "book tests" made in a series of sittings with the British medium Mrs. Osborne Leonard (q.v.). In these tests, designed to exlude the possibility of telepathy better sitter and medium, the supposed "communicator," or personality speakiing through the medium, refers to a book in a certain place in, for example, the home of the sitter, indicating a page on which a pertinent message will be found.

Mrs. Sidgwick was author of the entry on spiritualism in the ninth edition of the Encyclopaedia Britannica (1875-89). Her articles published in the SPR Proceedings include: "Phantasms of the Dead" (1885); "The Physical Phenomena of Spiritualism" (1886); "Premonitions" (1888); "On the Evidence for Clairvoyance" (1891); "Spirit Photography, A Reply to Mr. A. R. Wallace" (1891); "Discussion of the Trance Phenomena of Mrs. Piper" (1899); "Presidential Address" (1908); "An Examination of Book-Tests Obtained in Sittings with Mrs. Osborne Leonard" (1921); "Phantasms of the Living" (1923); "Hinderance and Complications in Telepathic Communication" (1923); "Report on Futher Experiments in Thought-Transference Carried out by Professor Gilbert Murray" (1924); "History of the SPR" (1932-33).


Taken from Helene Pleasants (1964) Biographical Dictionary of Parapsychology with Directory and Glossary 1946-1996 NY: Garrett Publications


 
 

 

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