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James H Hyslop: Professor & Researcher


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James H.  Hyslop was born in Xenia, Ohio in 1854 to Robert and Martha Hyslop. His twin sister died when they were only four months old. When Hyslop was ten, another sister and brother died of scarlet fever. The Hyslops were Presbyterians and James intended to enter the ministry when he w
as young, but while in college he developed doubts about religious faith.

Hyslop taught philosophy at Lake Forest University, Smith College and Bucknell in the 1880s. In 1891 he married Mary Fry Hall, an American he had met while in Germany. He took a position at Columbia University teaching ethics and logic. They had three children, two daughters and a son.

While at Columbia University, Hyslop wrote several textbooks and became involved with psychical research. After retiring due to ill health, he founded the American Institute for Scientific Research in 1904, planning to fund psychic research. He became a member of the Society for Psychical Research and later revived the organization as a section of his institute. He took on the role of chief investigator with Hereward Carrington and Walter F. Prince assisting. He published their first Journal in January 1907 and was secretary-treasurer and director of the organization until 1920.

Hyslop published several books on psychical research, including: Science and a Future Life (1905), Enigmas of Psychic Research (1906), Borderland of Psychical Research (1906), Psychical Research and Survival (1913), Life After Death (1918), and Contact with the Other World (1919).

Hyslop was convinced in the existence of an afterlife. He wrote in Life After Death, “I regard the existence of discarnate spirits as scientifically proved and I no longer refer to the skeptic as having any right to speak on the subject. Any man who does not accept the existence of discarnate spirits and the proof of it is either ignorant or a moral coward. I give him short shrift, and do not propose any longer to argue with him on the supposition that he knows anything about the subject.”

After Hyslop died in 1920, his assistant and secretary, Gertrude O. Tubby, received communications from him through several mediums in the United States and Europe. “I find it difficult to assume that I am dead,” he said through the medium, Mrs Chenoweth. The messages she received were later published in her collection: James H. Hyslop – X His Book: A Cross Reference Record (1929).

Additional Reading

Alvarado, Carlos (2014). “Visions of the Dying, by James H Hyslop” (1907). History of Psychiatry 25: 237-252.

Anderson, Roger (1885). “The Life and Work of James H. Hyslop.” The Journal of the American Society for Psychical Research 79: 167-204.

Pleasants, Helene (1964). Biographical Dictionary of Parapsychology. Garrett Publications.  

Melton, J. Gordon, ed. (2001). “Hyslop, James Hervey”. Encyclopedia of Occultism & Parapsychology. Vol 1. Gate Research Inc.

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