Public Program- Barbara Weisberg

Lectures and Performances
Thursday, April 15, 2004 - 7:30pm

Mysterious Raps and Apparitions:
The Fox Sisters and America's Passion for Talking to the Dead

by Barbara Weisberg

Talking to the dead, book cover with the two fox sisters on it
In 1848, two young girls, Kate and Maggie Fox, anxiously reported to a neighbor that their family had been hearing strange raps at night. Within a few years, tens of thousands of Americans were flocking to séances to contact the departed, and Kate and Maggie Fox had become world-famous mediums. How did a reported haunting in rural New York state spark the rise of the international movement known as Modern Spiritualism, and what role did the Fox sisters play in this transformation? Why were these two nineteenth-century children so influential in convincing ordinary Americans that the dead can talk to the living? In this program, Barbara Weisberg discusses the Fox sisters and reads from her new book, Talking to the Dead, a family saga that reflects the tensions of life in mid-nineteenth century America and also illuminates the age-old--and very current--longing to communicate with spirits.

barbara weisberg Barbara Weisberg had a distinguished career in television before becoming an accomplished poet and writer. She was co-creator of the syndicated situation comedy Charles in Charge in addition to other projects for WNET, HBO, and Nickelodeon. Her writings include Coronado's Gold Quest, a nonfiction children's book, and Susan B. Anthony, a young adult biography. Weisberg conducted research on the Fox sisters while an AAS Creative and Performing Artist and Writers Fellow in 1998. Her book on the sisters, Talking to the Dead: Kate and Maggie Fox and the Rise of Spiritualism, is forthcoming from HarperSanFrancisco in April 2004.

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