T.G. Hamilton, who was a physician and an MLA at one time, did these investigations from about 1918 to his death in 1935. But his family, headed by Lillian Hamilton, continued on into the 60s.
And so what they did was that they had a seance circle and they did a series of investigations related to spiritualism taking photographs of phenomena, they started with table levitations and they went on to the ectoplasm which are the most famous parts of the collection.
Maybe 800 unique photographs.
And these were done on glass plates and then they created prints and then you get the supporting documentation. Certainly would be one of the handful of the most complete collections on spiritualist investigations of photography in the world.
The most interesting records are the ectoplasm phenomena that are photographed.
So you have a medium, and you have a large white substance coming out of their mouth and inside the substance there... there can be what appeared to be photographs. These are called extras.
So there's a photograph of Conan Doyle who was the leading spiritualist of that time.
People create things out of the photographs or use them for inspiration. We've had everything from plays, from novels, from Hollywood feature films, documentaries, academic articles, academic books, it's always surprising what people do with it.
How they were created, in some ways isn't really that the big issue it's... it's like why they were created, and what the people believe (who are doing it), but in some ways they're they're really almost piece of religious art.
So these people were creating something that they believed proved that there was something beyond.
When it came into into the archives here in in the early 1980s there would be no equivalent collection and there was, even though the people involved, the archivist involved, was very open to it, there was a feeling that it would make the archives like, people would come back and say:
“Why are you keeping things that aren't real in the archives?” and there would be a stigma attached.
Once we we take in a collection like this and we take it very seriously and you know, give it respect and so on, people see that as a safe space for people to donate and realize we're willing to take collections, willing to look at them and take them, you know, very seriously.
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