People have long since been fascinated with paranormal activities. Stories of mysterious occurrences and frightening experiences have been around since before the inception of Hollywood. And with great fascination comes thorough investigation.
This article includes a number of historical ghost hunters who dedicated their lives to researching and exposing the truth behind these paranormal occurrences and mysterious beings.
1. Ed and Lorraine Warren
Ed and Lorraine Warren are American paranormal investigators, authors, lecturers and self-taught demonologists. They rose to prominence in 1952, when they founded the New England Society for Psychic Research – the first society dedicated to ghost hunting and paranormal investigation all over the region. Over the course of their careers, Ed and Lorraine Warren claimed to have investigated over 10,000 cases of paranormal activity.
One of the Warrens’ more notable cases is the Perron Family Investigation. This began when a young couple, Roger and Carolyn Perron, moved into a 200-acre home in Rhode Island. All was well, save for one tiny fact. The house was once home to a Bathsheba Thayer and her 4 young children, three of whom died young. The mysterious circumstances surrounding the deaths of her young children lead to Bathsheba being ostracized by the town. This social rejection then, led her to hang herself. Because of this history, the Perron Family reported multiple cases of sinister paranormal interactions. Ed and Lorraine got involved and began investigating, which only led to the ghostly interactions becoming more and more aggressive. The Perrons eventually asked the Warrens to leave. The Perrons Family Investigation is supposedly the story behind the 2013 blockbuster horror film ‘The Conjuring’.
Another famous Ed and Lorraine Warren case was the possessed Raggedy Ann doll, which inspired the story behind the 2014 horror film entitled ‘Annabelle’. In 1970, a student nurse was given a Raggedy Ann doll by her father. Soon after, however, the nurse and her roommate began noticing odd things surrounding the doll. It would seemingly switch positions or even rooms on its own. This behavior quickly escalated into leaving messages for the girls to find, and blood on the doll itself. The girls, understandably shaken by the doll’s actions, called in the Warrens to ask for their help. Ed and Lorraine Warren confirmed to the sisters that there was a spirit possessing the doll – the spirit of a deceased 7-year-old by the name of Annabelle Higgins. The Warrens performed a special blessing in the home of the two girls and promptly took the doll off their hands. The doll has been residing in the Warrens’ Connecticut Occult Museum ever since.
Ed Warren passed away in 2006, while the now-retired Lorraine still makes sporadic media appearances. Their son-in-law has continued their legacy.
2. Harry Price
Harry Price was a British psychic researcher and author, born in the 1880s. He gained fame (and notoriety) when he began making a career out of exposing fraudulent spiritual mediums. He began his research and investigations of the paranormal at the ripe age of 15, after he and a friend stayed overnight in a haunted manor.
Price was also famous for the investigation of the Borley Rectory. Price was very dedicated to his research, so much so that he spent a year living in the Borley Rectory- known as the most haunted house in England – and documenting his findings. Despite Price’s insistence that the Borley Rectory was truly haunted, those who studied his investigations claim that Price had fraudulently produced some of the phenomena.
Price’s other notable contributions to the world of paranormal research include the investigation of Helen Duncan, who was suspected to be a witch, and of Gef, the talking mongoose who resided on The Isle of Man.
Harry Price suffered a fatal heart attack in 1948, aged 67.
3. Peter Underwood
Peter Underwood, one of history’s most prolific paranormal investigators, was born in Hertfordshire in 1923. His paranormal experiences began early. At the age of 9, he claimed to see an apparition of his father at the foot of his bed, the very day his father had died. He also apparently saw the figure of a headless person drifting in one of his homes as a child.
He was particularly fascinated with our old friend Harry Price’s work, and idolized him from a young age. He began corresponding with Price and even conducted a separate and incredibly thorough investigation regarding the Borley Rectory, where he interviewed everyone connected to ‘the most haunted house in England’. He began corresponding with Price about this, and eventually Price invited Underwood to the Ghost Club – an organization based in London dedicated to paranormal investigation and research. Underwood was a prominent member of the club, and eventually became president in 1960, and headed it for 33 years.
Underwood was also an accomplished author, with more than 50 publications to his name. He wrote of his paranormal and metaphysical endeavors, mainly surveying haunted locations with England and Great Britain.
Known as the King of the Ghosthunters after accepting an invitation to be the Patron of The Ghost Research Foundation, Underwood died in 2014, at the age of 91.
4. Karlis Osis
Karlis Osis, born 1917, was a Latvian psychologist who dedicated his time to exploring the idea of life after death. In fact, his dissertation was supposedly solely focused on extrasensory perception.
Karlis’ first research on the matter consisted of him and another researcher, Erlendur Haraldsson, sending out hundreds of questionnaires to doctors in the United States and in some parts of India, asking them to write down their observations of the patients. The results, with more than 50,000 patients, showed that around 50% of the respondents had deathbed visions. Of course, skeptics had their criticisms. The fact that the survey was filled by the doctors and nurses, and not by the people who actually had the deathbed visions (because they were dying, but still) means the information would have gone through two people before reaching Karlis and Haraldsson. Moreover, there were claims that the study’s numbers were intentionally misrepresented.
Osis was also highly interested in out-of-body experiences and throughout the 1970s, conducted several out-of-body experience experiments alongside psychic Alex Tanous.
These experiments consisted of an out-of-body Osis being asked to identify coloured targets from a remote location. A reported 114 hits from 197 trials (almost 58%) sent Osis into frenzy, with claims there is more to out-of-body investigation. However, one skeptic by the name of Susan Blackmore rained on their parade, showing that 108 hits were expected by chance.
In a different but closely related experiment conducted by the same pair, Tanous attempted to leave his body into a sealed chamber with strain gauges that would detect any sort of physical presence. Osis and Tanous once again claimed that Tanous had left his body and was in fact present at the target location. But once again, skeptics criticized the process of their investigation, such as the fact that they hadn’t measured the baseline activity of the device before the start of the experiment. These methods had Osis be branded as ‘a sloppy researcher’ by esteemed members of the scientific community.
Osis died in 1997 at the age of 80.
Understanding the Paranormal Profession
These names are a select few of the hundreds of people who have dedicated a big part of their lives towards investigating paranormal mysteries and metaphysical phenomena. The truth is, the paranormal, the unknown, the mysterious, whatever you want to call it, has always been fascinating, and odds are it will continue to do so. Be it a gadget-heavy, focused and gritty ghost hunter, a scientist in a lab conducting experiments, or a regular curious individual, there will always be people who dedicate their time, effort and often entire lives in the quest to study and know more about the paranormal.