Ghost Hunters of the South

GHOST HUNTERS OF THE SOUTH. By Alan Brown. Jackson: The University Press of Mississippi, 2006. 393 pp. Hardbound, $50.00; Softbound, $22.00.
Alphine W. Jefferson
Randolph-Macon College

From the documentation of paranormal investigations in the 1850s and the prevalence of séances in elite homes in the late nineteenth century to the popularity of contemporary movies and television shows about ghosts, the occult, supernatural phenomena, vampires, and witches, Americans have been fascinated with the unknown. They have tried to communicate with the dead, conjure up spirits, receive messages and read signs from the nonphysical world, and see the dead for centuries. It is in that vein that Alan Brown's book, Ghost Hunters of the South, has special significance. Traditional folklore about haunted houses, stories of Confederate soldiers still walking the battlefields, and tales of benevolent visitations from long-dead relatives have been a staple of Southern culture in particular and American history in general. This belief in ghosts has created the modern fascination with scientific investigations of ethereal occurrences. These practices range from channeling and spirit possession to the actual documentation and recording of extraordinary actions, encounters, noises, sightings, smells, and visitations.
Using oral history as his primary methodological tool, and serving as an occasional participant and observer, Brown fuses together a book that contains many specific references to the supernatural. Without …

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