Seances, Vampires and Ghosts, Oh My!

Starting this evening, the Providence Public Library will be helping to host the RI International Horror Film Festival.  Getting into the spirit of the film festival and Halloween, here's a highlight of some or the Rhode Island Collection ghoulish works.



Mr. Benjamin Franklin Macy's Lecture on Mysterious Knockings, mesmerism, &c, with a brief history of the Old Stone Mill, and a prediction of its fall was delivered in Newport and printed in 1851.  As a humorous parody of a lecture of a mesmerist, the work was published during the height of the 19th century craze for spiritualism - the belief and practice of communicating with the dead.  Mesmerists were followers of the philosophy of Franz Mesmer (1734-1815) who developed the idea of animal magnetism in which all animals relayed a magnetized energy.  By the mid 19th century, it had helped spawn hypnosis and trance as ways to communicate with the spiritual world and the idea of "electrical psychology".  The latter is a particular theme of Mr. Macy's lecture.   Rhode Islanders with an interest in the mystery of the Old Stone Mill in Newport might be surprised to hear Macy's explanation of it's origin!  




In addition to a number of popular works compiling stories of hauntings in Rhode Island, we've got copes of House of Darkness, House of Light by Andrea Perron (vols. 1 & 2).  These accounts tell the story of the Perron family and the hauntings they experienced while living in a 1736 farmhouse in Harrisville, Rhode Island.  The story was recently made into the feature film The Conjuring.  


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Kate Wells

As the Rhode Island Collection librarian at Providence Public Library, Kate Wells helps bring Rhode Island history to light by increasing access to the collection and providing research assistance to patrons. In the “Rhode Island Red” blog, Kate showcases interesting materials from the collection, provides research tip & techniques, and highlights local history. Feel free to contact her if you have any Rhode Island related questions; she is always happy to help. Email:


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