Everything You Ever Wanted To Know About The Strange History Of The Mysterious Ouija Board

But, who exactly conceptualized the idea of creating this seemingly magical board is a much more complicated story that is deeply rooted in America’s obsession with spiritualism during the nineteenth century.

Before that, spiritualism– or the belief that the dead can contact and communicate with the living– had been running rampant in Europe for years.

Then, in 1848, America became entranced by the phenomenon. This sudden interest was only exacerbated by the Fox sisters of upstate New York, who claimed to receive messages and answers from spirits by rapping on walls.

This act began to be recreated in parlors throughout the state, and after making national headlines, spiritualism was all the rage.

It also coincided with Christian beliefs and offered a form of solace during an era where the average lifespan of Americans was less than fifty years old. So, knowing that there was some form of presence after death provided comfort to millions.

But, it was not until 1886, when the Associated Press covered the ouija board as a new popular practice among spiritualist camps in Ohio, that a man named Charles Kennard decided to capitalize on it.

Kennard was from Baltimore, Maryland, and, in 1890, he rallied a group of investors to launch the Kennard Novelty Company. And his sole goal was to manufacture and market the up-and-coming “talking boards.”

Unfortunately for some ouija board enthusiasts, though, the men were not spiritual themselves. They simply identified a growing niche and decided to take it to market.

Moreover, the exact origin of the name “ouija” is also not entirely known. Apparently, one of Kennard’s investors– a local attorney named Elijah Bond– got the name from his sister-in-law, Helen Peters.

Helen was reportedly a “strong medium” who had a locket with a picture of a woman and the word “ouija” above her head. Bond asked what it meant and learned that the word apparently meant “good luck,”– which was aptly creepy enough for the board’s purposes.

So, the team went with it. And after that, their last step before launching the famous ouija board was obtaining a patent– which is another wild story.

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