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History of Electronic Voice Phenomena (EVP)

Updated on May 14, 2013
Thomas Edison
Thomas Edison

by Christine B.

When most people think about Electronic Voice Phenomena (EVP) they think of it as being a relatively new concept. Those who believe that would be wrong. In actuality, people have been recording EVP for over a hundred years. And some of the early experimenters in the technique might surprise you …

Thomas Edison believed whole heatedly in the survival of the soul after death. Before his own death he was working on a way to communicate with the departed. In the 1890s one of his goals with his invention of the phonograph was to use it for spirit communication.

Then, in the late 1920s, he tried to make contact with those who had passed away by means of special chemical equipment. Unfortunately, Edison was unsuccessful before he died. However, spirit voices were first captured on phonograph records as early as 1938, seven years after his death.

Friedrich Jürgenson (1903-1987)

Jürgenson was in some ways a Renaissance Man — an archeologist, a philosopher, a linguist, a painter who was commissioned by Pope Pius XII, a singer and recording artist, and a film documentary maker. Jürgenson’s interest in Electronic Voice Phenomena apparently began when, after having recorded bird songs with a tape recorder, he could hear human voices on the tapes, even though there had been no one else in the area while he was recording.

This surprising event naturally piqued his interest, and he turned his attention to making recordings in a quite place with no one present. He continued to detect voices on these tapes, and his studies led to the 1964 publication of his book Rosterna fran Rymden (“Voices From Space”).

After careful examination of his recordings, Jürgenson recognized some of the voices that his tape recorder picked up, including that of his mother, who was deceased. The voice called him by her pet nickname for him. After that realization, Jürgenson came to the conclusion that all the voices that he had recorded were voices of the dead. In 1967, he published Sprechfunk mit Verstorbenen (“Radio-Link with the Dead”).

Dr Konstantin Raudive (1906-1974),
was a Latvian psychologist who taught at the University of Uppsala in Sweden. He was preoccupied with parapsychological interests all his life and especially with the possibility of life after death.

In 1964, Raudive read Jürgenson’s book, Voices from Space, and was so impressed by it that he arranged to meet Jürgenson in 1965. He then worked with Jürgenson to make some EVP recordings, but all they were able to record were very weak, muddled, voices.

However, one night, as Raudive listened to one of his recording, he heard a number of voices and when he played the tape over and over, he was able to understand them, although they were in several different languages– German, Latvian, and in French. The last voice on the tape was that of woman, who said: “Va dormir, Margarete” ("Go to sleep, Margaret”). Raudive later wrote (in his book Breakthrough): “These words made a deep impression on me, as Margarete Petrautzki had died recently, and her illness and death had greatly affected me.”

Raudive then started researching such voices on his own, and spent much of the last ten years of his life exploring electronic voice phenomena. With the help of various electronics experts, he recorded over 100,000 audiotapes, most of which were made under what he described as “strict laboratory conditions.” Over 400 people were involved in his research, and all apparently heard the voices. This culminated in the 1971 publication of his book Breakthrough. His impact was such that these phenomena are now often referred to simply as “Raudive voices.”

In 1949, Marcello Bacci of Italy began recording voices with an old tube radio. People would come to Bacci's home to talk with their departed relatives.

A few years later, two Italian priests named Father Ernetti and Father Gemelli were trying to record a Gregorian chant on their magneto phone, but the machine kept breaking. Exasperated, Father Gemelli looked up and asked his father for help. To his surprise, his dead father's voice answered from the magneto phone, "Of course I shall help you. I'm always with you."

Sarah Estep, one of the most outspoken EVP researchers, started the American Association of Electronic Voice Phenomenon (AAEVP) in 1982. She claims to have communicated with thousands of ghosts, as well as with aliens.

Thousands of EVP have been recorded since Edison opened up the possibility to the world. Many people record unexplained voices without realizing what they have captured. If you try it, you’ll be surprised at what you will be able to record yourself. Experiment yourself and then let me know what you come up with.


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    • Christine B. profile image

      Christine B. 7 years ago from Medina, Ohio

      Thanks, Liz! :o)

    • DzyMsLizzy profile image

      Liz Elias 7 years ago from Oakley, CA

      WOW! Fascinating! I had no idea the history of EVP's went back so far! Learn something new every day! Thanks for another interesting read!

    • SwiftlyClean profile image

      SwiftlyClean 7 years ago from Texas

      Great information,I remember doing a writeup in school about Thomas Eddison.

      Great Hub!


      Sharon Smith

    • Christine B. profile image

      Christine B. 7 years ago from Medina, Ohio

      You're welcome--thanks for stopping by! :o)

    • jayjay40 profile image

      jayjay40 7 years ago from Bristol England

      I heard about the Thomas Eddison machine, but knew little about it. Thanks for a very informative hub