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The History of Ghost Hunting

Updated on June 25, 2015

Pliny the Younger

Most are familiar with the so called ghost hunting shows on television. But how long has such activity been going on?

The first reference to a ghost hunt is found in 100 AD by Pliny, the younger,a lawyer, author and magistrate in ancient Rome. The story involved an investigation of a haunted house in ancient Athens.

However, paranormal research organizations like those of today are actually a relatively new phenomenon.

The oldest recognized such organization in the world is thought to be The Ghost Club, founded in London in 1862.

In the mid 1880's, the American Psychological Association suggested applying scientific method to paranormal investigations and the idea found strong support in England.

The result was the Society for Psychical Research whose mission was to study the existence of ghosts or spirits.

Investigators gathered case studies, attended séances and designed tests to validate claims of sightings. They also developed the ''Census of Hallucinations,” which effectively tracked apparitions of persons who were said to have made spectral appearances on the day they died.

Borley Rectory 1892

Similar haunting investigations were done by London's National Laboratory of Psychical Research during the 1920s. In the 1950s and 60s, American independent researchers such as Hans Holzer and Ed and Lorraine Warren began their own investigations. However, long before it became popular as television shows, other serious minded paranormal and parapsychology investigators in the 1970s and 80s were actively pursuing the subject.

Apparently, ghosts have been around since antiquity. Even in biblical times Christian disciples must have believed in their existence. For instance, they thought Jesus was a ghost walking on the water as he approached their boat until he called out and identified himself.

So ghost hunting isn't a modern activity by any means. One of the first known ghost hunters was Joseph Glanvill, a chaplain of English king Charles II in the late 1600s. Glanvill investigated ghostly activity in the British Isles. His most famous case was the Drummer of Tedworth, an early poltergeist case.


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    • profile image

      no one else 7 months ago

      hi there. this is a really nice website. It really helped me with my science project about pseudoscience.

    • JY3502 profile image

      John Young 6 years ago from Florence, South Carolina

      Ruff, now come on now, you don't believe they saw something? You think they would lie about such a thing? Do you think they also get paid...LOL

    • profile image

      ruffridyer 6 years ago from Dayton, ohio

      I enjoy the Ghost Hunter shows. I notice they will suddenly turn and stare in one direction whispering "What is that?" Then they go to commercial, when they come back on there is never anything substancial to see.

    • manthy profile image

      Mark 6 years ago from Alabama,USA

      Cool Hub - I din't realize it had been going on that long.

    • JY3502 profile image

      John Young 6 years ago from Florence, South Carolina

      Lucky, As a journalist, I don't interject my own opinions. However, this is off the record. I believe people claiming encounters of this sort believe they have seen something, but the truth about what they are seeing is the question. I believe Satan is the greatest deceiver of all time.

    • Lucky Cats profile image

      Kathy 6 years ago from The beautiful Napa Valley, California

      Hello JY! I have always been drawn to the theory/belief of 'ghosts,' and hauntings. For some reason, the idea is quite attractive. I can rationalize this by thinking that, of course, how else would/could it be? After all, our 'spirit,' 'soul' is energy, not tangible and, therefore, what happens to does not disipate; it transforms, changes, continues. Therefore, I surmise, the energy remains after death and then...well, there is all kinds of speculation (I, personally, like to believe we continue on, recognizing ourselves and others...). What I would like to know, Mr. JY, is what does the author of this fact filled, interesting and intriguing hub think? the links and, in the past, always appreciate the videos, etc. I think I've forgotten to say that previously.

      UP Useful and Awesome. and Thank you!

    • Seeker7 profile image

      Helen Murphy Howell 6 years ago from Fife, Scotland

      Brilliant hub. This is a fascinating insight into the history of the paranormal and the links were great.

    • moonlake profile image

      moonlake 6 years ago from America

      Enjoyed your hub great information.

    • JY3502 profile image

      John Young 6 years ago from Florence, South Carolina

      I didn't know this hub would get so much attention in such a short amount of time. Thanks for all of your comments!

    • ChristinS profile image

      Christin Sander 6 years ago from Midwest

      What a great history of paranormal investigations and ghost hunting - very interesting. Voted up and awesome :)

    • TheMysticStranger profile image

      TheMysticStranger 6 years ago from Rowlett, Texas

      Great Hub. Thanks. I love ghost hunting and had never read about its history. Thanks again.

    • TamCor profile image

      Tammy Cornett 6 years ago from Ohio

      I really enjoyed this hub--the link to "The Drummer of Tedworth" was fascinating--thank you for including it.

      I hadn't realized what a history ghost hunting had. I love to watch all the paranormal shows, so to read so much about the history was wonderful.

      I know lots of folks scoff at this type of thing, but, if it interests you, it really doesn't matter what the others think! :)

      Thanks again for a thoroughly enjoyable read!