The History Of The Ouija Board

There’s no time like the present for a quick history lesson. Almost every one of us have used a Ouija board at least once in our lives. More than likely the first experience you had with a board was at a sleep over asking silly questions like “Who will I marry?” or  “Is Elvis really dead?”.  At some point you probably got spooked and swore to never use one again, I know I did. Then there are those who seek answers and communications with those beyond in a more serious note. The word Ouija alone conjures fear and mystery. The Ouija has been widely used for almost 125 years. Talking boards have always been popular among practitioners of many religions, especially Spiritualists.  The boards gained popularity during the 19th century thanks to the Fox sisters of New York. They supposedly began communicating with an entity that went by the name “Mr. Splitfoot” in 1884. The Fox sisters became celebrities in the world of the paranormal and were invited to most every social event, as well as hired to host countless séances by those high up in society. ouija3 At first letters were written on cards and patrons sat waiting for knocks or objects to move to signal letters or words. Following the Civil War and through the 1930’s the Spiritualism movement spread throughout England and the US. Beginning in the late 1880’s patrons would hire so called “Mediums” and practitioners to host séances in their homes. E.C. Reiche is noted as the inventor of the board but Charles Kennard also claimed he was the inventor. In 1890 The board got it’s name during a séance in Baltimore when two men along with Elijah Bond and Bond’s sister-in-law Helen Peters, who was a medium, asked the board what was it’s name. The board supposedly answered “Ouija”. When asked what Ouija meant the board spelled out “good luck”. Soon the board was mass produced and any untrained person could use the form of communication. The W.S. Reed Toy Company made a unique board and sent it to Grover Cleveland as a wedding gift, however it is not know if Cleveland ever put it to use.

In 1891 the word “Ouija” was trademarked by Kennard. In 1893 Kennard sells the trademark and William Fuld took possession of the company. Eventually the séance fad died down and the family of Fuld sold the rights to the Ouija board in 1966 to the Parkers Brothers Company who mass produced the board as a game. Sales of the board have fallen and risen many times since it’s creation. Over the past couple of years the popularity of Ouija boards have once again grown with the release of movies like “Ouija”, “The Conjuring” and “Paranormal Activity”.

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I’ll admit it, Ouija boards scare the hell out of me. There have been many reports of bad things that have occurred during the use of the boards, from possessions and hauntings to people actually going crazy. If you insist on using the Ouija I recommend that you be cautious and always say “Goodbye”.

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