Talking to Ghosts: How Two Sisters’ Hoax Sparked a Spiritualism Craze

In March 1848, two young sisters in Hydesville, New York came up with what they may have considered a fun prank. Teenager Maggie Fox and her younger sister Kate claimed that there was a spirit communicating with them by making otherworldly raps on the walls and furniture of their house. When their mother asked how many children she’d had, the spirit appeared to rap out the correct number. One of their neighbors reportedly witnessed these sounds, and word spread that there was something strange going on at the Fox house.

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