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Radical Spirits: Spiritualism and Women's Rights in Nineteenth-Century America
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Radical Spirits: Spiritualism and Women's Rights in Nineteenth-Century America

4.03  ·  Rating details ·  174 ratings  ·  20 reviews
..". Ann Braude still speaks powerfully to unique issues of women's creativity-spiritual as well as political-in a superb account of the controversial nineteenth-century Spiritualist movement." --Jon Butler

"Radical Spirits is a vitally important book... [that] has... influenced a generation of young scholars." --Marie Griffith

In Radical Spirits, Ann Braude contends that
Paperback, Second Edition, 304 pages
Published November 1st 2001 by Indiana University Press (first published January 28th 1989)
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Dec 18, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: history
I loved this book. The origin of the Women's Rights movement in the United States is often depicted in a purely secular way, divorced from the religious and spiritual contexts that participated in its origins and development. Braude's book enlarges the standard academic view to include religion, and she does so by focusing on women in Spiritualism (a movement that started in the mid-1800s, which, among other things, highlighted the ability to communicate with the spirits of deceased loved ones, ...more
Christopher Smith
Mar 04, 2011 rated it really liked it
Braude argues that Spiritualists constituted the radical wing of the women's rights movement during the latter half of the nineteenth century. Spiritualism was a radically individualistic philosophy, which affirmed every individual's access to spiritual truth and in fact considered women somewhat more spiritually sensitive than men. This special sensitivity of women meant that they had the potential to be a very positive influence on America's male-dominated society. This meant that for ...more
Sep 21, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: us-history
Extremely interesting history of the "spiritual women" of the early to mid 1800s in the U.S. I expected this to be dry, but it is a great subject presented in a compelling manner. I'd been vaguely interested in the Transcendentalists but had never heard of these female Spiritualists whose claims of "possession" by higher powers allowed them to speak before crowds of hundreds on highly controversial topics of abolition and suffrage.

I wasn't keen on US religious history until this book. It opened
Jan 01, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-nonfiction
Very good intro to the influence of Spiritualism on early women's rights, abolition and other major social movements of the 19th century. Braude does a fine job of providing a higher level overview of the movement and its influence. This book made me want to read more and in greater detail, which is intended as high praise.
Braude offers to answer the following central question: Given the evidence of significant overlap between people who held Spiritualist beliefs and engaged in Spiritualist practices with people who were active in the woman’s rights movement in the nineteenth-century United States, what can we discover about the relationship between the two movements? She also poses two sub-questions specific to the analytical categories of gender, politics, and religion, including: 1) Why did Spiritualism appeal ...more
Susie  Meister
Aug 07, 2011 rated it really liked it
Ann Braude describes the birth and development of the Spiritualist movement and its connection to the women's rights movement. Women had long been assumed as having a closer connection to God than men, and many women saw the Spiritualist movement as a way to exploit that in order to gain leadership and a voice. It's beginning coincides with the women's rights movement in 1848 and spread at the same rate. Spiritualism was a response to the mid-century "crisis of faith" (4). They used a connection ...more
Mar 11, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I really loved this book, beginning with the very first sentence in the "Acknowledgments." Braude has written a fascinating and balanced blend of social, gender, and religious history. She examines the social radicalism on Women's Rights as it intersected with the religious radicalism of the Spiritualist movement and the relationship of both movements to the construction of gender in America. Furthermore, Braude successfully treats Spiritualism as a legitimate religion, with the compassion and ...more
J.B. Shearman
Jan 29, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
Nice book about an almost missing piece of history or at least it goes largely uncovered in general history books. It was very interesting to read about the entire movement and how it laid the foundation for the women's rights movement and its role in the abolition movement. There were some heavy hitters during this time period that bought into the movement that gave it some intellectual credibility. I'd be interested in reading more about the core belief and investigation of the religion along ...more
Aug 24, 2018 rated it really liked it
As I read for my thesis, I become more and more interested in the Spiritualist movement and how it related to the early women’s rights movement. This book gave me the rudimentary background I needed on the history of Spiritualism in general and made me realize that there was a huge gap in my knowledge of this topic. I had no idea that Spiritualism arose from the Quakers or the basic individualist tenets behind it, nor that the movement wasn’t solely comprised of “dark circles” and spirit ...more
Sep 28, 2018 rated it really liked it
I intended to skim this book for research, but I ended up reading it more carefully because damn, this is a wonderfully written and researched book about a period of feminist history I knew nothing about. How is it that some of these amazing women have failed to make it into more mainstream women's histories?

I'm especially obsessed with Achsa Sprag. Everyone knows Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton but there were so many more radical voices for women's rights (and abolition and
Melanie Brewster
Dec 30, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This was an incredible snapshot of a time in American history when women were at the frontlines of social justice movements in exceptionally nontraditional ways (i.e., trance speaking on issues of feminism and abolition). Probably one of the most important pieces of work on historical sexism out there, and lays important groundwork for understanding the rise of modern "wellness" movements among women.
Sean Hall
Aug 22, 2017 rated it liked it
A mostly hidden side of history which explore a sort of collective subconscious of the evolution of human rights from abolitionism to women's rights, voices of strength for the repressed, and the lack of cohesion with nearly any organization - yet still, goals are achieved.
Darla Peterson
Nov 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This will change a true heart if it is read. I see where the feminist movement has take us and where it will end up. If your a new age feminist, you will just be angered , offended, and maddened by the honest truth of this book.
Dan Gorman
Dec 04, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
Read this first in 2011, returned to it this year for grad school. I got a lot more out of it this time around. Braude is a terrific narrative writer and manages to write a critical, academic history of Spiritualism without ridiculing the beliefs of the characters. Spiritualism gave women political and reform opportunities, but most of all it comforted people, promising an end to death. Mothers could talk to dead children; husbands could reach dead wives. The movement lost its radical edge after ...more
Betsy Phillips
Dec 12, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nashville-book
This is a really excellent overview of the role of Spiritualism in America, especially its importance in shaping women's history. Ha, which I guess you could tell by the subtitle. So, let me just say that this book is exactly what it claims to be. Braude strikes a nice balance of being respectful of these women's beliefs while still talking frankly about the individual and societal reasons these manifestations took the forms they did.
Sep 15, 2009 rated it liked it
This book is about how the spiritualist movement influenced and furthered the woman's rights movement in the 19th century. It is a scholarly, dense and well written book about a subject I suspect is not a popular one for authors to tackle. A must read on either subject.
Apr 22, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Awesome--Braude makes a convincing argument that Spiritualism had a large hand in the women's rights movement, and that Spiritualism should be thought of as a bona fide religion.
Jan 04, 2012 rated it really liked it
Good resource for understanding the relationship between spiritualism and the women's rights movement in upstate New York.
Lorraine Herbon
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Collier Brown
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Dec 30, 2012
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