A Cabinet of Curiosities
"The world will not perish for want of wonders, but for want of wonder"
scientist JBS Haldane (1892-1964).
Rabbit Woman of Godalming
[image courtesy Glasgow University Library Special Collections]
- The physician James Douglas (1675-1742), collected material on Mary Toft (fl. 1726) of Godalming (Surrey, England), who claimed to have given birth to a litter of rabbits.
- Charlotte Anne Moberly (1846-1937) and Eleanor Frances Jourdain (1863-1924), Oxford academics, wrote an account (admired by JRR Tolkien) of how they had seen what appeared be the ghost of Marie Antoinette, consort of Louis XVI of France.
- Sir Alister Clavering Hardy (1896-1985) was a zoologist with an interest in telepathy (psychic communication); in 1968, he set up the Religious Experience Research Unit at Manchester College, Oxford, which continues today as the Alister Hardy Research Centre at the University of Wales, Lampeter.
- Author and social philosopher Arthur Koestler (1905-1983) provided in his will for the endowment of the Koestler Chair of Parapsychology at the University of Edinburgh.
- Phrenology was the science of "character divination" based on the study of the shape and protuberances of the skull. The Phrenological Society of Edinburgh was founded in 1820.
- In Britain in the early 19th century, anatomists were restricted to the body of one executed criminal a year for dissection, which led to a wave of grave-robbing. The toxicologist Professor Sir Robert Christison (1797-1882) was medical witness in the trial of Burke and Hare, who had murdered to meet the growing demands of anatomists for bodies; the surgeon Dr Robert Knox (1791-1862) was one of Burke and Hare's customers.
- The chemist Professor John Ferguson (1837-1916) amassed a personal library of material relating to alchemy, books of secrets, occult sciences, and witchcraft.
- James VI of Scotland (James I of Great Britain and Ireland) (1566-1625) was a keen witch-hunter and the author of a book on the subject; Kate Niven, the "Witch of Monzie" was the last woman to be burned as a witch in Scotland, around 1715. Dr Walter E. Davies wrote about witchcraft in Wales.
- Journalist and author Anthony Grey (born 1938) began researching UFOs (unidentified flying objects), which led him to join the Raelian Movement, who believe that life on Earth was engineered by an advanced extra-terrestrial civilisation.
- The distinguished Royal Marines Major and Conservative MP Sir Patrick Wall (1916-1998) was President of the British UFO Research Association (Bufora).
- Koestler Parapsychology Unit: University of Edinburgh.
- Fortean Times: the journal of strange phenomena.
- Archives for UFO Research Foundation: founded in Sweden in 1973 (AFU, Swedish website in English)
- Ferguson Collection at Glasgow University Library's Special Collections Department.
- Museums and the Macabre: a "museum trail" from the 24 Hour Museum - the gateway to UK museums and galleries.
- Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal taking a sceptical look
- Curiouser and Curiouser: another peek into the Archives Hub's Cabinet of Curiosities (August 2003)
Links are provided to records on Copac for these items. Copac is the free, web based national union catalogue, containing the holdings of many of the major university and National Libraries in UK and Ireland plus a number of special libraries. For more information about accessing items see the FAQs on the Copac website.
- Katherine Mary Briggs The Personnel of Fairyland : a short account of the fairy people of Great Britain for those who tell stories to children Records on Copac
- Roger Cooter The Cultural Meaning of Popular Science: phrenology and the organization of consent in nineteenth-century Britain Records on Copac
- Paul Devereux and Peter Brookesmith UFOs and Ufology : the first 50 years Records on Copac
- Hugh Douglas Burke and Hare. Records on Copac
- W.Y. Evans-Wentz The Fairy-faith in Celtic Countries. Records on Copac
- Charles Fort The Book of the Damned Records on Copac
- Alister Hardy, Robert Harvie, Arthur Koestler: The Challenge of Chance : a mass experiment in telepathy and its unexpected outcome..Records on Copac
- C. A. E. Moberly and E. F. Jourdain (ed. Joan Evans).An Adventure. Records on Copac
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