Price, Harry

Archive Collection

Scope and Content

Papers of Harry Price, c500 - 1999, comprising the following: Personal correspondence to and from Harry Price, 1926-1948; typescripts and drafts of plays by Price, c1900-c1940; typescripts and drafts of lectures regarding Sussex, coins and various matters, 1908-1912; papers relating to antiquaries and numismatics, including handwritten notes and catalogues, 1876-c1920; financial and legal records concerning the National Laboratory for Psychical Research, Borley Rectory and Arun Way, Pulborough, including tenancy agreements and correspondence, 1926-1946; papers regarding libel cases and threatened legal action against Price, 1928-1946; accounts and correspondence regarding personal financial matters, 1922-1950; notes and lectures regarding psychical research by Price and others, c1920-c1948; reports and statements regarding psychical investigation, magic and the paranormal, 1772-1948; papers and notes regarding automatic writings, 1909-1943; minutes and papers of the University of London Council for Psychical Investigation, 1934-1936; drafts and typescripts of Price's books and publications, 1922-1948; typescripts and lectures by various authors regarding psychical research, magic and the paranormal, 1886-1948; legal and financial papers concerning Price's books and publications, 1921-1946; correspondence, publicity and reviews regarding Price's books and publications, 1921-1948; scripts, correspondence and legal and financial papers regarding radio and television appearances by Price, 1930-1947; assorted manuscripts regarding psychical research, magic, astronomy and Salop, Shropshire, c500-c1800; press cuttings and cuttings scrapbooks collated by Price and others, 1450-1947; photographs regarding psychical research and other matters, c1850-1948; playbills, posters and promotional material concerning spiritualism, magic and various matters, c1850-1948; cinefilms and videos of psychic experiments by Price and others, 1932-1999; artefacts relating to Price's psychical research and personal items, 1684-c1939; playing cards and artefacts relating to magic, c1850-1939.

Administrative / Biographical History

Harry Price was born in January 1881 and educated in London and Shropshire. Between 1896 and 1898, Price founded the Carlton Dramatic Society and wrote small plays, and showed early interest in the unusual by experimenting with space-telegraphy between Telegraph Hill, Hatcham and Brockley. He also became interested in numismatics at an early age and was involved with archaeological excavations in Greenwich Park, London and Shropshire between 1902 and 1904 and in Pulborough, Sussex in 1909, culminating with his appointment as honorary curator of numismatics at Ripon Museum in 1904. He married Constance Mary Knight in August 1908. Price's first major success in psychical research came in 1922 when he exposed the fraudulence of 'spirit' photographs taken by William Hope. During the same year, Price investigated his first séance with Willi Schneider at the home of Baron von Schrenck-Notzing in Munich and published The Revelations of a Spirit Medium . In 1923, the National Laboratory of Psychical Research was established in Bloomsbury and Price had his first sittings with mediums Stella C, Jean Guzik and Anna Pilch. Shortly after, he outlined a scheme for broadcasting experiments in telepathy for the BBC and, in 1925, was appointed foreign research officer to the American Society for Psychical Research, apposition he was to hold until 1931. In 1926, the National Laboratory of Psychical Research moved to new premises in Queensbury Place, South Kensington, and Price was to experience his first sittings with Rudi Schneider in Braunau-am-Inn, Austria, and to conduct his first experiments with Eleanore Zugun in Vienna. One year later, Price publically opened the 'box' of prophetess, Joanna Southcott at a Church Hall in Westminster. In 1929, Rudi Schneider was brought to London for experiments into his mediumship and Price began his 10 year investigation of hauntings at Borley Rectory in Suffolk. Shortly after, the National Laboratory moved again to Roland Gardens in South Kensington. In 1932, Price, along with C.E.M.Joad, travelled to Mount Brocken in Germany to conduct a 'black magic' experiment in connection with the centenary of Goethe, involving the transformation of a goat into a young man. The following year, Price made a formal offer to the University of London to quip and endow a Department of Psychical Research, and to loan the equipment of the National Laboratory and its Library. The University of London Board of Studies in Psychology responded positively to this proposal and, in 1934, the University of London Council for Psychical Investigation was formed with Price as Honorary Secretary and Editor. Price's psychical research continued with investigations into Karachi's Indian rope trick and the fire-walking abilities of Kuda Bux in 1935. He was also involved in the formation of the National Film Library (British Film Institute) becoming its first chairman (until 1941) and was a founding member of the Shakespeare Film Society. In 1936, Price broadcast from a haunted manor house in Meopham, Kent for the BBC and published The Confessions of a Ghost-Hunter and The Haunting of Cashen's Gap . This year also saw the transfer of Price's library on permanent loan to the University of London, followed shortly by the laboratory and investigative equipment. In 1937, he conducted further televised experiments into fire-walking with Ahmed Hussain at Carshalton and Alexandra Palace, and also rented Borley Rectory for one year. The following year, Price re-established the Ghost Club, with himself as chairman, conducted experiments with Rahman Bey who was 'buried alive' in Carshalton and drafted a Bill for the regulation of psychic practitioners. In 1939, he organised a national telepathic test in the periodical John O'London's Weekly. During the 1940s, Price concentrated on writing and the works The Most Haunted House in England , Poltergeist Over England and The End of Borley Rectory were all published. He died in March 1948.

Publications: The Sceptic (psychic play), 1898; Coins of Kent and Kentish Tokens , 1902; Shropshire Tokens and Mints , 1902; Joint Editor, Revelations of a Spirit Medium , 1922; Cold Light on Spiritualistic Phenomena , 1922; Stella C.; An Account of Some Original Experiments in Psychical Research , 1925; Short-Title Catalogue of Works on Psychical Research, Spiritualism, Magic, etc . 1929; Rudi Schneider: A Scientific Examination of His Mediumship , 1930; Regurgitation and the Duncan Mediumship , 1931; An Account of Some Further Experiments with Rudi Schneider , 1933; Leaves from a Psychist's Case-book , 1933; Psychical Research (talking film), 1935; Confessions of a Ghost-Hunter , 1936; Faith and Fire-Walking , article in Encyclopædia Britannica, 1936; A Report on Two Experimental Fire-Walks , 1936; The Haunting of Cashen's Gap (with R. S. Lambert), 1936; Fifty Years of Psychical Research , 1939; The Most Haunted House in England: Ten Years' Investigation of Borley Rectory , 1940; Search for Truth: My Life for Psychical Research , 1942; Poltergeist over England , 1945; The End of Borley Rectory , 1946; film scenario of Borley hauntings (with Upton Sinclair), 1948; Works translated into eight languages; numerous pamphlets and contributions to British and foreign periodical literature.

Arrangement

The collection has no original order because readers were allowed to consult the material before it had been arranged and described by an archivist. The order has been imposed by the archivist which reflects the major activities of the creator. The fonds has been divided into 9 sub-fonds which are:

HPA Papers relating to personal matters and early interests HPB Legal and financial papers HPC Papers relating to psychic research HPD Publications and other related material HPE Papers relating to radio and film HPF Manuscripts and printed material HPG Photographic archive HPH Film archive HPI Artefacts

Conditions Governing Access

Access to this collection is unrestricted for the purpose of private study and personal research within the supervised environment and restrictions of the Library's Palaeography Room. Uncatalogued material may not be seen.

Acquisition Information

Bequest of Constance Price in 1976 and 1978.

Other Finding Aids

Fully catalogued on the ULRLS on-line archives catalogue, http://archives.ulrls.lon.ac.uk/search.aspx

Archivist's Note

Separated Material

Other Harry Price correspondence (1931-46) with Society of Authors is held at the British Library, Manuscript Collections. Reference: Add MSS 63317.

Conditions Governing Use

Copies may be made, subject to the condition of the original. Copying must be undertaken by the Palaeography Room staff, who will need a minimum of 24 hours to process requests.

Custodial History

For details of Price's offer of laboratory and library on permanent loan to the University of London Library in 1936 see: Senate minutes nos. 1197-99 (ST 2/2/53); Court minutes nos. 253-255 (CT 1/1/8); Library committee minutes nos. 288-295 (UL 1/1/5). For bequest of the Library in 1948-49 see: Senate minutes no. 720 (ST 2/2/65); Court minutes no. 58-60 (CT 1/1/20); Library committee minutes 238-241 and 289-291 (UL1/1/8). For bequest of Constance Price in 1976-78 see Senate minutes no. 2510 (ST 2/2/117); Court minutes no. 1017 (CT1/1/47) and nos. 520 and 1207 (CT 1/1/48); Library committee minutes (UL1/1/15).

All held in the University Archives, University of London Library.

Related Material

See MS1005 Harold Frost, held at University of London Library, for scrapbooks with typescript notes of sittings with mediums of various circles, particularly with the Mark's Tey circle in Essex. See MS1006 Dr Paul Tabori, held at University of London Library, for typescripts of plays and short stories.