Thursday, November 20, 2014

The Ouija Files: Talking Board Historical Society Goes Public

BY BRANDON HODGE

Fans of Ouija now have a new avenue to celebrate their passion for the mysterious talking boards. This week, the Talking Board Historical Society debuted a new Facebook page that exploded in popularity overnight. Though formally established last year, the society’s roots trace back to 2008 as a loose affiliation of talking board collectors and enthusiasts brought together by talking board historian Robert Murch. The group is now raising its public profile in advance of 2015’s OuijaCon, set to take place in Baltimore on April 23-25.

The group’s most famous effort is erecting the talking board-inspired headstone at the unmarked grave of Ouija patentee Elijah Bond in Baltimore’s historic Green Mount Cemetery, which has since become the historic cemetery’s most-requested gravesite. In addition, they successfully petitioned the city of Baltimore to recognize William Fuld’s Harford Avenue Ouija factory, built in 1919, as a historical landmark, which became the first public landmark in Maryland acknowledging the city’s Ouija history. Next, the group hopes to honor the contributions of the medium Helen Peters Nosworthy to Ouija and American history, and is raising funds to place a marker at her grave commemorating her for giving the board its iconic name.

The group’s new Facebook page will include updates on the group’s activities and plans for the upcoming conference, and regularly feature the research of the world’s top historians in spirit communication devices, including the TBHS’s Chairman of the Board, Robert Murch, Vice President Brandon Hodge of MysteriousPlanchette.com, and the Museum of Talking Boards’ Gene Orlando, with contributions from the group’s other directors and members.

The research of TBHS members seeks to unlock the hidden histories and stories of the men and women behind such boards as this 1890s Kennard Novelty Company Ouija board from the collection of director Andrew Vespia.
“Ouija’s place in modern pop culture is at an all-time high, and the time couldn’t be better for our organization to go public and show everyone the great work we’ve been doing over the years,” says Murch. Indeed, with the recent success of the Ouija movie and the first redesign of Hasbro’s iconic board since 1998, the popularity of talking boards is soaring, and the Talking Board Historical Society hopes to keep the record straight on the boards’ historical impact and pop culture significance.

You can meet the TBHS’s Board of Directors and the researchers that are at the forefront of recovering and preserving Ouij’a history at facebook.com/talkingboardhistoricalsociety and on twitter @TalkingBoardHS.

Brandon Hodge is a collector, author, historian, and the prevailing authority on automatic writing planchettes and early spirit communication devices, which he features on his popular website, MysteriousPlanchette.com, and his Facebook page at facebook.com/mysteriousplanchette

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