Franklin County Historical Society to share history of Spiritualism in evening presentation – Osage County Online | Osage County News

Franklin County Historical Society to share history of Spiritualism in evening presentation

OTTAWA, Kan. – Spiritualism, a movement that involves attempting to communicate with the dead, spread across the world during the 19th century and even found its way into Franklin County history. The Franklin County Historical Society will host Katie Keckeisen’s presentation “Beyond the Veil: A History of Spiritualism,” at 7 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 2, 2023, at the FCHS Archives and Research Center, 2011 E. Logan St., Ottawa, Kan. The program will also be available online via Zoom and Facebook Live.

It seems one of the eternal questions that has plagued humanity centers around what happens to us when we die. Most modern religions try to tackle this question, but none did so with more fervor than modern Spiritualism. What started in a cabin in New York with two young girls quickly spread across the globe. Soon, spiritual mediums who claimed they could communicate with the dead could be found in almost every town in the nation.

Katie Keckeisen’s presentation, “Beyond the Veil: A History of Spiritualism,” examines the emergence of this religious phenomena, its connections to the Civil War and World War I, and how it led to a battle of words between the creator of Sherlock Holmes and the greatest magician of all time.

Keckeisen is the local history librarian at the Topeka and Shawnee County Public Library. She previously worked as collections archivist at the Kansas Historical Society. In addition to her work in museums and archives throughout the United States, Keckeisen researches and writes about the history of death and funerary practices in the 18th and 19th centuries.

For more information, including information to watch online, visit or contact FCHS at 785-242-1232 or

“Beyond the Veil: A History of Spiritualism” is part of the Humanities Kansas’s Speakers Bureau, which features humanities-based presentations designed to share stories that inspire, spark conversations that inform, and generate insights that strengthen civic engagement.

For more information about Spiritualism in Osage County, see this related article, Hidden History: Spiritualists reach final earthly destination at Ridgeway Cemetery.

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