Morris Pratt Institute
The Morris Pratt Institute is the primary educational facility
serving the National Spiritualist Association of Churches. It
dates to the 1890s when popular Spiritualist ministerlecturer
Moses Hull envisioned a training school to pass along the
teachings of Spiritualism to a new generation, many of the first
generation of Spiritualist leaders having already passed from
the scene. He opened such a school in Ohio soon after the
founding of the National Spiritualist Association (NSA) in
1893, but it survived only a few years. In 1901, Morris Pratt offered
the mansion he had constructed at Whitewater, Wisconsin,
to the NSA as a place to house a training school like the one
Hull had begun. The large mansion seemed ideal; it had one
room that could seat 400 people. However, the still-youthful
NSA declined the offer, unable to see itself clear financially to
manage the property. Pratt went ahead and incorporated the
Morris Pratt Institute but died the following year before a
school could be organized. Moses Hull picked up the vision in
1903 and organized the new school with himself, his wife and
his daughter as the faculty. A few years later, the NSA organized
a Bureau of Education. Through the person of Thomas
Grimshaw, who succeeded Hull as president of the institute, the
two organizations cooperated in the preparation of a course of
study consisting of two parts a general course on the ‘‘History,
Philosophy, and Religion of Modern Spiritualism,’’ and an advanced
course on ‘‘Spiritualism, Philosophy, Mediumship, and
comparative Religion,’’ the latter completed by Victoria Barnes
following Grimshaw’s death.
The institute had a shaky history through much of the twentieth
century. It closed during the Great Depression, reopened
in 1935 but soon closed again. In 1946 the Whitewater property
was closed and a new building to house the institute constructed
in Wauwatosa, a Milwaukee suburb. In 1977 the building
went through a complete renovation and rededication. The
institute eventually merged into the NSA and is now its Educational
Bureau. The institute is currently located at 111811
Waterplank Rd, Milwaukee, WI 53226-3340. Its website is at