Prince, Walter Franklin (1863–1934)
Prominent American psychical researcher, research officer
of the American Society for Psychical Research (1920–25)
and cofounder and research officer of the Boston Society for
Psychical Research (1925–32). He was born in Detroit, Maine,
April 22, 1863. After graduating from the Maine Wesleyan
Seminary in 1881, he attended Yale University (B.A., 1896;
Ph.D, 1899), and Drew Theological Seminary (B.D., 1896). He
became the pastor of Methodist Episcopal congregations in
Maine and Connecticut and then joined the Protestant Episcopal
Church and served parishes in Brooklyn, Pittsburgh, and
San Bernardino, California.
From church social work, he was led to study abnormal psychology
and became the director of psychotherapeutics at St.
Mark’s Episcopal Church in New York City (1916–17). While
there, he met and became the assistant to James Hervey Hyslop,
who had reestablished the American Society for Psychical
Research. In 1925 he became the Society’s research officer, a
post he held until the controversy over Mina Crandon (‘‘Margery’’)
flared in the mid-1920s. The controversy split the society.
Prince believed Margery a fraud and resigned from his position
with the Society over his differences with the board on
how to handle the data that it had assembled.
Along with Elwood Worcester and Gardner Murphy, Prince
led in the founding of the rival Boston Society for Psychical Research
in 1925 and became its research officer. While operating
out of Boston, he was responsible for a remarkable cure in the
multiple personality case of Doris Fischer and conducted important
investigations of the cases of ‘‘Patience Worth’’ and
the Antigonish poltergeist. His excellent work led to his twice
being elected president of the Society for Psychical Research,
London, in 1930 and 1931. He died on August 7, 1934.
In eighteen years of research with the American Society for
Psychical Research and the Society for Psychical Research,
London, Prince investigated many different kinds of paranormal
phenomena in hundreds of cases, but in spite of his doubts
about certain phenomena, he eventually concluded that a case
for the reality of telepathy and clairvoyance has been ‘‘absolutely
and scientifically proved.’’ In addition, he was inclined to belief
in survival of personality after death and considered the evidence
‘‘very promising.’’
Price-Mars, Jean Encyclopedia of Occultism & Parapsychology • 5th Ed.
1240
Sources
Berger, Arthur S., and Joyce Berger. The Encyclopedia of
Parapsychology and Psychical Research. New York Paragon
House, 1991.
Pleasants, Helene, ed. Biographical Dictionary of Parapsychology.
New York Helix Press, 1964.
Prince, Walter Franklin. The Enchanted Boundary A Survey to
Negative Reactions to Claims of Psychical Phenomena. Boston Boston
Society for Psychic Research, 1930.
———. Leonard and Soule Experiments. Boston Boston Society
for Psychical Research, 1929.
———. Noted Witnesses for Psychic Occurrences. Boston Boston
Society for Psychical Research, 1928. Reprint, New Hyde
Park, N.Y. University Books, 1963.
———. The Psychic in the House. Boston Boston Society for
Psychical Research, 1926.
Prince, Walter Franklin, and Lydia W. Allison. The Case of
Patience Worth. Boston Boston Society for Psychical Research,
1927. Reprint, New Hyde Park, N.Y. University Books, 1964.
Smith, Anson J. ‘‘Walter Franklin Prince.’’ Tomorrow (Summer
1955).
Walter Franklin Prince A Tribute to His Memory. Boston Boston
Society for Psychical Research, 1935.’’