Pruden, Laura A. (d. 1939)
Slate-writing medium of Cincinnati, widow of a judge, who
practiced mediumship for well over half a century. She did not
go into trance. Hereward Carrington sat with her on October
27, 1925, and in his book, The Story of Psychic Science (1930), he
included an account of his experiences. After describing the result
of his preliminary examination of the table and the slates,
he stated that, at the medium’s request, he wrote two questions
on slips of paper, one addressed to Richard Hodgson, and the
other to his own father. He folded them up and placed one
upon the floor under the séance table, the other on a small
table to his right where it remained visible throughout the sitting,
until used.
Pruden, sitting on a very low rocking chair, thrust the pair
of slates, a small piece of slate pencil between them, through
the slit on the tablecloth, with her right hand under the table.
Her left hand rested in her lap and remained visible throughout
the séance.
Carrington continued
‘‘The first pair of slates remained under the table for about
half an hour, when they were removed and a brief message was
found written upon one of the inner surfaces, signed ‘‘R. Hodgson,’’
and answering my question, written upon the first slip.
These slates were then put to one side. I was then requested to
remove the first slip from under the séance table and place the
second one there. This I did. The second pair of slates was then
examined and held under the table in the same manner as the
first pair. At the end of about half an hour these were removed
and a general message from my ‘father’ was found upon them,
answering the question written upon the second slip. The slips
and slates I took with me, and now have them in my possession.’’
Carrington further stated
‘‘It is my opinion that, on any theory whatever, Pruden’s
slate-writing is a very remarkable performance. The table and
slates were certainly free from any previous preparation. She
certainly could not have seen the written questions before they
were placed on the floor under the séance table. She certainly
keeps up an animated conversation with her sitter throughout
the sitting. Her left hand is always visible and her body appears
to be practically stationary throughout. At no time does she
stoop to pick up anything from the floor.’’
Carrington advanced a theory as a hypothetical explanation
of the feat, but he himself admitted that his observations tended
to support the genuine character of the manifestation.
A series of articles which gave a favorable impression of Pruden’s
powers was published in the Journal of the American Society
for Psychical Research (1926–27). The British psychical researcher
Harry Price, in his report of séances held with Pruden
in London in 1925, withheld favorable pronouncement, as he
found fault with Pruden’s conditions. See also Journal of the Society
for Psychical Research (vol. 23, pp. 76, 97, 139; vol. 24,
p. 128). Pruden died March 10, 1939, at age 86.
Carrington, Hereward. The Story of Psychic Science. New
York Ives Washburn, 1931.