Richmond, Cora L(inn) V(ictoria)
The most famous American Spiritualist inspirational speaker
and healer, variously known under her married names as
Cora Scott, Cora Hatch, Cora L. V. Tappan, and Cora L. V.
Tappan-Richmond. She was born April 21, 1840, a noteworthy
event in that she had a veil (membrane) covering her face, an
event often seen as portending a psychically aware life. She was
named Cora, a seeress. Her family was attracted to Spiritualism
and in 1851, as a child of eleven, she resided some months in
the Spiritualist community headed by Adin Ballou at Hopedale
and at the ranch community at Waterloo, Wisconsin. Passing
into a trance while at Waterloo, she was controlled by the
spirit of young Ballou. Two years later, she was appearing as a
public speaker. At the age of sixteen she was famous, had traveled
throughout the United States, often lecturing with great
elocution before scientists on randomly-selected subjects.
She married while still a teen, but soon got a divorce because
of spousal abuse. She worked out of Baltimore for many years
prior to moving to England in 1873. While in England, she delivered
some three thousand lectures. Frank Podmore wrote of
her in his book Modern Spiritualism (2 vols., 1902),
‘‘That the flow of verbiage never fails is a small matter; Mrs.
Tappan’s trance-utterances surpass those of almost every other
automatist in that there is a fairly coherent argument throughout.
Two at least of the subjects sent to her in 1874 ‘The Origin
of Man’ and ‘The Comparative Influence of Science and Morality
on the Rise and Progress of Nations,’ may be presumed to
have been little familiar. But the speaker is never at a loss . . .
Again, we find none of the literary artifices by which ordinary
speakers are wont to give relief—there is no antithesis, no climax,
no irony or humour in any form. And the dead level of
style reflects a dead level of sentiment; there is no scorn or indignation,
no recognition of human effort and pain, no sense
of the mystery of things. The style is clear, as jelly is clear; it is
the proto-plasm of human speech; and it is flavoured throughout
with mild, cosmic emotions.
‘‘Frequently at the close of an address Mrs. Tappan would
recite an impromptu poem, again on a subject chosen at the
moment by the audience. Some of these poems are strikingly
melodious, and it is interesting to note how the melody continually
overpowers the sense.’’
After her return to America, Richmond married William
Richmond and settled in Chicago. She pastored the First Society
of Spiritualists and he operated as her publisher and book
Encyclopedia of Occultism & Parapsychology • 5th Ed. Richmond, Cora L(inn) V(ictoria)
agent. From her platform in Chicago she became one of the
movement’s most famous leaders. In 1892, she officiated at the
funeral of Nettie Colburn Maynard (also known as Henrietta
S. Maynard), the medium who had worked with Abraham Lincoln.
The next year she assisted in the founding of the National
Spiritualist Association of Churches and became its first
vice president and a national lecturer through the first decades
of the new century.
She was equally renowned for her healing power and for her
trance utterances. Of her excursions into the spirit world in
trance she brought back recollections of an absorbing interest.
She died January 2, 1923.
Barrett, Harrison D. The Life and Work of Cora L. V. Richmond.
Chicago Hack & Anderson Printers, 1895.
Melton, J. Gordon. Religious Leaders of America. Detroit Gale
Research, 1991.
Podmore, Frank. Modern Spiritualism. London Methuen,
1902. Reprinted as Mediums of the Nineteenth Century. New Hyde
Park, N.Y. University Books, 1963.
Richmond, Cora L. V. Discourses Through the Mediumship of
Mrs. Cora L. V. Tappan. Boston Colby & Rich, 1876. Reprint,
London, N.p., 1878.
———. My Experiments While out of the Body and My Return
after Many Days. Boston Christopher Press, 1915.
———. Psychosophy. Chicago The Author, 1888. Reprint,
Chicago Regan Printing House, 1915.
———. The Soul in Human Embodiment. Chicago Spiritualist
Publishing, 1887.