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McIlwaine Quarterly Speaker Series – “Beyond the Veil: A History of Spiritualism”

Beyond the Veil: A History of Spiritualism

Presented by Katie Keckeisen

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. This presentation examines the emergence of this religious phenomenon, its connections to both 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.

About the Speaker

Katie is the local history librarian at the Topeka and Shawnee County Public Library. She holds a BA in Forensic Anthropology and History from Wichita State University and an MA in Museum Professions from Seton Hall University. Her thesis – “The Grinning Wall: History, Exhibition, and Application of the Hyrtl Skull Collection at the Mutter Museum” – has been cited in several published works. She has worked in museums and archives throughout the United States. Her work on the permanent exhibit “Becoming Johnson County” at the Johnson County Museum helped earn the exhibit an Award of Excellence from the American Association of State and Local History. Besides Spiritualism, Katie has studied and written about the history of death and funerary practices in the 18th and 19th centuries.

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

Doors open at 1:00pm
Program starts at 2:00pm
Open to the public
Free admission

Upcoming McIlwaine Speaker Series Topics-

May 18th & 19th – “Six Wichita Stories of Aviation” by Edward Phillips

August 10th – “The Women of Brown” by Donna Rae Pearson

November 9th – “Researching Your Home and the People Who Lived There” by Diana Starnes Dean