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Hamilton Family accrual
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1.9 m of graphic materials (16 boxes)
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Archival description area
Name of creator
Dr. T.G. (Thomas Glendenning) Hamilton was born in Agincourt, Ontario in 1873. In 1883, his family moved west to Saskatchewan and was among the first pioneer families to settle in Saskatoon. After his father died in 1891, his mother moved the family to Winnipeg where young T.G. Hamilton attended Manitoba College. He graduated from medical school in 1903, completed his internship at the Winnipeg General Hospital in 1904, and commenced practice in the district of Elmwood within Winnipeg in 1905. In 1915, he was President of the Manitoba Medical Association. Hamilton also served on the Public School Board for nine years, one year as chairman. He was also elected a member of the provincial legislature in 1914-1915. In 1918, Hamilton investigated paranormal activity briefly, but began in earnest in 1920 after the death of his three year old twin son Arthur. His aim was the investigation of paranormal phenomena such as rappings, psychokinesis, ectoplasms, and materializations under scientific conditions that would minimize any possibility of error. His work became known in the United Kingdom, Europe, and the United States. Between 1926 and 1935, he presented eighty-six lectures and wrote numerous articles that were published in Canada and abroad. Dr. Hamilton's wife, Lillian, carried on his paranormal experimentations following his death in 1935.
Name of creator
Lillian May Forrester was born in 1880 to Samantha Rixon and John MacFarlane Forrester in Melrose, a tiny farming community in Tyendinaga Township, Hastings County, Ontario, near Belleville. The family moved to southern Manitoba in 1881, settling on a farm in the Aux Marais district, near the town of Emerson and the U.S. border. She served for a while as a school teacher, and in 1905 graduated from the Winnipeg General Hospital School of Nursing (now the School of Nursing of the University of Manitoba). She was an active member of King Memorial United Church for many years and was a life member and past president of the Women's Missionary Society. Mrs. Hamilton was also a past president of the Medical Faculty Women's Club, University of Manitoba, and was a member of the Women's Musical Club.
In 1906, she married Dr. Thomas Glendenning (T.G.) Hamilton in Elmwood. In 1909, their daughter Margaret Lillian was born; in 1911, their son Glen Forrester; and in 1915, their twin sons Arthur Lamont and James Drummond. The loss of Arthur in 1919 to the influenza epidemic encouraged the Hamiltons to engage with questions of life after death, and eventually establish the well-known Hamilton experiments in psychic phenomena, including the holding and recording of séances at their home, and other psychical research. Starting in the 1920s, Lillian not only helped organize and participated in the séances, but also carried out a large part of the secretarial work of researching, filing and analyzing the records; she also helped to prepare many of Dr. Hamilton's papers and articles. After T.G. Hamilton’s death in 1935, she carried on the séances and psychical research. From 1939-1940, she conducted two series of experiments with Hugh Reed, including several previous members of the Hamilton group, notably the medium Mary Marshall (aka “Dawn”). Lillian Hamilton brought the Hamilton investigations to a close in 1944, by which time the group had largely dispersed.
With her youngest son James D. Hamilton, Lillian completed the manuscript about the T.G. Hamilton research which was published as Intention and Survival in 1942. Until Lillian's health began to fail in 1955, she continued study of psychic matters and undertook the indexing and care of the Hamilton records. In the early 1950s, she and her daughter Margaret Hamilton Bach began collaborating on the work that was eventually published by Margaret as Is Survival A Fact? in 1969. Lillian died on 18 September 1956 in Concordia Hospital in Winnipeg.
Scope and content
Although more than ninety percent of the collection is related to Dr. T.G. Hamilton's investigations of psychic phenomena, the collection is of interest not only to the psychic researcher. Anyone interested in social characteristics of Winnipeg during the Post-World War I and Depression periods will find these records of local historical events a rich resource.
Medical and political historians may also find these records worth investigation. They cover the period from 1915 to 1935, an important period of medical discovery and of social legislation in Manitoba. The materials documenting Dr. Hamilton's medical and political careers complement the records of the Winnipeg General Hospital held by the Provincial Archives of Manitoba and the Legislative Scrapbooks of the Manitoba Legislative Building.
The records relating to psychic experimentation span the years 1918 to 1945. The highly-controlled experiments conducted by the Hamilton Group are important in that they form a solid bridge between late nineteenth and early twentieth century research and the developments of the last twenty-five years.
The subject matter of the records includes "rappings", clairvoyance, trance states and trance charts, telekinesis, wax molds, bell-ringing, trance scripts and visions, as well as teleplasmic manifestations.
The records are in various formats--scrapbooks, seance attendance records and registers, affidavits, automatic writings, correspondence, speeches and lectures, newspaper clippings, journal articles, books, photographic records, glass plate negatives and positives, prints, slides, tapes, manuscripts and promotional materials related to major publications. The records have been arranged chronologically in order to show the progressive development of the group, the mediums and Dr. Hamilton's relationships with persons of similar interests.
These personal contacts are worthy of special note. People of all walks of life and from all levels of intellectual attainment are represented. The mementos and correspondence include the signatures of such international figures as Alexander Fleming, Sir Oliver Lodge, Lady Arthur Conan Doyle, The Rt. Hon. William Lyon Mackenzie King, Theodore Besterman, Nandor Fodor, Dr. Bruce Chown and Dr. R.G. Crandon.
All loose photographic media have been cross-referenced numerically according to the experiment they represent. These photos are held as PC 12. The photographs are entirely concerned with seances, experiments, teleplasms, levitations and other related activities and were taken by a battery of cameras specially placed and triggered for use during the various seances conducted in the Hamilton home at 185 Henderson Highway in Winnipeg.
Obituary notices are to be found in Alumni Bulletins, journal articles and correspondence.
Immediate source of acquisition
The Hamilton Family fonds was donated to the University of Manitoba by Mrs. Margaret Hamilton Bach in sections over a thirteen month period. Mrs. Bach, daughter of Dr. Hamilton, was most cooperative and often described in full detail the contents of each accession. Such descriptions, considering the complexities involved, the lack of a well-defined filing system, and the scattered placement of the materials throughout the family, proved very helpful.
The collection was deeded to the University by Mrs. Bach on December 6, 1979. On January 4, 1980, a team from the National Archival Appraisal Board appraised the collection, and on March 26, 1980 it was certified by the Canadian Cultural Property Export Review Board as having outstanding cultural and historical value to Canada.
A.86-56 (Margaret Hamilton Bach) was the last accession added to the collection. This accession added, largely, correspondence, photographic material, cassette tapes and information on modern psychic study.
PC 12 is arranged into four different media types: 2" slides; glass lantern slides; negatives and prints. The prints are further divided into stereo and non-stereo format. Each media type is arranged according to the initial slide register, Box 1 Folder 1. While there are both errors of omission and commission with this register, it is still the best register available. (A breakdown of the slide numbers for each group in the teleplasm series according to this register is provided below.) The 2" slides have been organized according to this register. Each slide was previously numbered and that numbering system has been maintained. The glass slides mirror the 2" slides as closely as possible. (Where glass slides and/or negatives are held illustrating similar, but not identical, shots of the 2" slides, numbers in brackets  are provided. Additional information is also indicated on the sleeve of each item indicating a variation on the 2" slide such as [CLOSE UP], [ENLARGED FIELD] or [RESTRICTED FIELD]. ) The same is true for all the other formats, although the prints follow the photographic register (Box 1 Folder 2) for the teleplasmic section. There are three basic divisions in the Hamilton experiments: Telekinesis; Trance; and, Psychic experimentation (Teleplasm).
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Terms governing use, reproduction, and publication
No part of the collection is restricted, although researchers are to use the positive prints duplicated from the original glass-plate negatives rather than the originals due to fragility.
A finding aid can be generated from the fonds-level description.
Generated finding aid
The photographic glass plates, prints, slides and cassettes listed as PC 12 and TC 70 respectively have been physically removed and are held with the Archives photographic and tape collections. Some prints, inextricably attached to the texts and scripts, remain with the material which they illustrate. Related books and periodicals, listed as Appendix I, have been classified and added to the Rare Book Collection of Archives & Special Collections. Of further interest to the researcher may be MSS 107 and TC 71, the Eileen Sykes collection as well as A-92-24, the Nancy Fodor collection.
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Dates of creation, revision and deletion
July 1980, Revised February 1995