J.B. Rhine

Letters 1923–1939: ESP and the Foundations of Parapsychology


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About the Book

During the 1930s a new approach to exploring human consciousness began at Duke University with Professor J. B. Rhine’s experimental research on extra-sensory perception, or ESP. His findings on telepathy, clairvoyance, precognition and psychokinesis challenged conventional disbelief. Rhine’s findings and his first popular book, New Frontiers of the Mind, ignited excitement and controversy—among not only scientists but the public at large.

Rhine’s letters chronicle his efforts to find reliable evidence of psychic ability, from the séance room to psychic animals and finally to a university research laboratory.

Covering the years 1923–1939, they reveal a gripping story of groundbreaking research, told in the words of the main player as he worked with his team, subjects, critics and supporters alike.

About the Author(s)

The late J. B. Rhine founded Duke University’s parapsychology lab, the Parapsychological Association and the Journal of Parapsychology.

Barbara Ensrud is a freelance journalist and author based in Durham, North Carolina. Her articles have appeared in numerous periodicals including the Wall Street Journal and online Psi Encyclopedia. A member of the board of directors of the Rhine Research Center since 2014, she served as president of the board from 2016 to 2020.

Sally Rhine Feather, the eldest daughter of J.B. and Louisa Rhine, worked as a clinical psychologist for several decades and in 1995 served as executive director of the Rhine Research Center and continues today as executive director emeritus. In 2010 she received the Outstanding Career Award from the international Parapsychological Association. She lives in Durham, North Carolina.

Bibliographic Details

J.B. Rhine
Edited by Barbara Ensrud and Sally Rhine Feather
Foreword by Larry Dossey, M.D.

Format: softcover (7 x 10)
Pages: 555
Bibliographic Info: 12 photos, glossary, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2021
pISBN: 978-1-4766-8466-6
eISBN:  978-1-4766-4266-6
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments v
Foreword (Larry Dossey, M.D.) 1
Preface (Sally Rhine Feather) 3
Introduction (Barbara Ensrud) 5
Selected Letters, 1923–1939
1923–1929: A Change in Direction 9
1930–1933: The Work Begins 73
1934: A Turning Point 99
1935: The Parapsychological Laboratory at Duke 165
1936: Successes and Advances 255
1937: The New Frontier for Science: The Human Mind 363
1938: A Year of Challenges 433
1939: End of an Era 533
Epilogue 538
Glossary of Terms and Acronyms 539
Bibliography 541
Index 543

Book Reviews & Awards

• Winner—Parapsychological Association Book Award

• Best Book of 2021—The Windbridge Institute, LLC

• “Valuable…fascinating…recommended”—Choice

• “This remarkable collection of J. B. Rhine’s letters provides a panorama of his early interest in psychic phenomena and its evolution over three decades. It is marked by his careful articulation and descriptions, his modesty and sense of humor, as well as his open-mindedness was balanced by his scientific analysis… This opus is of inestimable value as it details the scientific and intellectual progress made by, arguably, one of the 20th century’s most important pioneers of science.”—Stanley Krippner, editor of the Advances in Parapsychologial Research series

• “This book delivers what its title promises…The editors have done a fine job selecting letters for inclusion in this volume, which provides a detailed look at developments of the 1920s and 1930s, and it should not be missed by anyone concerned with this phase in the history of the field.”—Journal of the Society for Psychical Research