Charles Hoy Fort (August 6, 1874 – May 3, 1932) was an American writer and researcher who specialized in anomalous phenomena. The terms Fortean and Forteana are sometimes used to characterize various such phenomena. Fort’s books sold well and are still in print. His work continues to inspire admirers, who refer to themselves as “Forteans,” and has influenced some aspects of science fiction.
Fort’s collections of scientific anomalies, including The Book of the Damned (1919), influenced numerous science fiction writers with their skepticism and as sources of ideas. “Fortean” phenomena are events which seem to challenge the boundaries of accepted scientific knowledge, and the Fortean Times (founded as The News in 1973 and renamed in 1976) investigates such phenomena.
Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, often known as Madame Blavatsky; was a Russian occultist, philosopher, and author who co-founded the Theosophical Society in 1875. She gained an international following as the leading theoretician of Theosophy, the esoteric movement that the society promoted. Read more about Madame Blavatsky here.
Victoria Woodhull (September 23, 1838 – June 9, 1927), a medium and carnival show clairvoyant, was the first woman-owned Wall Street brokerage house, the first woman to address a Congressional committee and the first woman to run for president. She championed free love, believed that marriage was institutionalized slavery and supported paid sex work.
Canadian-born author, lecturer, astrologer and mystic Manly Hall was born on March 18, 1891. Hall is best known for his 1928 work The Secret Teachings of All Ages. Over his 70 year career, he gave thousands of lectures, including two at Carnegie Hall, and published over 150 volumes. In 1934, he founded The Philosophical Research Society in Los Angeles, which he dedicated to the “Truth Seekers of All Time,” with a research library, lecture hall and publishing house. See a video about Manly Hall at this link.
According to Mitch Horowitz, author of the critically acclaimed Occult America,the origins of the device known today as the Ouija Board can be traced back to the late 19th Century — although not reliably further back than that. Horowitz cites a March 28, 1886 article appearing in the Sunday supplement of the New York Daily Tribune entitled “A Mysterious Talking Board and Table over Which Northern Ohio is Agitated.” The article included an illustration and description of an early talking board very similar to today’s version.