Louisa E. Rhine papers, 1890-1983

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Rhine, Louisa E., 1891-1983
5 Linear Feet
3,800 Items
Collection ID:


Scope and content:

The papers of Louisa E. Rhine span the years 1890 to 1983 and include journals, correspondence, writings, genealogical papers, notebooks, pictures, and miscellaneous papers relating principally to her work and research with her husband J.B. Rhine in the field of parapsychology, including the impact of this work on their personal and professional lives.

This impact is shown in Louisa Rhine's journals (1903-1982). The journal entries while not routinely made are nevertheless often lengthy, descriptive, and self-revealing. They document her school days at the University of Chicago, and her courtship, marriage, and relationship with J.B. Rhine. Parts of four journals describe their struggle to understand and to formulate a personal religious philosophy. Others describe their family life and incidents relating to the rearing of their four children. Their work in the Parapsychology Laboratory at Duke, as well as the Laboratory's relationship with the Duke administration are described. The journals include passages from some of J.B. Rhine's letters, interspersed with notes relating to some of Louisa Rhine's studies. Another journal includes excerpts from the other journals.

Correspondence forms the bulk of the collection, and is divided into four categories: personal, special, parapsychological, and business. The most voluminous is personal correspondence primarily from two of the Rhine's children, Sara (Rhine) Feather and Rosemary Rhine. Also included, however, are letters from other family members and friends.

The special correspondence consists of selected correspondence files arranged alphabetically by the correspondent's last name. The correspondents include: Ella (Long) Weckesser, Louisa Rhine's mother; Sylvia (Weckesser) Newcombe and Miriam (Weckesser) Whaley, sisters of Louisa Rhine; and Barry S. Siegal and William R. Birge, friends of the Rhines, who were officers during World War II.

The parapsychology correspondence includes letters from people in the United States and other countries who wrote to Louisa Rhine relating psychic phenomena either they or someone they knew had experienced. Some of these experiences were reported by Dr. Rhine in her publications.

Business correspondence is chiefly from other scientists in the field of psychical research, information relating to the work and funding of the Foundation for Research on the Nature of Man, and information concerning the publication and translation of some of Louisa Rhine's works.

The personal and business correspondence, reflects the Rhine's concerns about how psychical research would be carried out in the future. They wanted to make sure that an accurate accounting of the work that had begun at Duke under J.B. Rhine's guidance be told. To that end, Louisa Rhine worked during the last years of her life to finish the work recounting as she said "J.B.'s attempt to find the 'something lost behind the ranges.'" Her efforts resulted in Something Hidden which was published posthumously in 1983.

The business correspondence also describes the strained relationship between Duke University and the Rhines' work both at the Parapsychology Laboratory, when it was officially a part of Duke University, and later when the Laboratory was transferred into the Institute of Parapsychology under the auspices of the Foundation for Research on the Nature of Man.

The writings series contains both parapsychological and other works. The parapsychological writings include a chronological listing of J.B. and Louisa Rhine's works and of critiques and reviews of works by and about them. Also included is information about the Anpsi Project (psychic abilities in animals); miscellaneous notes kept by Louisa and J.B. Rhine; an index to articles in the Journal of Parapsychology (1937-1967); transcripts of interviews with J.B. Rhine; miscellaneous speeches, lectures, and articles relating to the work of the Rhines and others in the parapsychology field; and articles and memorials to honor J.B. Rhine after his death.

Other writings include short stories and poetry by Louisa and J.B. Rhine; anecdotes relating to the Rhines and their children; and attempts by the Rhines to write a work about "Our Life Together." There are some fragments of short stories by Louisa Rhine, some giving the author's name as "Louise Long" a pseudonym adopted when they lived in Massachusetts. One of them "In the Crucible of Life" is apparently a true story about Louisa and J.B. Rhine, although their names have been changed in the story. A note in this section by the Rhine's daughter, Sara (Rhine) Feather (denoted by SRF) tells something about her mother's writings.

Biographical / historical:
Louisa E. Rhine
Date Event
1891, Nov. 9
Born, Louisa Ella Weckesser, on an island in the Niagara River, New York State.
Bachelor of Science in botany, University of Chicago.
Married Joseph Banks Rhine.
Master of Science in botany, University of Chicago.
Earned Ph.D. in botany, University of Chicago.
Research fellow in plant physiology at the Boyce Thompson Institute for Plant Research in Yonkers, N.Y.
Taught Latin at West Virginia University, Morgantown.
Moved to Durham, N.C.
Involved in raising her family and civic affairs.
Began active research at the Duke University Parapsychology Laboratory.
Research resulted in the publication of 18 scientific reports in the Journal of Parapsychology and 6 books.
Published Hidden Channels of the Mind.
President of the British Society for Psychical Research.
1983, Mar. 17
Died, Durham, N.C.
Something Hidden, detailing the history of J.B. Rhine's research, published posthumously.
Joseph Banks Rhine
Date Event
1895, Sept. 29
Born, Waterloo, Juniata County, Pennsylvania.
ca. 1915-1917
Attended Ohio Northern University and the College of Wooster as a preministerial student.
Discharged from the U.S. Marine Corps.
Married Louisa Ella Weckesser.
Bachelor of Science in botany, University of Chicago.
Master of Science in botany, University of Chicago.
Research fellow in plant physiology at the Boyce Thompson Institute for Plant Research, Yonkers, New York.
Taught plant physiology, West Virginia University in Morgantown.
Ph.D. in botany, University of Chicago.
Worked with Dr. Franklin Prince at the Boston Society for Psychical Research.
Came to Duke University to work with Dr. William McDougall, who had just been named head of the Psychology Dept.
Offered an instructorship in philosophy and psychology at Duke with understanding he could do psychical research as well.
Under sponsorship of McDougall, founded Parapsychology Laboratory which at first was part of Duke Psychology Department.
Published Extra-Sensory Perception.
ca. 1935
Laboratory was set apart from the Dept. of Psychology, given some financial support and became known as the Parapsychology Laboratory of Duke University.
Launched the Journal of Parapsychology.
Foundation for Research on the Nature of Man was established under Rhine's guidance.
Retired from Duke and the Duke Parapsychology Laboratory was transferred into the Institute of Parapsychology under the sponsorship of the Foundation for Research on the Nature of Man.
1980, Feb. 20
Died, Hillsborough, N.C.
Acquisition information:
The papers of Louisa E. Rhine, parapsychologist, author, and wife of Joseph Banks Rhine, were acquired by the Rubenstein Library by gift, in 1985 and 1987.
Processing information:

Processed by: Duke University. David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library Staff

Completed ca. 1987

Encoded by Stephen Douglas Miller

Physical location:
For current information on the location of these materials, please consult the Library's online catalog.
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Describing Archives: A Content Standard


Click on terms below to find related finding aids on this site. For other related materials in the Duke University Libraries, search for these terms in the Catalog.

Women -- Diaries
Psychial research
Women scientists
Duke University. Parapsychology Laboratory
Foundation for Research on the Nature of Man.
Rhine family
Weckesser family
Long family
Rhine, J. B. (Joseph Banks), 1895-1980


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[Identification of item], The Louisa E. Rhine Papers, David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Duke University.