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Collaborative Parahistorical Research Initiative

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Collaborative Parahistorical Research Initiative

(Details and Purpose)



Historical Society of Perry County (Pennsylvania)
Collaborative Parahistorical Research Initiative


One of the first questions from guests at one of the ten historical properties in our care is, “Is this place haunted?” For nearly a century the Historical Society of Perry County (Pennsylvania, USA) has been collecting and preserving the cultural heritage of our rural area. The Society owns numerous properties including two wooden covered bridges, two churches with attached graveyards, a grist mill, two fully restored homes from the 19th century, a one-room school house, a farm with several houses and outbuildings, and an 18th century tavern.


A series of unexplained events at several of the properties forced us to ask the same question, “Haunted?” One property seemed particularly active with reports of apparitions, strange lights at night, doors opening and closing, quiet voices, and objects being moved or missing. Caretakers reported sensations of physical contact and restricted family and friends from certain rooms. Being an organization that takes pride in accurate historic research the Society initiated studies based on the standard accepted scientific method of observation, hypotheses, test, refine, and develop theories.


We quickly discovered that paranormal research in general failed to follow normal controlled research protocols which resulted in findings that simply could not be accepted by main-stream and academic authorities. To make matters worse the field had been sensationalized for entertainment purposes resulting in skepticism by the public. Our own research indicated that over 90% of respondents believed in ghosts but also distrusted most written reports or televised depictions of the subject.


We questioned whether an historical research organization could conduct paranormal research without losing credibility and respect gained over the past century. We decided to handle the paranormal mystery the same as any other historical research – we would conduct our own investigation and build a database of information obtained by independent research by multiple organizations. Following the Scientific Method we would combine these independent data to develop hypotheses and theories of what was occurring at the properties. With all findings known only to the Society a totally unbiased report of findings would be developed.


Knowing little of paranormal research, we reached out for help. We developed a partnership with Cove Paranormal Research Society, a local organization that embraced our approach and respected the historical integrity of our properties and those who once occupied them. After initial investigations revealed perceived paranormal activity we enlisted the help of another local organization, Cumberland-Perry Paranormal, to assist us in research. Our Collaborative Paranormal Research Initiative was fleshed out and developed for implementation in 2015.


Numerous research teams would be enlisted to study our properties without any knowledge of previous findings. Only serious professionally-minded teams willing to share their findings would be considered and we would use as many different investigative techniques, methods, and tools as possible to build a vast research database. All independent participating teams would be given access to the database at the end of the test period to assist in the development of published results.


We are now seeking investigation partners in this unique research initiative. A modest donation is requested to help preserve our historical properties and fund the research initiative. If you would like to participate at one or several of our properties please complete the form at http://tinyurl.com/hsofpc


Dennis J. Hocker, Ph.D., President, Historical Society of Perry County


Historical Society Of Perry County

Cumberland Perry Paranormal