Mina "Margery" Crandon (1888–November 1, 1941) was the wife of a wealthy Boston surgeon and socialite, Dr. Le Roi Goddard Crandon. She became well known as a physical medium who also claimed that she channeled her dead brother, Walter Stinson.
Crandon grew up on a farm in Canada but moved to Boston as a young woman. While working as a secretary of a local church in Boston, she met and married Earl Rand, a grocer. They had one son. She later met Dr. Crandon when she entered a Dorchester, Massachusetts, hospital for an unspecified operation, possibly appendicitis. Dr. Crandon was her surgeon. She and Dr. Crandon crossed paths again later that year when Dr. Crandon served as a lieutenant commander and head of surgical staff in a New England Naval hospital during the First World War and she served as a civilian volunteer ambulance driver who transported casualties to the hospital. Mina sued for divorce from Earl P. Rand on January 1918 and became Dr. Crandon's 3rd wife a few months later. She moved to Dr. Crandon's house at 10 Lime Street, with her son. Dr. Crandon later adopted her son and changed his name to John Crandon.
Scientific American 
Crandon began experimenting with séances as a hobby, possibly to distract her older husband from a morbid obsession with mortality. On July 23, 1924 her name was submitted as a candidate for a prize offered by Scientific American magazine to any medium who could demonstrate telekinetic ability under scientific controls. With a doctor as husband, Crandon was well prepared for the challenge, and her charm and lack of interest in personal monetary reward made her seem honest to the public eye. Her séance circles included members of the middle class as well as luminary members of the Boston upper class and Ivy League elite. Famous supporters such as Sir Arthur Conan Doyle gave her significant credibility. She became so popular that her prayers were read by the US Army. The Scientific American prize committee consisted of William McDougall, professor of psychology at Harvard; Harry Houdini, the famous professional magician and escape artist, who later would debunk her as a fraud; Walter Franklin Prince, American psychical researcher; Dr. Daniel Frost Comstock, who introduced technicolor to film; and Hereward Carrington, amateur magician, psychical researcher, author, and manager for the Italian medium Eusapia Palladino.
Mr. Malcolm Bird, an employee of Scientific American (not on the Prize Committee) notified Houdini of the possibility that "Margery" might win the prize. Houdini and other prize committee members attended two séances in Boston at Margery (and her husband's) home on July 23rd and 24th, 1924. Orson Munn, publisher of the magazine, was persuaded by Houdini at the last minute to delete an article praising Margery.
They visited again on August 23rd, 1924 for a few days. On the August visit, Houdini exposed the mechanics used during the séance, along with other people involved in creating the noises during the séance. Houdini asked her to wear an apparatus which prevented her from using her legs, etc. Also, Dr. Comstock asked her to wear a similar device called, a "median control". She agreed. Surprisingly, Margery won $10,000 in prize money, although she was not able to produce the effects of previous séances. 
Crandon's husband was known for displaying nude photographs of her in her mediumship sessions. Mina Crandon was described as a very beautiful lady who men found "too attractive for her own good." The psychical investigator Malcolm Bird actively conspired with the Crandons in stage-managing the séances in an attempt to have a sexual relationship with Mina. Reports, however, suggest that Mina found Bird repulsive. Instead she had amorous feelings for the psychical researcher [[Hereward Carrington],] whom she had an affair with. Carrington also borrowed money from Mina he was unable to repay. It is easy to imagine these factors could have biased his judgement regarding her mediumship.
There was much disagreement among the committee, and in the end, only Carrington voted in favor of Crandon. However, committee Secretary Malcom Bird leaked to the press that the committee was leaning toward a positive vote. Incensed, committee member Harry Houdini returned from abroad to submit his dissenting vote. His efforts to discredit Crandon became a part of his stage act, and he reproduced her effects for audiences as well as publishing a pamphlet that described how she achieved some of her more basic effects.
A later review by Dr. Joseph Banks Rhine lent further insight into Crandon's performances. Dr. Rhine was able to observe some of her trickery in the dark when she used luminous objects. He refused to test her further, and postulated that she may have been subject to a personality disorder. However, Crandon continued to conduct séances and improve the production of effects. An English teacher, Grant Code, became a frequent visitor to the Crandon home and was enthralled by Crandon's later performances. Ultimately, he too was able to duplicate them. Code's exchange of letters with psychic investigator Walter Franklin Prince regarding Margery is currently held in the archives of the ASPR.
An elaborate investigation was held by a committee of Harvard scholars. Finally, the Harvard committee also pronounced Crandon as fraudulent. On 30 June 1925, one of the Harvard investigators saw Crandon draw three objects from her lap. One object was shaped like a glove or flat hand, one resembled a baby's hand, and the third was described but not identified.
The Society for Psychical Research wanted further investigation. A committee of three Professors, Knight Dunlap, Henry C. McComas and Robert Williams Wood were sent to Boston. Crandon had a luminous star attached to her forehead, identifying the location of her face in the dark. After a few minutes a narrow dark rod appeared over a luminous checkerboard which had been placed on the table opposite Crandon. It moved from side to side and picked up an object. As it passed in front of Wood he lightly touched it with the tip of his finger and followed it back to a point very near Crandon's mouth. Wood thought it probable she was holding the rod by her teeth. He took hold of the tip and very quietly pinched it. It felt like a knitting needle covered with one or two layers of soft leather. Though the committee had been warned that touching the ectoplasm could result in the illness or death of the medium, neither Crandon nor the "ectoplasm" rod showed any reaction to Wood's actions. At the end of the sitting Wood dictated his actions to the stenographer. Upon hearing this Crandon gave a shriek and fainted. She was carried out of the room and the committee was asked to depart. Wood was never invited again.
Crandon's "teleplasmic hand" that allegedly appeared in photographs was said to resemble sewn tracheae[clarification needed]. Allegations were made by some conjuring historians of Houdini and mediumship that her surgeon husband had altered her genitalia and this was where she concealed her teleplasmic hand. The "hand" did not move after its appearance on the table before her. It lay still as if it were dead and then supposedly vanished. She refused to wear tights, or to be internally searched, but no proof that Crandon had been surgically altered has ever been published. The 'hand' only appeared when Crandon sat next to her husband, who held or controlled her right hand. There are photos of the alleged teleplasmic hand and its position. It appears to be coming from Mina Crandon's groin. Various members of the audience in the séances touched the hand and described it as dead. It was also suggested that Crandon's husband may have sneaked it into the séance room. The "teleplasmic hand" was later exposed as a trick when biologists examined the hand and found it to be made of a piece of carved animal liver.
Crandon's reputation was also damaged when a fingerprint left on wax ostensibly by her channelled spirit, her deceased brother, Walter, was discovered to belong to her dentist by a member of the Boston Society for Psychical Research. Her dentist divulged that he had taught her how to make these prints. Despite this, Crandon continued to perform until her early death in 1941, at about the age of 53.
In 1930, Malcolm Bird attempted to publish an article in the ASPR explaining that Crandon asked for Bird's assistance in a plot to trick Houdini in 1924, and expressing doubts about Bird. Bird's article was censored just before publication, and he was expelled from the ASPR.
- Houdini!!!: The Career of Ehrich Weiss by Kenneth Silverman, Harper Collins Publishers, New York, 1996
- Mediums, Mystics, & the Occult by Milbourne Christopher, Thomas Y. Crowell Co., 1975
- The Secret Life of Houdini: The Making of America's First Super Hero by William Kalush and Larry Sloman, Atria Books, 2006
- Christopher, Milbourne (1969). HOUDINI: The Untold Story. Thomas Y. Crowell Company. pp. 187–199. ISBN LC Card: 69-11829 Check
- William Kalush, Larry Ratso Sloman The Secret Life of Houdini: The Making of America's First Superhero 2006, pp. 419-420
- Houdini's prototype Margery bell box resides in the magic collection of Ken Klosterman Sr.
- Houdini on Magic by Harry Houdini, Dover Publications, 1953. Contains a reprint of the Margery pamphlet
- Margery by Thomas Tietze, Harper & Row Publishers, New York, 1973
- Doctor Wood by William Seabrook, Harcourt, Brace and Co., 1941. Chapter 17, Wood as a Debunker of Scientic Cranks and Frauds-and His War with the Mediums
- The Spiritualists: The Passion for the Occult in the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries by Ruth Brandon, Albert A. Knope, Inc, 1983, page 188
- Francis Russell The Knave of Boston: & Other Ambiguous Massachusetts Characters Quinlan Press, 1987, p. 159
- Ghosts, Apparitions and Poltergeists: An Exploration of the Supernatural through History
- Houdini!!!: The Career of Ehrich Weiss by Kenneth Silverman, Harper Collins Publishers, New York, 1996. p. 137.
- Bawdy Technologies and the Birth of Ectoplasm by L. Anne Delgado
- Mina Crandon & Harry Houdini: The Medium and The Magician
- Library of Congress Archives of newspaper articles regarding Houdini and Mina Crandon
- Interview with Anna Thurlow, great granddaughter of "Margery" - Wild About Harry (Houdini) blog
Further reading 
- Margery by Thomas Tietze, Harper & Row Publishers, New York, 1973.
- A Review of the Margery Case. The American Journal of Psychology, Volume 37, pp. 431–41 by Franklin Walter Prince
- Ghosts I Have Talked With by Henry C. McComas, Williams and Wilkins Co., 1937.
- Final Séance: The Strange Friendship Between Houdini and Conan Doyle by Massimo Polidoro, Prometheus Books, New York, 2001.
- Secrets of the Psychics: Investigating Paranormal Claims by Massimo Polidoro, Prometheus Books, New York, 2003.
- The Secret Life of Houdini: The Making of America's First Super Hero by William Kalush and Larry Sloman, Atria Books, New York, 2006.
- The Elmwood Visitation by Carolyn Gray, Scirocco Drama, 2007.