Joseph Osgood Barrett

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Joseph Osgood Barrett (April 13, 1823 – February 8, 1898) was a prominent medium, spiritualist and author. He wrote mainly about religion, but also about women's rights and even botany.

Born in Bangor, Maine into a Universalist family, Barrett studied to become a Universalist minister after experiencing trances and visions. He initially kept his spiritualist experiences and beliefs to himself, but eventually 'came out' to a congregation in Sycamore, Illinois, splitting the church. He would eventually be expelled from the Universalist ministry by the Illinois Convention in 1869 for his unorthodox beliefs.[1]

In the early 1860s, Barrett moved to Madison, Wisconsin where he became a lecturer, writer, and forestry expert, as well as an editor of the Chicago-based newspaper The Spiritual Republic. His writings included allusions to spiritualism as a form of telegraphy. Barrett supported Victoria Woodhull when in 1872, as President of the American Association of Spiritualism, she espoused a doctrine of "free love", which divided the church. Barrett published a defence of feminism the following year entitled Social Freedom: Marriage as it is, and as it Should be.[1]


  1. ^ a b John Benedict Buescher, The Other Side of Salvation: Spiritualism in the 19th Century (2004, Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations), pp. 120-21

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