Madame Ouija, Bolshevik of the Spirit World

The huge fad in 1920: ouija boards. Americans went crazy trying to communicate with the deceased and the great beyond.

This January 1920 article hyperbolized and satirized the trend:

Telephones are rapidly falling into the discard; men, women and children ring up Hyperspace and talk with their ancestors and their pre-natal souls. Books are being written with the aid of “controls”; the stock market has abandoned the ticker for the ouija pointer; the weather forecaster has tossed his maps and wind measures into the river and gets his predictions from the spirits.

Why did the board surge in sales then? Likely because of the era’s tumult, wrote Linda Rodriguez McRobbie for Smithsonian Magazine:

It’s quite logical then the board would find its greatest popularity in uncertain times, when people hold fast to belief and look for answers from just about anywhere, especially cheap, DIY oracles. The 1910s and ’20s, with the devastations of World War I and the manic years of the Jazz Age and prohibition, witnessed a surge in Ouija popularity.

In May 1920, no less a chronicler of the American way than Norman Rockwell painted a couple with a ouija board for a Saturday Evening Post cover:

Madame Ouija, Bolshevik of the Spirit World: Sinister Suggestion by a Worshipper of the Psychic Goddess That There’s a Slight Impediment in Her Veracity

Published: Sunday, January 11, 1920

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