The Oldest Group of Mediums In The United States
The Oldest Formal Association of those practicing Mediumship in the United States was formed in Philadelphia in 1852.
Hailing themselves as the Oldest in the World, First Association of Spiritualists in Philadelphia began meeting in 1852 and formally signed their constitution in 1867.
Spiritualism was and is a religious organization and those who practice it, regularly hold gatherings to communicate with the dead. Many mediums today are practicing Spiritualists.
The First Association of Spiritualists in Philadelphia
chartered in 1867, Oldest in the World
Lilydale of New York is commonly seen as the oldest spiritualist gathering, though Philadelphia's Group is the legal first.
Lilydale was officially formed out of the First Spiritualist Society of Laona, which started meeting in 1855, a mere three years after Philadelphia. While Lilydale may be the oldest continual meeting of mediums, they are not the oldest. Lilydale didn't have their constitution together until 1893, nearly 26 years after Philadelphia's group.
Lilydale, and the Cassadaga Lake Association as they were called then, formed around the same time as Philadelphia's First Association and likely began meeting around similar time periods. In that era, by some estimates, there were over 60 mediumship circles regularly meeting in Philadelphia and 150 or more in New York.
Philadelphia was a hot spot for mediumship all throughout the 1850's and 1870's drawing in experts from all around the world.
At that time, live readings were conducted in the Redding Terminal Market area, in Fishtown and surrounding communities, and all over Northern Liberties. One of the most famous mediums and mediumship researchers of the time, Helena Blavatsky, actually took up residence in Philadelphia for a while, living in locations both in Northern Liberties and University City.
Today there is one remaining formal group still practicing in Philadelphia at:
Celestial Spiritualist Church
421 North Preston Street
Philadelphia, PA 19104
Most of the other mediums in the area currently practice individually or in groups outside of their formal spiritualist church network.
For a list of other things Philadelphia is known for as the first, visit USHistory.org.
For professionally practicing mediums in the area, view my listing here.
Amanda Linette Meder
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Sources: Book, Talking to the Other Side: a History of Modern Spiritualism, Todd Jay Leonard, Book, When God Taps You on the Shoulder, Gloria S. Bush, Lillian Cosby, Private Research, Collection 3089, Historical Society of Pennsylvania