The Voice Box
Mrs. Elizabeth Blake - Physical Medium
Mrs Elizabeth Blake
Mrs Elizabeth Blake of Ohio, was a poor illiterate woman who lived on the Banks of the Ohio River in the town of Bradrick, Ohio. On the opposite bank was the town of Huntington, West Virginia. According to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, she was one of the most gifted and wonderful voice mediums that we have few records off.
Elizabeth was a religious woman and belonged to the local Methodist Church, from which, like others, she was expelled because of her mediumship. Prof. James H. Hyslop published a favourable report on her mediumship in the Proceedings of the American Society for Physical Research (ASPR) (vol. 7: 570-788). She is said to have repeatedly been tested by "scientists, physicians and Others" to which she is said to have submitted willingly to all their tests. As, however, no fraud was detected by these men, they failed to give their results to the rest of the world.
Two expert conjurers, David P. Abbott of the ASPR and E. A. Parsons, investigated Blake in 1906 and became convinced of the identity of the spirit communicators. Blake used a 2-foot long double trumpet; putting the small end to her ear and the larger one at that of the sitter, it appeared as if the voices came from her ear. If she covered the small end with her palm, the result was the same. The voices grew from whispers to such loudness that occasionally they were heard at a distance of 100 feet.
The endorsement by David P. Abbott is of particular importance, since he created a wonderful trick in which voices appeared to come from a teapot when the spout was held to an ear; the teapot also answered questions. With his expert experience of such illusions, Abbott would have been expected to discover any similar tricks by Spiritualist mediums.
Hyslop, who makes a not unusual confession of ignorance of ectoplasmic processes in the production of voice phenomena, says in his report: "The loudness of the sounds in some cases excludes the supposition that the voices are conveyed from the vocal chords to the trumpet. I have heard the sounds twenty feet away and could have heard them forty or fifty feet away, and Mrs. Blake's lips did not move." Wanting to know the mechanical process involved, he says, "I may be true that spirits are the first cause of the case, but there are steps in the process which intervene between their initiative and the ultimate result. It is that which creates the perplexity more that the supposition that spirits are in some way back of it all... The scientific man cannot see how spirits can institute a mechanical event without the use of a mechanical instrument."
Numerous sitters with Mrs. Blake had noted that while the medium was speaking, spirit voices were heard at the same time, and further, that the same spirits preserved the same personality and intonation of voice through the course of years
Elizabeth Blake died in 1920
Conan Doyle - The History of Spiritualism, Pages 158 - 161
Lewis Spence - Encyclopedia of Occultism and Parapsychology Part 1
American Society for Physical Research (ASPR) (vol. 7: 570-788).