Friday, July 15, 2022

A Game of Planchette

paper with ouija board notesRauner Special Collections Library is home to a wide assortment of papers related to the Cornish Colony, a New Hampshire artists' collective active through the end of World War I. Typically, we focus on the big names associated with the colony, like Augustus Saint-Gaudens and Maxfield Parrish. Today however, we're looking at an instance in the lives of the children in residence.

In some papers belonging to Lucia Fairchild Fuller (1870-1924), a painter and member of the colony, there is a set of notes from a ouija board session she conducted with her daughter Clara and other children. Most of the answers provided by the game are next to nonsense, but one particular piece sticks out. When asked to name a set of kittens, the planchette spells out "Drown it, darn it, drat it, and damn it." It's a perfect little piece of creepiness, and apparently it stuck around. According to a note from Clara's own daughter:

'Planchette' - (or the 'Oija [sic] Board' as we call it now-) was a game loved by the children of Cornish... Lucia Fuller joined the game and the saucer rapidly named the kittens 'DROWN IT; DRAT IT; DARN IT; DAMN IT' - an event my mother (CBT) spoke of until the end of her life.

The Fairchild-Fuller family papers are full of artwork, diaries, gossipy letters, and other interesting odds and ends. To read the full notes from this game of Planchette, ask for MS-152, Box 10, Folder 41.