Ruth Starkweather Doran

From Kook Science

Ruth Starkweather Doran
Born Ruth Starkweather
7 October 1873(1873-10-07)
Birch Run, Saginaw Co., Michigan
Spouse(s) Frank Chamberlin (m. 1894); Robert Henry Doran (m. 1902); George G. Gilder (m. 1921)
Children Ruth Mary Doran

Ruth Starkweather Doran was an American character analyst who was involved in early 1921 with the "experiment" of Thomas Lynn Bradford, who committed suicide in an alleged attempt to prove the existence of the afterlife, and which Doran claimed was accomplished through her psychic-receipt of his messages from beyond.

Press Coverage

Bradford "Spirit Communication" (1921)

"PRINCIPLES IN SPIRIT TEST" (from NEA article of 22 Feb. 1921)
  • N.E.A. (22 Feb. 1921), "Kills Self to Send Spirit Message; 'I've Got It,' Says Woman. Scientists and Spirits Are Stirred by the Great Adventure of Suicide Professor in Detroit.", Bismarck Tribune (Bismarck, ND): 6, 

    The world today awaits expectantly scientific in­vestigation of the startling adventure in spiritism of Prof. Thomas Lynn Bradford and Mrs. Ruth Starkweather Doran.

    Pro. Bradford killed himself at 9 on the night of Feb. 5 to make "the great adventure." He hoped to solve for all time the age-old problem of life after death by trying to communicate from beyond the grave with Mrs. Moran. Now she says that she hay re­ceived a message from him.

    Prof. Bradford, one time athlete and actor, turned in his later life to study­ing and writing on the occult. Finally he published a curious advertise­ment for "someone interested in spiritualistic science."

    This advertisement was answered by Mrs. Doran, member of one of Detroit's oldest, families, writer, lecturer and member of the Protestant Episco­pal church.

    The professor and Mrs. Doran held several conferences at her home.

    Professor Writes His Final Message and Then Kills Self by Taking Gas.

    Shortly afterward Prof. Bradford's body was found fully-dressed, in his gas-filled room. The unfinished manu­script of a book on which he had been working lay beside his typewriter. One half-written page was still in the machine, it read:

    "— and it is through scientific facts that I propose to demon­strate clearly the phenomena of the spirits, and to prove that all the phenomena are outside the domain of the super-natural."

    Mrs. Doran, speaking of her final conference with the professor, says:

    "His last words to me, a few hours before his death, were that he would prove to me, in a very simple manner, that the dead can communicate with the living.

    "I answered his advertisement through a simple desire to know more about a thing in which I was little versed. I am not a Spiritualist, nor a believer in the psychic."

    Prof. Bradford, after making all preparations for reporting his experi­ences in "the unknown" to Mrs. Doran, opened the gas jet and started on his great adventure.

    On Feb. 12, one week later, Mrs. Doran announced she had a vague presentiment that she would hear from the professor that evening.

    [Psychic] students throughout the city agreed to concentrate at 9 that even­ing on the professor, to "accelerate the return of his spirit." Leading spiritualistic pastors urged their con­gregations to join in the "concentra­tion party."

    Mrs. Doran Engages in Enterprise to "Do Her Duty As a Human Being."

    Mrs. Doran, with a few friends gath­ered in her home, said: "I am not en­gaging in this adventure as a Spirit­ualist. I feel it my duty to do so as a human being. Certainly if Prof. Bradford does communicate to the world through me, a great step toward convincing mankind that the dead can talk will he taken. I have never heard spirits talk, but I realize that does not mean they cannot communicate. I am engaging in this with an open mind."

    At the appointed hour just a week after Bradford's death, Mrs. Doran was standing in her parlor. Three witnesses, none of them believers in spiritism, were present. Curtains were, drawn. One lamp lighted the room dimly.

    For several moments Mrs. Doran stood silent, staring at a dark corner. Then she said:

    "I feel a strange presence. I believe it to be the spirit of the professor. A week ago I scoffed at such a thing. I wonder if there are many concen­trating their thoughts on this now? I wonder—"

    She placed her hands on her tem­ples and directed. "Turn out the light." This was done. A moment's silence. Then:

    "I hear his voice. It is faint, but it grows more distinct. It is the profes­sor.

    "Write this!"

    Then, in short stacco sentences, in a low voice, she dictated the message.

    One of the witnesses wrote as she spoke.

    Mrs. Doran Signs Notes As Testi­monial of Their Accuracy.

    Half an hour later she said: "The voice grows weaker."

    The clock struck 10. The lights were turned on. Mrs. Doran appear­ed flushed. She read the notes she had dictated and placed her signature under them as a testimonial of their accuracy. This is the message:

    "I am the professor who speaks to you from the Beyond. I have broken through the veil. The help of the liv­ing has greatly assisted me.

    "I simply went to sleep. I woke up and at first did not realize that I had passed on. I find no great change apparent. I expected things to be much different. They are not. Hu­man forms are retained in outline but not in the physical.

    "I have not traveled far. I am still much in the darkness. I see many persons full of rapture and happiness. Persons of like natures associate. I am associated with other investiga­tors. I do not repent my act.

    "My present plane is but the first series. I am still investigating the future planes regarding which we in this plane are as ignorant as are earthly beings of the life just beyond human life.

    After signing the notes, Mrs. Doran fainted. She soon recovered, how­ever, and was asked:

    "Are you certain, beyond doubt, that you heard from Bradford?"

    "I am convinced. I never heard a spirit voice before. That was the Pro­fessor, without doubt," she replied.

    Witnesses, on behalf of Mrs. Doran, have invited the American Psychical Research Society, in New York City, to make a thorough investigation.

    Leading psychic experts, including Sir A. Conan Doyle, Sir Oliver Lodge, Hereward H. Carrington and others, are greatly stirred over the phenom­enon because of the unusual conditions under which it occurred.

  • Newspaper Enterprise (20 Mar. 1921), "SAYS DEAD MAN TALKS TO HER - Woman Claims Spirit of Prof. Bradford, Suicide, Visits Her Often", Ogden Standard-Examiner (Ogden, UT): 5, 

    DETROIT, March 19. — Mrs. Ruth Starkweather Doran is continuing her great adventure in spiritism with Prof. Thomas Lynn Bradford, who recently killed himself to prove his theory that the dead could communicate with the living.

    Mrs. Doran is a member of one of Detroit's oldest families, a writer, lecturer and member of the Protestant Episcopal church. She tells about her latest experiences in the following article:

    The spirit of Prof. Thomas Lynn Bradford visits me constantly.

    The man who killed himself so as to be able to prove that the physically dead can talk with the physically alive has revealed to me many wonders of the spirit world.

    Why should he have chosen me as the earthly agency through whom to send his messages to the world from the beyond?

    I do not know.

    I saw him but once.

    He came to my home when I responded to advertisements in which he sought students in psychology. To my amazement he discussed spiritism.

    I told him I was not really a spiritist, that I doubted the reality of spiritism. Then he departed, rather abruptly, saying as he went: "I will prove to you that the dead talk!"

    Three days later he killed himself.

    Soon I received my first message from his spirit. Constantly — almost every night and sometimes by day — the spirit talks to me.

    I am not a victim of mental mirage!

    I am convinced that through me will come — indeed, has come — proof that the physically dead talk.

    The spirit voice has said to me:

    "Through spiritism the world will be reclaimed; sin will be vanquished, suffering will end. The physical in man will cease to be, and the physical death — and that is the only death — will be no more. Men will live on earth forever, even as they live forever in the spirit world."

    The voice has told me we are victims of our own animal tendencies; how our troubles issue from ignoring the spirit and worshipping the flesh.

    Sometimes I am awed by what I hear; again I am amused.

    The professor's spirit voice told me:

    "Some spirits wear dress suits."

    Imagine "evening" dress in the spirit regions!

    But the professor says the spirits retain many of their earthly customs.


    I believe that the power to hear spirit voices is common.

    But only a few persons ever become conscious that they have it.

    I thought once I saw Prof. Bradford's apparition, but I am not sure of this.

    I am can always sense the coming of the spirit voice. In his latest message the professor said:

    "When men no longer idolize the material and honor the spiritual the troubles of earth will cease. When men realize that they can be guided and helped from the beyond, their troubles will cease to be."


    In another message he said:

    "As I have said before, the outlines of the human form are retained here, but not the physical. Men and women wear raiment much as they wore on earth, that is, astral clothing, which, to us, has all the realness of material garb.

    "Spirit bodies of men wear evening dress, even as their earthly bodies did in physical life. Spirits of women wear the kind of hats that suited their earthly natures.

    "There is no time or space here, as known on earth. There are spirits here from Mars and other planets."

    What wonder will yet be revealed to me?

    I do not know. The spirit of Prof. Bradford has told me much; it has promised to tell me more."