“There can be no knowledge without faith.” Anna Eva Fay was one of the most famous and successful mediums of the 19th and 20th centuries, enthralling the American public with her ability to read minds, communicate with spirits, and predict future events. She was particularly renowned for her “Somnolency,” where she would predict and answer the written questions of audience members with startling accuracy, and throughout her life she received thousands of letters entreating her guidance. Anna Eva Fay’s career was fraught with constant skepticism from critics but she always maintained that her legitimacy was up to the audience to accept—since her performances were so astonishing and convincing, people began to believe they were the real thing. Read more about it!
The information in this guide focuses on primary source materials found in the digitized historic newspapers from the digital collection Chronicling America.
The timeline below highlights important dates related to this topic and a section of this guide provides some suggested search strategies for further research in the collection.
|October 23, 1881||Anna Eva Fay opens at the Sacramento Metropolitan Theater.|
|November 16, 1883||An audience member lifts up Miss Fay’s skirt in a vain attempt to find the little boy hiding inside.|
|September 1895||Fay uses her powers to divine the identity of a murderer.|
|April 1896||Fay calls upon her abilities to locate a gold mine.|
|February 17, 1904||Fay uncovers the body of a missing murder victim.|
|October 1905||Supported by Clara Barton, Fay decides to found a “Bungalow Home” for people of all kinds.|
|1908||By now Miss Fay has experienced a highly successful mentalist career, securing $1000 every week.|