NEW YORK FOLKLORE QUARTERLY
Vol. XVI, No. 3, Autumn, 1960
Eugene F. Kramer
IN 1871, Mr. L. A. Wells, editor of the Illustrated Annual of
Phrenology and Physiognomy, prepared a series of phrenological
analyses of leading Americans. Mother Ann Lee,
founder of the Shakers, caused him a great deal of trouble because
she left no known portrait when she died in 1784, and a good likeness
of the subject was required for a phrenological report. When
human resources failed to produce the necessary picture, Wells
turned to the supernatural to supply one. How the spirits rose to
the challenge is a fascinating bit of folklore.
“We have presented to us,” wrote Wells, “a portrait purporting
to be that of Mother Ann Lee, as she is reverently and affectionately
called. It is what is called a psychometric portrait and the
manner of its procurement will be found in the note at the close
of this article.” The note referred to is a letter from Elder George
A. Lomas, editor of the official Shaker journal published at Mount
Lebanon, New York...
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