home esoterica Original binnallofamerica.com Audio the United States of Esoterica merchandise contact

Follow BoA on Twitter

Bookmark and Share

BOA : Audio


Robert Murch

(1 Hour, 50 Minutes)

Listen Now

Play Now with Flash Streaming Audio
Download MP3
(Full Show MP3 : 1 Hour, 50 Minutes)
(Split into 2 parts for easier download)
(MP3 A : 58 minutes)
(MP3 B : 52 minutes)


Listening Instructions

Download MP3 : PC Users : right-click the above links and "Save target as ..." Mac users : press "control-click" and choose "Download link to Disc".
Podcast : URL is HERE
*Add that URL to your podcast receiving software and you will be subscribed to BoA Audio.
Help : Contact binnall if you have any technical problems. As always, feedback on the interviews is appreciated.
Help Support BoA,
Make a Donation:

Continuing this season's exploration of the fringe realms of the esoteric, we welcome the world's foremost collector, historian and expert on the Ouija Board: Robert Murch. In this conversation, we'll examine the Ouija Board from a myriad of angles, including the distinction between Ouija Boards and other types of spirit board devices, the history of the Ouija Board in America, from 1880 to today, including the evolution of its perception and popularity. Along the way, we'll also address the longstanding idea that the Ouija is dangerous or evil and find out where that idea came from, how it contrasts with the early popular opinion of the device, and how it has changed over the years. Plus, of course, tons and tons more.

It's an episode that provides a wealth of enlightenment on an esoteric icon that has stood the test of the time with the man who has championed it in the modern era: Robert Murch.

Full Preview: We kick things off with our standard bio / background and find out how Robert Murch got interested in the Ouija Board and how his research evolved over the years. Murch also reflects on the Ouija Board's remarkable durability as an esoteric instrument over the last century. Additionally, he details how the public perception of the Ouija Board changed from an innocent parlor game into a "dangerous" toy.

Delving into the history of the Ouija Board in America, we first find out how talking boards first became a regional sensation in the United States in the late 1880's. Murch details how the early developers of the Ouija Board likely noticed the local popularity of the device and developed into into a national brand. Murch also delineates how the original talking boards were an amalgamation of two different types of devices used for spirit communication. He also reveals the surprising fact that the earliest critics of the Ouija Board were actually mediums who saw it as a threat to their business.

Continuing our examination of the early history of the Ouija, we talk about how, in the early years, there were different schools of thought as to whether the device was used for communicating with spirits or the result of merely the subconscious. Murch also explains how, during the early 1900's, the Ouija acted as a veritable dating aide, since its instructions said it should be used by "a man and a woman." Addressing the alleged dangers associated with the Ouija Board, Murch specifies how the device is merely an instrument and not to be blamed for what happens when using it. To that end, he also explores how the Ouija Board serves essentially the same function as modern technological 'ghost hunting' devices. Murch also tackles the issue of Ouija Boards being bad for your physical or mental health, Murch details his research into how factual those theories are.

Murch then details some of the original players who were responsible for introducing the Ouija Board to America and talks about how they were prominent members of society in Baltimore. He then traces some of the intrigue surrounding the intellectual ownership of the Ouija as it became massively popular. Murch then profiles William Fuld, who he calls the "Father of the Ouija Board," a man who was largely responsible for the marketing of the device to America. Looking at how massively popular the device was in the early 1900's, we find out how the Ouija Board, alone, was said to have earned over $3 million dollars in 1920.

Following that, we try and unravel the mystery as to the true origins of the word "Ouija" which lent itself as the name of the board. Getting meta on our Ouija discussion, we find out more about Murch's amazingly extensive research into these early players of Ouija history. Murch details how he tracked down the ancestors of these Ouija creators, some of whom were children during the original Ouija boom of the 1900's. Murch also talks about the schism that happened in the Fuld family over the Ouija business and how his research helped heal that familial wound.

We then trace the popularity of the Ouija Board over the years and look at how it boomed in the 1920's and then had a major resurgence in popularity in the 1940's. Murch details some of the factors which seem to play a part in the ebbs and flows in Ouija popularity. He also talks about how the latest Ouija boom of recent years may be different from previous eras which saw surges in popularity for the device. Murch also reflects on his interaction with Hasbro, the current owners of the Ouija brand.

Given that his status as Ouija expert and collector, we find out how often Murch actually uses the device nowadays. He also returns to the idea that the Ouija is evil or inspires evil in its users and explains how that is often used by nefarious people. He also notes how the ghost hunting community has begun to re-embrace the Ouija Board as an investigative tool. Binnall then shares a story from usofe.com poster Clendennan, who was told by someone in the toy industry that they used to coat select Ouija Boards with a coating to make them appear more 'supernatural' when you burned them. Staying in the realm of weird Ouija stories, we get Murch's opinion on the tale of Emily Grant Hutchins, who claimed to have channeled a Mark Twain novel via the device. Murch reveals that the tale is just one of many stories of people claiming to have gotten texts from the device.

Next, we ponder whether or not the Ouija will ever shake its reputation as a dark, occult item. We also find out what kind of feedback Murch has gotten from visitors to his website as well as other esoteric researchers. We also explore the idea that the energy that people put into using a Ouija Board will manifest itself when they use it. We also find out if, nowadays, the Ouija Board is a purely American phenomenon or if it is still popular in Europe and Canada.

Heading towards the close, we find out what, in light of trademarks, constitutes an 'official' Ouija Board. Wrapping things up, we find out what's next for Robert Murch, including consultation on the official Ouija Board movie as well as a book on the definitive history of the Ouija Board. Adding one last detail to the conversation, Murch also talks about how the symbols surrounding the Ouija Board have changed over the years.

Robert Murch Bio

Robert L. Murch, Jr., is the world’s foremost collector, historian, and expert on Ouija® and Talking Boards. To most he's known simply as "Murch." He was born in Lewiston, Maine on February 20th 1974. He attended the University of Connecticut, University of New Hampshire, University of Massachusetts in Boston, and Salem State College.

After watching the movie Witchboard in 1986 his strange relationship with the Ouija board began. Robert purchased his first antique Ouija board in the summer of 1993 while attending college in New Hampshire. After his second purchase he realized there were many different Ouija boards and continued collecting. Distance has never been an issue for Robert, and he is known to drive hours for a board he doesn't yet possess. Though he never mentions costs it is rumored he has spent a small fortune collecting these rare talking boards. He currently claims to own over 300 different talking boards.

Robert has worked with DreamWorks Studios as their Ouija consultant on the movie What Lies Beneath, and was contacted by the producers of the movies Sugar & Spice and Drive Thru as well. He has made appearances on Showtime's Bullshit!, The Travel Channel, MTV, the BBC, Australian radio, U. S. radio, and consulted on A & E's Paranormal State. He has also been featured in articles published in the Associated Press, USA Today, CNN.com, ABCNews.com and various local newspapers.

His websites are robertmurch.com and williamfuld.com

Next Episode :

Stan Gordon

Silent Invasion

A fascinating look at the UFO and Bigfoot wave which swept across Pennsylvania in 1973/74.

BoA : Audio, Season Six archive