David P. Abbott, Master Magician

David P. Abbott's book, published in 1916, exposed many techniques of fake spirit mediums.

David P. Abbott's book, published in 1916, exposed many techniques of fake spirit mediums.

David P. Abbott  (1863-1934) was born near Falls City, Nebraska, and lived most of his life in Omaha. Although Abbott was a businessman, he was best known as a magician, who invented and performed many startling feats of magic. Most of his performances were staged in his home, where he was visited by many famous magicians, including Harry Houdini.

Abbott was also an investigator of paranormal claims, which may be of interest as Halloween approaches. He published widely on psychic subjects, and his Behind the Scenes with the Mediums, published in 1916, exposed techniques of fake spirit mediums, many of whom were located in eastern Nebraska. The book includes an account of a séance that Abbott once attended in Lincoln and his rational explanation for the strange phenomena involved.

Learn more about Abbott’s life and career in a Timeline column and an online exhibit on the Nebraska State Historical Society’s website. — Patricia C. Gaster, Assistant Editor for Research and Publications

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