Waterloo PhD graduate, Nick Richbell, explores twentieth-century Spiritualism

Monday, June 24, 2024

I appreciate that the Tri-U History program afforded me the opportunity to go down a path not well trod - twentieth-century Spiritualism.

Nick Richbell, PhD

Nick Richbell's dissertation explores the life and career of Maurice Barbanell, a British businessman, journalist, newspaper editor, medium, and long-time pioneer of Spiritualism. Spiritualism—a religion, a science, and a philosophy—is based on the belief or knowledge that the human soul survives death and that communication with discarnate spirits is possible. Barbanell spent sixty-one years sharing the wisdom and teachings of his spirit guide, Silver Birch.

The thesis, "'Mr. Spiritualism' Maurice Barbanell and his Life as a Twentieth-Century Spiritualist Propagandist," argues that Barbanell was well-deserving of the moniker, "Mr. Spiritualism" and demonstrates Barbanell's unwavering support and defense of Spiritualism.

Dr. Richbell's work with supervisor, Dr. Andrew Hunt, "was nothing but a positive experience. Dr. Hunt supported me from the time we met and continues to do so now, even after graduation."

Before graduation, Nick relocated to Clemson University in South Carolina to become the head of Special Collections and Archives, a role he previously played at the University of Waterloo while he completed his PhD part-time.

"I am busy learning the intricacies of a new country, a new job, and new temperatures!" Nick writes. "I am also collaborating on an article about 'death in the archives,' preparing my dissertation to be published as a monograph, and turning one of the dissertation chapters into an article. I am also giving talks about my research as an invited speaker including on podcasts in the United Kingdom.

In addition to Dr. Andrew Hunt, Nick's supervisor, his committee included Dr. Jane Nicholas, and Dr. Sofie Lachapelle. His internal/external member was Dr. Scott Kline, and his external committee member was Dr. Joy Dixon of the University of British Columbia.

Congratulations, Dr. Richbell!