A.R.G. (George) and Iris M. Owen

An Inventory of their records at the University of Manitoba Archives & Special Collections

Inventory prepared by Jarad Buckwold
University of Manitoba Archives & Special Collections
Winnipeg, Manitoba
(February 11, 2013)

Finding aid encoded by Jarad Buckwold (February 11, 2013)
Finding aid written in English.



Collection Summary

Repository:
University of Manitoba Archives & Special Collections
Dafoe Library, University of Manitoba

Creator:
A.R.G. (George) and Iris M. Owen

Title:
A.R.G. (George) and Iris M. Owen fonds

Dates:
ca. 1959-2011

Quantity:
1.33 metres (including 0.70 metres of textual material, 17 books, 6 oversized photos and sketches, 1 VHS tape and 2 DVDs)

Identification:
MSS 373, PC 328, EL 38 (A11-61)

English

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Biography of A.R.G. (George) and Iris M. Owen

Iris Owen and her husband, A.R.G. Owen, were British immigrants to Canada who made significant contributions to the field of psychical research, particularly concerning table tilting and group psychokinesis (PK). Alan Robert George Owen – known to friends as George – was born in Bristol, England in 1919 while his future wife, Iris May Pepper was born in Meldreth, in Cambridgeshire, England in 1916. Trained as a mathematician and geneticist, George Owen obtained a B.A. in mathematics and physics in 1940, an M.A. in 1945 and his doctorate in mathematical genetics in 1948. During the Second World War, George Owen played a large part in the development of Radar technology while Iris served in the armed forces as a radio intercept officer, helping to decode German “Enigma” messages. Following the war, Iris worked as a nurse in a cancer radiology clinic while Dr. Owen became a research fellow and lecturer in mathematics and genetics at Trinity College. They married in 1952 and had a son, Robert, in 1955.

Both George and Iris were interested in researching psychical phenomenon, particularly concerning psychokinesis and poltergeists. In 1964, Dr. Owen published “Can we Explain the Poltergeist”, which was a collection of his research into poltergeist phenomena that attempted to separate hoaxes from cases he believed to be genuine. One case in particular featured prominently in his research: that of the “sauchi” poltergeist, which manifested around 11 year old Virginia Campbell in 1960-61, leading Dr. Owen to conclude that some poltergeist phenomena were indeed real. A second case that began in 1966 would occupy Dr. Owen on and off again for several years, that of 11 year old Matthew Manning, who later visited Dr. and Ms. Owen in Canada in 1974. Research such as this led in 1969 to the Owens being offered to direct parapsychology research for the Toronto based New Horizons Research Foundation (NHRF) for five years. They accepted the offer and came to Canada the following year. The New Horizons Research Foundation was a non-profit organization that dealt in psychical research and Dr. Owen came on as the Foundation’s Vice President as well as the editor of its journal, “New Horizons: Journal of the New Horizons Research Foundation”, which ran from 1972-1978 and incorporated the “Transactions of the Toronto Society for Psychical Research”. The Toronto Society for Psychical Research (TSPR) was another organization dedicated to psychical research and had Iris Owen on as its Secretary-Treasurer. It was under the TSPR’s auspices that the Owens’ famous Philip experiment was conducted. Headed by Iris, the Philip experiment sought to recreate the table tilting experiments of British psychical researchers such as Kenneth J. Batcheldor, who determined that group psychokinesis was possible. To do so, an imaginary ghost named Philip was created as a way to guide and focus the table tilting group’s psychical energy as questions were posed to and responses sought from the imaginary Philip. Iris published the experiment’s results in a 1976 book, “Conjuring up Philip: An Adventure in Psychokinesis”, where she concluded that table tilting is the result not of spiritual remnants of the deceased tilting the table, but of group psychokinesis – she firmly believed that the imaginary Philip only responded the way the group desired and provided no information that they as individuals or a group did not already possess. Dr. Owen continued researching and writing papers for the NHRF right up until his and Iris’ retirement in 1994, for which they moved to Calgary. Dr. Owen passed away in 2003, followed by Iris in 2009.

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Scope and Contents of the Collection

The fonds was created by the donor himself and divided into series and folders based on his own determinations and specifications. The fonds is divided into two series, the first, New Horizon Research Foundation, is a collection of articles written under the auspices of the New Horizon Research Foundation by Dr. Owen (usually with Mrs. Owen) and other New Horizon members between 1975 and 1994 as well as a bound collection of “New Horizons: Journal of the New Horizons Research Foundation” that ran from 1972-1978 . The second series, occasional papers, contains other articles written by or about the Owens, their correspondences, other related articles that they had collected, photographs, sketches and a DVD containing digitized copies of some of the items. In addition, the fonds also contains a VHS and DVD copy of a table tilting session.

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Restrictions on Access

There are no restrictions on this material.

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Related Materials

This fonds is one of a series of fonds and collections donated by Walter Meyer zu Erpen related to survival and parapsychology research. Other such fonds and collections donatd by Meyer zu Erpen are the Survival Research Institute of Canada fonds (MSS 372; A11-60), Survival Research Newsletters and Periodicals Collection (MSS 374; A11-62), Debra Barr and Walter Meyer zu Erpen Research and Publication Collection (MSS 375; A11-63), Jenny O'Hara Pincock fonds (MSS 376; A11-64), Spiritualist Hymnals and Manuals Collection (MSS 377; A11-65), Kenneth J. Batcheldor fonds (MSS 378, EL 39; A11-66), Albert Batten fonds (MSS 379, PC 329, EL 40; A11-67), Olga Park fonds (MSS 380; A11-71), Howard Reed fonds (MSS 381, EL 41; A11-107). Also related, but not donated by Meyer zu Erpen, is the Hamilton Family fonds (Mss 14, Pc 12, Tc 70; A.79-21, A.79-41, A.79-52, A.79-56, A.79-65, A.80-08, A.80-25, A.81-09, A.86-56) .

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Custodial History

The Material was donated to the Archives & Special Collections by Walter Meyer zu Erpen, President of the Survival Research Institute of Canada, in 2011.

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Detailed Description of the Collection

MSS 373 New Horizons Research Foundation (NHRF) [ 1975-1994 ]
BoxFolder
11 New Horizons Foundation - Position Papers, Reviews, and Reprints - List 1987-1994
2 NHRF - A Brief History. 1970-1984 1985
3 NHRF - 1 1984
4 NHRF - 2 1984
5 NHRF - 3 1984
6 NHRF - 4 1985
7 NHRF - 5 1985
8 NHRF - 6 1985
9 NHRF - 7 1985
10 NHRF - 8 1985
11 NHRF - 9 1985
12 NHRF - 10 1985
13 NHRF - 11 1985
14 NHRF - 12 1986
15 NHRF - 13 1986
16 NHRF - 14 1986
17 NHRF - 15 1986
18 NHRF - 16 1986
19 NHRF - 17 1986
20 NHRF - 18 1986
21 NHRF - 19 1986
22 NHRF - 20 1986
23 NHRF - 21 1986
BoxFolder
21 NHRF - 22 1987
2 NHRF - 23 1987
3 NHRF - 23a 1987
4 NHRF - 24 1987
5 NHRF - 25 1987
6 NHRF - 26 1987
7 NHRF - 27 1987
8 NHRF - 28 1987
9 NHRF - 29 1987
10 NHRF - 30 1991
11 NHRF - 31 1991
12 NHRF - 31a 1993
13 NHRF - 32 1991
14 NHRF - 33 1992
15 NHRF - 34 1992
16 NHRF - 35 1992
17 NHRF - 36 1993
18 NHRF - 37 1993
19 NHRF - 38 1994
20 NHRF - 39 1987
21 NHRF - 40 1985
22 NHRF - 42 1986
23 NHRF - 43 1986
24 NHRF - 43 1986
25 NHRF - 44 1986
26 NHRF - 45 1987
27 NHRF - 46 1975-1977
28 NHRF - Proposals for Activities in Period Commencing 1 July, 1983 1983
29 NHRF - Report for the Year 1 July, 1983 to 30 June, 1984 1984
30 NHRF - A Research Brief on Experiments to be Conducted by the Toronto Society for Psychical Research in 1987 and 1988 1987-1988
31 NHRF - Society for Scientific Exploration: Third Annual Meeting, Princeton University, October 29-31, 1984 1984
32 EL 38 NHRF - TSPR - Owens DVD Copy of Papers, Journals and Photos ca. 2011
BoxFolder
3N/A MSS 373 Journal of the New Horizons Research Foundation Incorporating Transactions of the Toronto Society for Psychical Research (Iris Owen's bound copy) 1978

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Occasional Papers ca.1959-2011
BoxFolder
31 MSS 373 A.R.G. Owen (1919-2003) and Iris M. Owen (1916-2009) 2009
2 A.R.G. Owen - Articles by and/or About ca.1959 - 1989
3 A.R.G. Owen - Parapsychology Awards and Prizes 1964-1977
4 Field of Parapsychology - Status Of 1990-1995
5 Miscellaneous Correspondence - Arranged Chronologically 1971-2000
6 Correspondence - John Beloff 1988-1994
7 Correspondence - J. Henry Bennett, Genetics, Cambridge and Adelaide 1956-1996
8 Correspondence - John Robert Colombo 1994-1999
9 Correspondence - Peter Underwood, FRSA, and the Ghost Club Society 1991-1999
10 Biometry - C.A.B. Smith's Life, Form and Number 1965
11 Book Reviews of Louisa Rhine's "The Invisible Picture" 1981-1982
12 Conjuring Up Philip - Retrospective Review in the Australian Parapschological Review 1992-1993
13 Donald Colin (Ben) Webster (1930-1997) 1997-1998
14 Ian Stevenson's Study of Reincarnation Cases 1988-1999
15 Languages - "Maths Research" 1990?-1995
16 Matthew Manning 1974-2012
17 Miscellaneous Newspaper and Magazine Articles 1976-1999?
18 New Frontiers Newsletter (Oregon, Wisconsin) 1992-1995
19 Robert L. Bourgeois - Psychokinesis and Contact With an Artificial Spirit: a Replication of the Philip Phenomena 1994
20 Society for Psychical Research (SPR) Founders - Slide - Presidents of the Society before 1990
21 EL 38 Thurmond Table Levitation Group, 4-Minute Home Movie of Levitation of 65-pound Dining Room Table, DVD copy ca.1974-75
BoxFolder
4N/A MSS 373 Collected Books (In Banker's Box) 1964-2000
BoxFolder
11 PC 328 Graphic Material (In Oversized Box) 1974
BoxFolder
2N/A VHS: Thurmond Table Levitation Group, 4-Minute Home Movie of Levitation of 65-pound Dining Room Table. ca.1974-1975

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