By Nalee Praseutsack
Haunted Lawrence, a ghost tour of Lawrence University, typically takes place before Halloween, but it was absent from the library’s activities this year. A discussion with the archivist Erin Dix explained the reason for this year’s absent tour and information about the tour for those who might not have been aware of it.
Originally conceived by the former archivist Julia Strongfellow, Dix’s predecessor, the Haunted Lawrence tour first occurred in 2006. The tour aims to tell the history of buildings and the school while also incorporating stories of mysterious or spooky happenings based on pieces of evidence in the archives including journals and newspaper articles.
The tour also provided an opportunity for people to experience less accessible parts of campus. Places like the Main Hall cupola and the attic of Ormsby Hall have been stops on the tour before. Dix said, “it can be fun to see some less visible parts of campus.”
This year, the tour was not given in order to plan and try out different events for the month of October. Because October is American Archives Month, Dix planned a film festival of “movies that had been recently digitized” in order to help “highlight the archives and why it’s cool.” She also explained, “It would have been a little too much to plan a tour and this other event.”
Dix does promise that the tour will return next year. She said she was “aware that some people were disappointed” that it didn’t happen this year and plans to bring the tour back next October.
When asked about some particularly haunted sites, Dix named the Music and Drama Center, particularly Stansbury Theatre. Claims of disembodied screaming have come from multiple people, from staff to students and others throughout the decades. A security officer, according to Dix, once reported seeing “on the stage two figures … who disappeared.”
A blog post by Strongfellow from Oct. 31, 2006 entitled “Haunted Lawrence” makes note of “a few places on campus that are said to be haunted.” The list includes Ormsby Hall, Stansbury Theatre and Main Hall, among other locations. According to the blog, Main Hall is “supposedly haunted by Hiram Jones.” Jones, a professor of Ancient Language and Literature, “proceeded to die on the spot” during a Latin class inside Main Hall in 1898.
While Dix said that she has never had a first hand experience with ghosts or hauntings, she does believe that some happenings may be more difficult to discredit. However, on a tour she gave, she said a woman in the tour group approached her claiming that “two discarnate beings were watching [them] from the balcony” in the Chapel.
If anyone has had a ghostly or paranormal experience, Dix encourages them to share it with her to gather more information for the archives and the tour. This can be done via email at email@example.com or in person at the archives located on Level B of the library. You can also contact her if you are interested in learning more about the Haunted Tours or the archived evidence of these claims.