Newspaper test

A newspaper test is a Mediumistic test in which a discarnate communicator predicts items to appear in as-yet unpublished newspapers. The tests were originated in 1919 by Feda, the spirit Control of Gladys Osborne Leonard, as a way of providing evidence for Survival After Death.

However, newspaper tests are susceptible to the criticism that they represent no more than the precognitive ability of the medium (see Super-PSI). The majority of newspaper tests were conducted through Leonard with Charles Drayton Thomas as sitter, many with Thomas’s father as communicator. Tests were given in the morning or afternoon of the day before the newspapers appeared and, Thomas ascertained, even before the type had been set for them.

Thomas’s father claimed through Feda that he was helped in the tests by higher spirits who took him to the newspaper offices where he could see the etheric shadows of the type to be set. Thomas routinely noted the time and sent a copy of the prediction to the SPR on the same day he received it. Some newspaper tests were complex, both in terms of instructions and evaluation, but others were straightforward.

In one of the latter, Thomas was directed by Feda to look at the front page of the following day’s London Times. A little more than a third of the way down the third column he was to find his name and the name of his wife, Clara, and within an inch of them, Clara’s age. Upon examining the newspaper the next day, he found the names and the number 51 in the places indicated.

Clara was 52, but she had only had her birthday the week before. As this example shows, the words, names and numbers used in the tests were common and likely to appear regularly in the Times. However, in the tests, Feda (or Thomas’s father) would correctly give page numbers and locations on a page to within a quarter of a column.

In 12 sittings with Leonard in which a total of 104 items were given, Thomas found that 73 were accurate, 20 inconclusive and 19 incorrect. By chance, one would be expected to find 18 accurate, 10 inconclusive and 76 incorrect.



  • Guiley, Rosemary Ellen. Harper’s Encyclopedia of Mystical and Paranormal Experience. San Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco, 1991.
  • Smith Susy. The Mediumship of Mrs. Leonard. New Hyde Park, N.Y.: University Books, 1964.
  • Thomas, Charles Drayton. Some New Evidence for Human Survival. London: W. Collins Sons, 1922.


The Encyclopedia of Ghosts and Spirits – Written by Rosemary Ellen Guiley  – September 1, 2007