Fonds SALT - Salter Papers

Identity area

Reference code



Salter Papers


  • 1901-71 (Creation)

Level of description


Extent and medium

12 boxes and 19 volumes

Context area

Name of creator


Biographical history

Born 19 March, 1880 in London, second son of William Henry Gurney, barrister and shorthand writer to the Houses of Parliament. Attended St. Paul's, and matriculated at Trinity College Michaelmas 1898, earning the B.A. in 1901, LL.B. in 1902, and M.A. in 1910. Called to the Bar Lincoln's Inn, 1905. Married Helen Woollgar de Gaudrion Verrall. Psychical researcher, author of a history of the Society for Psychical Research, of which he was president 1947-1948.

Archival history

The Salter Papers were closed to researchers until 1995. The papers were made available to researchers and a finding aid was created by Diana Chardin in June 1996.

At the time of the original deposit Salter indicated that the automatic scripts were being indexed by W. H. Clennell of the Bodleian Library. Clennell's unpublished main index was received at Trinity in 1966, followed by a supplement in 1967 (in series C). Further copies of the index were stated to be in the Bodleian Library and at the Parapsychology Foundation in New York.

Immediate source of acquisition or transfer

Gift of William Henry Salter, 1963. An additional group of materials from his collection at the Society for Psychical Research identified as more appropriately housed with this material was added in 1971.

Content and structure area

Scope and content

The papers concern psychical research, in particular the concept of cross-correspondence in the writings of automatic writers, and consist of automatic scripts by Margaret and Helen Verrall (later Helen Salter), with notes and correspondence relating to these and the writings of other automatists active during the early decades of the twentieth century, including those of Alice Fleming ("Mrs Holland") and Winifred Coombe Tennant ("Mrs Willett"). In addition, there are 32 privately printed volumes, including various scripts edited by the Verralls, J. G. Piddington, Alice Johnson, and G. W. Balfour; Piddington's nine-volume analysis 'Notes and Excursuses' and W. H. Salter's 'Introduction to the Study of Scripts'.

Appraisal, destruction and scheduling


System of arrangement

The papers are arranged into five series: A. Manuscript Material Deposited by W. H. Salter in 1963. B. Printed Material Deposited by W. H. Salter in 1963. C. Material Deposited by W. H. Salter After 1963. D. Material from W. H. Salter's Papers at the SPR. E. Trinity Correspondence Re. Salter Papers.

Conditions of access and use area

Conditions governing access

Series E. Trinity Correspondence Re. Salter Papers is restricted. Please consult the archivist for further information.

Conditions governing reproduction

Language of material

    Script of material

      Language and script notes

      Physical characteristics and technical requirements

      Finding aids

      Finding aid created by Diana Chardin in June 1996.

      Uploaded finding aid

      Allied materials area

      Existence and location of originals

      Existence and location of copies

      Related units of description

      William Salter Papers in the Society for Psychical Research Archive (MS/SPR 50), Cambridge University Library

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          Archivist's note

          Collection level description created by Diana Smith in June 2019, using the finding aid created by Diana Chardin in June 1996.

          Accession area