This is how our home office appears today. We as Spiritualists can be proud of our educational facility in Milwaukee, WI.
Just four years after the organizing of modern Spiritualism, it became apparent that the "grand and fearless lecturers of the day were passing on to the world of spirit." This weighed heavily on the mind of Moses Hull. So, he sought some person who would commence with the establishment of a training school. While serving at Maple Dell Park, Mantua, Ohio, he openly projected his feelings. The officers there were very sympathetic to his idea. Thus, plans were drawn up and an announcement made that "The Training School was to be organized." The instructors engaged were Professor Andrew J. Weaver, Alfaretta Jahnke (Moses' youngest daughter), D.M. King, Moses and Mattie Hull. For several years, the school was successful except in the area of finances. Thus, it was forced to close. But, this humble start was the beginning of what we know today as the Morris Pratt Institute. For, in the background was an elderly gentleman living in Whitewater, Wisconsin, who had been observing Moses Hull and his struggles. He was much concerned.
In 1888, Morris Pratt bought property and constructed the most expensive home in Whitewater. The building was assessed at $30,000 and was some 48' wide and 85' long. It contained two large auditorium halls, one of which seated nearly 400 people. Pratt designed the building as a temple and a school for Spiritualism.
And, at the Ninth Annual convention of the National Spiritualist Association held in Washington, D.C., Morris and Zulema Pratt presented a letter to the N.S.A. offering them the properties in Whitewater, Wisconsin to be utilized "for educational purposes along the lines of the Moses Hull and A.J. Weaver Training School with such alteration in systems of teaching and curriculum as educators may think it wise to make." However, the N.S.A. was only eight years in being and felt the financial burden of a school would be too much for them at the time.
Morris Pratt's dream did not end there. On November 2, 1901, he filed a petition for incorporation which resulted in the Morris Pratt Institute becoming a corporation on December 11, 1901. The school was to be managed by nine trustees, two of which were to be members of the National Spiritualist Association and one was to be the President of the Wisconsin State Spiritualist Association. It was Morris Pratt's desire that the trustworthy, dedicated Moses Hull be the President.
The subjects to be taught at the school were Science, Mathematics, and Language. Special courses were Oratory, Voice and Physical Culture, English and Rhetoric, Bible Exegetics, Higher Criticism, Logic and Parliamentary Law, Comparative Theology and Psychic Culture. The principles of the school were:a. "Maintenance of the individuality of each student,
b. perfect freedom of thought and expression so long as unkind personalities were avoided, highest authority,
c. reason and experience accepted as the highest authority,
d. no discrimination because of one's ideas,
e. all narrow and sectarian ruts carefully avoided, and
f. the desired aim to make all students original thinkers."
However, Morris Pratt passed to spirit on December 2, 1902 before his dream became an operational reality. Thus, Moses Hull followed Pratt's plans and opened the school on September 29, 1903. Professor A.J. Weaver was the first Principal, Moses Hull was the president and teacher of Homelectics; Florence Johnson (previously F. Jahnke), a teacher of Oratory and Mattie Hull in charge of the Psychic Department.
Along with the Morris Pratt Institute's interest in education, Thomas Grimshaw proposed that a Bureau of Education be established in the N.S.A. At the Thirtieth Annual convention such a bureau was created. Thomas Grimshaw was appointed as Superintendent with the Honorable Mark A. Barwise as his Assistant. Mr. Grimshaw immediately appointed a committee to cooperate with this new bureau and draft a correspondence course on Spiritualism.
The result was "The General Course," consisting of twenty-six lessons in the "History, Philosophy and Religion of Modern Spiritualism" and later the "Advanced Course" consisting of thirty lessons dealing with "Spiritualism, Philosophy, Mediumship and Comparative Religion" prepared by Thomas Grimshaw (who became the President of Morris Pratt Institute). The passing of Barwise in 1937, left the task of combining the two courses into one "General Course" to the Reverand Thomas Grimshaw. A new Advanced Course would now also be needed. Shortly after completing the "General Course," Grimshaw also passed to the Spirit World. Thus, the task was left to the new Superintendent of the Bureau of Education, Dr. Victoria Barnes. She immediately took on the task and shortly thereafter announced the completion of "Advanced Course 2".
During the years of the depression, the school suffered from endowment losses. Many of the students from the Institute were unable to find jobs in Whitewater. The school closed for three years. In 1935, it reopened but was closed a short time thereafter. In 1946, the temple was sold, a new Morris Pratt Institute building constructed in Wauwatosa, a suburb of Milwaukee. On April 24, 1977, after a complete face-lifting both inside and out, the Morris Pratt Institute building was rededicated to the cause of Education in Spiritualism.
Moses Hull the first President
Moses Hull was born in Waldo, Ohio in 1836. At the age of sixteen, Hull joined the United Brethren Church. They were more than pleased since they saw the potential of a great minister in him; not too long thereafter he became acquainted with an Adventist. This meeting led him into an investigation of the new idea and remembering the Bible "Try all things..," led him to becoming a Seventh Day Adventist. But, the questioning of life after death by an Adventist minister at the point of his transition, led Moses into other avenues.
He began attending seances and soon commenced lecturing at Spiritualist societies and churches. Soon thereafter he commenced teaching the Bible from a Spiritualist's view. This was followed later with his publishing two volumes, entitled "The Encyclopedia of Biblical Spiritualism."
Recorded as historical documents are the Jamieson-Hull debate which convinced Hull of the truth of Spiritualism and the Hull-Covert Debate. For the last ten years of his life he held a commission from the N.S.A. making him the official champion debater in behalf of Spiritualism in America.
Moses Hull spent forty-five years of his life promoting the cause of Spiritualism. Moses Hull passed to the Spirit World January 1906.
It is well noted that the Morris Pratt Institute and the National Spiritualist Association were closely affiliated, therefore, it was natural that the Morris Pratt Institute became the Educational Bureau of the N.S.A.C.
At the Eighty-Fifth Annual Convention of the N.S.A.C., appointed members of the Morris Pratt Institute and the National Spiritualist Association of Churches met with Rev. Marilyn J. Awtry, N.S.T. and Paula M. Vogt to discuss preparation of an updated course. The New Educational course on Modern Spiritualism was presented at the Eighty-Ninth Annual Convention of the N.S.A.C. in Denver, Colorado In October 1981.
The Morris Pratt Institute courses have been revised several times over the years.
Copyright © 2001 Morris Pratt Institute