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  • The Eileen Coly Grant for Research Program

  • The History of PF Research Grants from 1951 to 2005

  • The Eileen Coly Grant for Research Program
    The Foundation was proud to announce the Eileen Coly Grant for Research, an annual grant of $5,000, offered through 2008. The Coly Grant was conceived in the name of Parapsychology Foundation’s second and current President, Mrs. Eileen Coly on the occasion of her 90th birthday, and in recognition of her life-long dedication to research in the science of parapsychology.

    When PF’s founder Eileen J. Garrett died in 1970, it was Eileen Coly who stepped into the vacuum created by her mother’s death. Eileen J. Garrett had been the guiding force behind the organization, propelling it forward with dedication to the support of the scientific exploration of psychic phenomena. Parapsychology Foundation has remained closely aligned with Mrs. Garrett’s goals throughout its history. It is worthy to note, however, that it is Eileen Coly who has administered the work of the Foundation for 36 of PF’s nearly 55 years of operation.

    The PF has flourished under Eileen Coly’s direction, but it is perhaps the Research Grant Program for which she is best known, and which is closest to her heart. Most of parapsychology's currently pre-eminent researchers have at one time — usually early in their careers — been recipients of PF’s financial support. Of more inestimable value has been Eileen Coly’s quiet, behind-the-scenes guidance and good counsel as grantees have sought to make their place in the field, availing themselves of the opportunities she has provided for their introduction to other like-minded researchers.

    In an interview published in 1987 in Men and Women of Parapsychology: Personal Reflections edited by Rosemarie Pilkington, Eileen Coly stated her credo which we reiterate and commemorate today with this new award. She said:

    “The research must go on and anyone who has anything important to offer and will do their very best should receive as much attention and support as is possible. … We can’t stop … because we haven’t solved the mystery of psychic phenomena yet. It’s got to be out there somewhere but little by little the information is still being sifted and brought in. The interdisciplinary exchange and the support to education in parapsychology are absolutely essential.”

    PF’s Board of Trustees, staff and family dedicated this award to Eileen Coly’s long-standing and on-going pursuit of research that will assist in finding answers to the questions concerning psychic functioning that continue to elude us. It is with profound regret that the Foundation chose to suspend this Grant in 2009 due to the economic downturn. It is our hope that we will be able to reinstate it sometime in the future.

    Lisette Coly, Executive Director, Parapsychology Foundation



    The History of PF Research Grants from 1951 to 2005
    The best description of the Parapsychology Foundation’s 50-plus-year-long grant program can be found in the abstract of Dr. Carlos S. Alvarado’s presentation for the 44th Annual Parapsychological Association Convention held in August of 2001 in New York City. In a roundtable entitled Fifty Years of Supporting Parapsychology: The Parapsychology Foundation chaired by well-known psychologist and former grantee of the Foundation, Dr. Stanley Krippner, Dr. Carlos Alvarado focused on “The Parapsychology Foundation as a Funding Organization.” The text of that abstract follows:

    When the social history of parapsychology is written it wll be important to include a discussion about funding and resources. At the risk of being called immodest, because of my current affiliation, I would argue that a significant chapter of this history is comprised of the funding contributions of the Parapsychology Foundation (PF). A search through some of the main parapsychology journals and the PF’s Annual Reports, supports this view, showing the magnitude of PF’s funding as well as the variety of topics funded over the years.

    From its beginnings, the PF was interested in a broad view of the field. That is, there was interest in funding virtually any area or approach that presented the potential of helping the field of parapsychology. This included experimental work, spontaneous case research, philosophical and theoretical writings, historical investigations, and education. In addition, the PF grant program had, and still has, an international orientation.

    The roster of grants given to conduct experimental research on ESP and PK reads like a “who’s who” in parapsychology. The list includes the work reported from J. B. Rhine’s laboratory in Durham, North Carolina. Work included such investigators as Margaret Anderson, Esther Foster, Winifred Nielsen, Karlis Osis, Robert Van de Castle, and Rhea White. Investigators from other laboratories who were funded by the PF include George Fisk, Betty Humphrey, J. Fraser Nicol, J. Gaither Pratt, Gertrude Schmeidler, and Donald J. West. Some important lines of research include the work of Bernard Grad on psychokinetic effects on the growth of plants, Rex Stanford and his associate’s work on cognitive correlates of ESP mentation, and Patric Giesler’s psi-testing in Brazil in which he considered a myriad of cultural variables.

    The study of spontaneous cases also received much support. Some examples include Hornel Hart’s OBE research, Ian Stevenson’s reincarnation and ESP work, Louisa E. Rhine’s work on spontaneous cases, as well as grants given to the American Society for Psychical Research, and to Freiburg’s Institut für Grenzegebiete der Psychologie und Psychohygiene which funded the collection of spontaneous cases in Germany. Two important projects deserving special mention are Donald J. West’s study of so-called miraculous healings in Lourdes and John Palmer’s now classic survey of psychic experiences.

    Funding a variety of students has furthered education, which is the function of the current Eileen J. Garrett Scholarship. In addition, the PF has supported the teaching of parapsychology in the form of grants to John Palmer and Robert L. Morris. Other areas include the funding of historical and conceptual work, as well as funding for writers.

    While it is clear from this brief survey that the PF has been a significant contributor to the funding of parapsychology it may be argued that more than this has been accomplished. The PF has been an important force in shaping the field. Its support of virtually all aspects of the field — from the technical to the popular, from the quantitative to the qualitative, from the expermental to the experiental, from the practical to the theoretical — has been an important force in the development of parapsychology. A complete social history of the field should pay attention to such contributions as those made by the PF.


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