There have been rumors that the Ouija board is far older than the late 1800’s when it came into vogue. Stories of how it goes back to as far as ancient Egypt abound, but the truth is the Ouija board was created in the late 1800’s by Spiritualists. Spiritualism held with the belief that the dead could speak to the living. At this time in history, Spiritualism was sweeping the United States. The interesting thing is that the idea that the dead could speak to the living was very popular during this time in history, and the Ouija or talking board was just a tool created by Spiritualists to make this communication easier. The idea was so rooted in American culture in the late 1800’s that everyone was using Ouija boards. It is not like now where most Christians believe that the Ouija board is evil and can allow evil spirits into a person’s life. Even Christians were using Ouija boards at the height of the Spiritualist movement, and they thought nothing of using an Ouija board on Saturday night and then turning around and going to church Sunday morning.
All this being said, what made using an Ouija board okay even for Christians who these days tend to avoid them? This is where it gets interesting. In 1886, an enterprising businessman named Charles Kennard got together with a few friends/investors and opened the Kennard Novelty Company for the sole purpose of mass-producing, you guessed it, Ouija boards. Only unlike the Spiritualists who considered it, part of their religion to use an Ouija board to speak to the dead, this man and his investors marketed the Ouija board as a game. And it took off like wild fire. To this day, you can purchase Ouija boards in the games section of most novelty, and toyshops, even huge shopping centers have them. And while not everyone considers them a game, those who want to can still easily obtain them.
So, Mr. Kennard saw a popular niche and took advantage of it. Spiritualism does not have the popularity today that it did in the late 1800’s, but there are still Spiritualists. And though the Ouija board also is not as popular as it was, people still use it both as a game, and as a real opportunity to speak to the dead.