Jill Lepore is the David Woods Kemper Professor of American History and Affiliate Professor of Law at Harvard University and a staff writer for The New Yorker, where she writes about politics,…
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One night in 1952, a Coloradan businessman hypnotized a local housewife. Under his spell, she began to recount her past life as a 19th-century Irish woman. He caught it on tape. The story of her reincarnation tore out of their Colorado town and across the world. It spawned major motion pictures, an international bestselling book, and a national hypnosis craze. But beneath all the uproar lay a set of questions that revealed a deep worry about the nature of self in the 1950s, the decade’s strange mishmash of psychology and spiritualism, and an anxiety about gender. This week on The Last Archive: Who are you, really?