Haunted Colleges and Universities: Creepy Campuses, Scary Scholars, and Deadly Dorms by Tom Ogden is a good place to start if you are interested in learning about campus ghost stories. This comprehensive guide contains information on over two hundred colleges and universities around the United States, but you will have to look in the reference section if you want to find a more in-depth examination of each location.
Published in 2014 by Globe Piquot Press, Haunted Colleges and Universities is 318 pages and retails for $18.95. It is divided into four parts based on regions of the US as defined by the US Census Bureau. Each section is further subdivided into individual states.
When I think of what I look for in a book of ghostlore, well organized content is a plus, and Haunted Colleges and Universities is nothing if not organized. With a clear table of contents listing every college and university in the book by state, it is easy to find any location. Each entry is proceeded by the college’s address, phone number and website. The names of haunted buildings are highlighted in bold, so it is a breeze for your eyes to jump to any location in the body text. All of these features make this book very helpful to its readers.
If Haunted Colleges and Universities has a flaw, it is that it overreaches and cannot devote enough space to any one college (although there are certain colleges in the book that have a lot more space devoted to them than others). The author himself acknowledges this problem.
In his introduction, he wrote: “Readers of Globe Piquot Press haunted books will immediately notice that the format of this one is completely different from others I’ve written for the series. During my research, I wasn’t finding just two or three dozen stories I was finding hundreds. So instead of highlighting just a few hauntings, in this work I’ve tried to include as many legends as space would permit.” He certainly succeeded at that.
So as a reference guide, Haunted Colleges and Universities works perfectly and is a blessing for anyone interested in researching haunted colleges and universities in the United States. It is a good starting point to find out which colleges are thought to be haunted, what the legends are generally about, and which campus buildings they involve. Then you can start doing more in depth research. So the book’s ambitious scope can be a benefit, depending on how you look at it.
I do have to point out one problem with the text, that may call into question information about other locations in the book. Ogden makes several errors in his section on Eastern Illinois University, which is one school I’m familiar with. He says, “The ghost of the residence hall is Mary, a former third floor resident assistant who, legend has it, was chopped to death by a crazed janitor bearing an ax back in the 1920s.”
Mary Hawkins was actually the matron, or dorm mother, of Pemberton Hall. I’m not sure where he read that she was a “third floor resident assistant.” Also, in none of the stories is Mary-as-dorm-mother the one who gets killed. It is a student, who is also sometimes called Mary. Only a few sources inaccurately report her death as taking place in the 1920s. Mary Hawkins actually died in 1918, and most books cite that year (or just “during WW1”) as the year the alleged murder occurred.
It would be unreasonable to expect the author to be intimately familiar with the details of every story in this book, since there are so many, but I include the above paragraph as a cautionary statement. I highly recommend anyone interested in any of the places in this book go to one, two, or three different sources to confirm the details of the story. Ghost stories and folklore change over time, so it is not unusual to come across variations.
Overall, Haunted Colleges and Universities by Tom Ogden is a well organized reference guide for any fan of campus ghostlore. I’m looking forward to reading more of his books in the future.