Spiritualism, the belief in the dead communicating with the living, was popularized in Europe and America during the Victorian Era. In larger cities such as New York and Boston, hundreds of mediums declared that they could put the living in touch with their dead loved ones. By 1850, being a spiritualist became an accepted profession. Many women of the period experimented in seances and spiritual readings. They found comfort in knowing that there was an "after-life."
One of the most famous women of Civil War Era America to practice spiritualism was Mary Todd Lincoln. She became interested in the subject during the 1850's. The fact that Queen Victoria practiced spiritualism more than likely made her belief in the after-life even stronger.
Mary Todd Lincoln attended a number of seances while living in the White House. Her belief in spiritualism grew stronger as more and more tragedy filled her life. After her husband's assassination, she continued to visit with spiritualists, sometimes under an assumed name.