Ruth Edna Kelley wrote the book on Hallowe'en. Literally. According to Lisa Morton in her book, Trick or Treat: A History of Halloween, Ms. Kelley was a 26-year-old librarian who researched the holiday in her spare time while holding a full-time job at the Lynn Public Library in Massachusetts. The book is a scholarly look at the history of America and dives deeply into the regional folklore, celebration rituals, and even a little mysticism, most notably in the divination games where young adults sought to find messages about future suitors in ashes, seeds or other devices. Written in 1919, this book was the first ever about our beloved Halloween.
For those who prefer audiobooks, New Paradigm Press Audio has just released a new audio version of the book, read by Oliver Vale (available on Audible, Amazon and iTunes). The audiobook is a short listen - 2 hours and 31 minutes and well worth an afternoon listen. It's clear the narrator is having a good time with the content, but even though it's an old-fashioned book, it's a necessary read for anyone who loves Halloween. You have to know the roots to really appreciate what came after, and I'm thinking Ms. Kelley never imagined a Halloween like the one we now celebrate.