Fifty Photographs: selections from SCUA collections

Calvin B. Braganza, mystic

by Alton H. Blackington, ca.1930

Calvin B. Braganza wore mystery well. Even the most basic facts about Braganza's background are scattered and uncertain. A scouring of city directories, census, and other records, hints that he might have been born at some time between 1887 and 1889 (or perhaps a decade earlier), in either Goa (India), California, or New Mexico, and in the 1930 census, he reported having been raised speaking Tuscarora.

Braganza first surfaced as a clairvoyant in the city directory for Fitchburg, Mass., from 1915 to 1917, and from 1924 to 1933, he was plying his craft in Boston as a metaphysical practitioner -- a phrenologist, astrologer, seer, and teacher. When he registered for the draft in 1941, having moved on to New Jersey, Braganza listed his occupation as a "Consultant, psychologist, and publicist." Wherever he was, he claimed an impressive array of degrees from hard-to-verify metaphysical colleges, and he reportedly founded several occult organizations, none of which are easily traced.

While Braganza was making plans for a 1930 World Occult Congress, claiming to have issued thousands of invitations, Walter Franklin Prince of the American Society for Psychical Research slammed his "pure rot and chicanery," predicting a couple of dozen attendees, not a couple of thousand. Wherever truth and fiction met with Braganza, one truth seems more certain: Braganza died in New Jersey in April 1956.