Roll, William G. (William George), 1926-2012

Alternative names

Hide Profile

William George Roll, Jr. was born on July 3, 1926 in Bremen, Germany, the son of William George Roll and Gudrun (Agerholm) Roll. He served with the Danish Resistance Forces during World War II from 1943 to 1945. On June 22, 1950, he married Murial Gold, and together they had three children. He received his B.A. from the University of California at Berkeley in 1949, majoring in philosophy and psychology, after transferring from Holt Gymnasium in Denmark. A year later, Roll moved to England and studied parapsychology under Professor H. H. Rice at Oxford University. While there, he received his Master of Letters for a thesis titled "Theory and Experiment in Psychical Research," and was president of the Oxford University Society for Psychical Research from 1952 to 1957. In 1989, he received his Ph.D. from Lund University in Lund, Sweden for a thesis titled "This World or That: An Examination of Parapsychological Findings Suggestive of the Survival of Human Personality after Death." In 1957, Roll joined the staff of the Parapsychology Laboratory at Duke University. During this time, in 1958, Roll participated in his first case when he and J. G. Pratt investigated claims of objects moving in a home in Seaford, Long Island, New York. In the paper in which Pratt and Roll detailed their investigation, they coined the term "recurrent spontaneous psychokinesis" (RSPK). In 1961, he was appointed project director of the Psychical Research Foundation (PRF) at Duke and remained there until it dissolved any connection with the campus in the 1970s. In 1986, Roll was appointed Professor of Psychical Research and Psychology at West Georgia College, now the University of West Georgia, with funding from the PRF. The foundation relocated to West Georgia until its dissolution. Roll and the PRF arrived at West Georgia College as part of the psychology department's movement to add a variety of courses that went beyond traditional psychology, and he brought a worldwide reputation as a parapsychologist when he joined the program. According to the department's website, "with his Danish background, Dutch education, English accent, and experience in a Zen monastery, he exemplified the encompassing versatility of the program."

Roll was a member of several different professional societies, including the American Association for the Advancement of Science, American Society for Psychical Research, Parapsychological Association, and the Society for Psychical Research. Roll has written more than 100 scientific papers, several articles for anthologies, edited 11 volumes of Research in Parapsychology, and written four books: The Poltergeist (1972), Theory and Experiment in Psychical Research (1975, his M.Litt. thesis), Psychic Connections (1995, with Lois Duncan), and Unleashed (2004, with Valerie Storey). In 1996 he received the Parapsychological Association's award for a Distinguished Career in Parapsychology. In 2002 he was awarded the Dinsdale Memorial Award by the Society for Scientific Investigation for his RSPK studies. Roll currently resides in Villa Rica, Georgia, and even after retirement, Roll has taught the occasional course at the University of West Georgia as an adjunct professor.

From the description of [William G. Roll (1926- )]. ca. 1883-1992. (University of West Georgia). WorldCat record id: 429641882

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
creatorOf Roll, William G. (William George), 1926-2012. [William G. Roll (1926- )]. University of West Georgia, Irvine Sullivan Ingram Library
referencedIn Parapsychology Laboratory Records, 1893-1984 David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library
Role Title Holding Repository
Relation Name
correspondedWith Parapsychology Laboratory person
Place Name Admin Code Country


Birth 1926-07-03

Death 2012-01-09



Ark ID: w65b21rv

SNAC ID: 3197911