The story of “ghost photography” is a fascinating tale that emerged during the mid-1800s when advancements in communication technology and the rise of spiritualism intersected. Spiritualists believed in the possibility of communicating with the deceased through a medium, and this belief was further fueled during the American Civil War when many sought solace in the idea of connecting with lost loved ones.
William Mumler, an amateur photographer from Boston, capitalized on this phenomenon, claiming he could capture images of ghosts through his camera. Alongside his wife Hannah, a professional photographer and Spiritualist medium, they gained attention by selling “spirit portraits” in Boston.
Despite intense scrutiny from both believers and skeptics, no one could discern Mumler’s methods, which added to the allure of his work. Accusations of fraud eventually led the Mumlers to relocate to New York City, where they faced a sensational trial on fraud charges.
Even with prominent figures like P.T. Barnum testifying against him, Mumler was acquitted, and his business flourished. The Mumlers’ fame grew as they photographed notable figures and catered to mail-in orders from clients unable to visit their studio. The mystery of Mumler’s techniques endures, and his legacy as a curious figure in the history of photography remains fascinating to this day.
- Ghost of Buckland Abbey: Does Sir Francis Drake Haunt his Devon Home?
- How The Ghost Of Teresita Basa Solved Her Murder
Top image: Examples of William Mumler’s ghost photography (William H Mumler / Public Domain).