True Believer or Fraud? The Trial of Spirit Photographer William Mumler | WYPR

True Believer or Fraud? The Trial of Spirit Photographer William Mumler

Jan 18, 2018

In the mid-19th century, an off-beat form of spirituality swept the U.S. People turned to mediums and seances, desperate to reach dead loved ones, especially those lost during the Civil War. Peter Manseau, curator of religion at the Smithsonian, describes how the advent of photography collided with the Spiritualist Movement, resulting in so-called “spirit photographs”. Manseau has written: “The Apparitionists: A Tale of Phantoms, Fraud, Photography, and the Man who Captured Lincoln’s Ghost”.

Here is the photo of Mary Todd Lincoln, taken by Mumler in 1872: