072 Spirit Photography

Mary Todd Lincoln, circa 1870.Photograph by William H. Mumler

Does Spirit Photography Capture Images of the Departed?

Does Spirit Photography capture images of the departed? Soon after the invention of photography came spirit photography as part of the Spiritualist movement. Since then, photographers have claimed to capture the image of those that have past on in photos.  Some say yes, but many say no. Listen to the debate and then you decide – is spirit photography real?

Questions Explored in this Episode

What is spirit photography? Who are some of the most famous spirit photographers? What was the result of investigations of the most popular photographers? Who believed in spirit photography and who tried to debunk it? Was William Mumler’s photo of Mary Todd Lincoln with the spirit of President Lincoln legit? What are the most famous spirit photos that have not been disproven? Is spirit photography real?

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Listener Mail and Questions

This week’s listener mail is about sleep paralysis and a dark figure. Have a spooky story or question of your own (or someone you know)? Send your story or question to info@ghostlypodcast.com and we might read it on the podcast. You could be on a future episode of Ghostly!

History of Spirit Photography

Pat explores the history of spirit photography, including the most famous photographers, William Mumler and William Hope. PT Barnum let the charge against Mumler and his photos of ghosts, while Sir Arthur Conan Doyle led the charge to prove its authenticity.

The Debate – Spirit Photography

Rebecca and Pat debate four popular spirit photos that are often called the most likely to be real: Sybell Corbet’s 1891 photo of the Combermere Abbey Library, Hubert C. Provand’s 1936 photo of The Brown Lady, Sir Victor Goddard’s 1919 RAF Squadron photo of Freddy Jackson, and the Reverend R.W. Hardy’s 1966 photo of the Tulip Staircase at The Queen’s House. Look below for each image…

Spirit Photo 1: Sybell Corbet’s 1891 photo of the Combermere Abbey Library

Spirit Photo 2: Hubert C. Provand’s 1936 photo of The Brown Lady

Spirit Photo 3: Sir Victor Goddard’s 1919 RAF Squadron photo of Freddy Jackson

Spirit Photo 4: Reverend R.W. Hardy’s 1966 photo of the Tulip Staircase at The Queen’s House

Poll Results

Did listeners think the Salem Witch Trials caused Salem to be haunted? Still need to listen to our previous episodes? Check them out here.

Ghostly Book Club

Interested in joining our Ghostly Book Club? If you want to read spooky books and talk about them with fellow Ghostly listeners, sign up at ghostlypodcast.com/book-club. We’ll be re-launching in the fall.

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Sources for this Week’s Episode
Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spirit_photography
Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_H._Mumler
Skeptic.com: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_H._Mumler
BBC: https://www.bbc.com/future/article/20150629-the-intriguing-history-of-ghost-photography
Smithsonian: https://www.smithsonianmag.com/smithsonian-institution/meet-mr-mumler-man-who-captured-lincolns-ghost-camera-180965090/
Hyperallergic.com: https://hyperallergic.com/332625/with-you-always-a-history-of-photographing-ghosts/
Science and Media Museum: https://blog.scienceandmediamuseum.org.uk/photography-a-z-ghosts-spirit-photography/
OUP Blog: https://blog.oup.com/2013/10/history-spirit-photography/
Insider: https://www.insider.com/scary-photos-ghosts-2018-3
American Hauntings UK: https://www.americanhauntingsink.com/spirit-photography
All That’s Interesting: https://allthatsinteresting.com/spirit-photography-victorian-england

Music for this episode was performed by Michael Rivers
Intro: “III. Allegro moderato from Gargoyles” by Lowell Liebermann
Outro: “Dream Images (Love-Death Music)” by George Crumb
Bumper: “Ghost Waltz” by Lowell Liebermann

“Pat Facts” and “Ghost Story” themes by Mondo
“Time for a Debate” theme by Gail Gallagher gailgallaghermusic.com