William Mumler photo
Throughout history, people have used the technology of their time to try to either prove or fake proof of the existence of life after death. This 1871 photograph depicts a wealthy magazine editor with the purported spirit of his departed protege. Taken by William Mumler, the , this phony image used multiple exposures to achieve the illusion of a ghostly presence. Mumler's most famous photograph shows the spirit of President Abraham Lincoln standing behind widow Mary Todd Lincoln.
In response, skeptical circus magnate P.T. Barnum ordered an independent photographer to doctor an image of himself with the fallen president. was put on trial for fraud in New York City in 1869 but was acquitted.
Mumler's popularity came during the rise of in the mid to late 19th century, when holding seances was a popular pastime among the well-to-do. However, most mediums who claimed to be communing with the dead were later exposed as frauds. Today's ghost hunters attempt to distance themselves from such historical fakery.
Caption text by Elsa Wenzel
July 20, 2007 3:55 AM PDT
Photo by: Wm. B. Becker collection/American Museum of Photography
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