John H. Nolan

Hometown: Waterloo, NY

Alias: John H. Nolan, J. H. Nolan

John H. Nolan was a spirit photographer who operated out of Waterloo, NY. He was listed as a “spirit artist” in the Religio-Philosophical Journal.

Nolan was working as a photographer as early as the 1960s and was attached to the 12th Army Corps, Engineer Brigade in Virginia. In January 1964 he was arrested for attempting to leave Rappahannock Station on a train without a pass.

Nolan claimed that he could not tell how he obtained spirit photographs; “that at first he had been pestered by their appearing when not expected; that many pictures had been spoiled by them; that the first he knew they were spirits was when those who sat for pictures recognized them as their spirit friends“. [1]

An article in the Banner of Light describes an experience with Nolan as follows:

“When I visited your studio in company with Mr. Vogi, and sat for a picture, you will recollect that, before you removed the cloth to expose the plate my father said through Vogl, “ I shall give you a surprise on the picture. You were very much astonished when you showed me the negative, and so was I, for there I saw my father.”

Banner of Light – March 27th, 1875

When it became known that Mr. Nolan took spirit pictures, his business increased, and he increased his charges. Nolan stated he was “ready to allow anyone acquainted with the art of Photography, to examine him to their heart’s content, and discover any deception he uses[2] Eventually he closed his shop and went into other business following his priest forbidding the profession. [1]

[1] Facts: A Monthly Magazine Devoted to Mental and Spiritual Phenomena – May/June 1887
[2] Religio-Philosophical Journal – September 1869