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William M. Keeler Spirit Photographer

William M. Keeler

Lifespan: 1848 - 1931

Hometown: Washington, D.C.

Studio: 1456 Park Road Washington D.C. ; 454 Franklin Ave, Brooklyn, NY

Dr. William Mead Keeler was an American spirit photographer who operated from the 1880s through 1920s. Early references have him living in Boston but by 1900 he has a Washington D.C. address. An 1898 New York Times article calls him “one of the leading spirit photographers” at Lily Dale, New York spiritualist camp. Keeler’s brother was famed slate writing medium Pierre L. O. A. Keeler.

Keeler is claimed to have taken over 4000 spirit photographs. He offered both in person and mail order spirit photographs for sale. His mail order spirit photographs offered “to secure photographs of those gone before when the applicant cannot be present” for a price of $3.

A letter in an 1883 issue of Gallery of Spirit Art praised the skills of Keeler, the author J. L. O’Sullivan proclaimed his “genuineness as a spirit photographer is beyond all question” and he has sat for him seven times in one day for the price of $1 a photo.[1]

Keeler is mentioned in the 1887 report of the Seybert Investigation into Modern Spiritualism. The commission requested to investigate spirit photography, however Keeler requested $300 and strict operating requirements which were seen as an effort to dodge the inquiry.[2]

Keeler was later investigated and his methods were questioned by Walter Franklin Prince in the Proceedings of American Society for Psychical Research in a extensive report on the spirit photography process.[3]

[1] Gallery of Spirit – November 1883
[2] Seybert Investigation into Modern Spiritualism – 1887
[3] Proceedings of American Society for Psychical Research – v13 1919

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