William H. Mumler’s Studios
Research Post
January 12, 2023
258 Washington St., Boston, MA (1861 - 1868) Mumler's first studio was located at 258 Washington St., Boston, MA. It was here, at the studio of Mrs. Helen F. Stuart, he began experimenting with photography and discovered spirit photographs. Customers would enter a reception room on the lower level which contained a sofa and had framed spirit photographs on display. The sitting room was located upstairs. Located directly under a skylight was the camera with a chair in front of it. The room was separated with ordinary partitions and had a simple background. Off to the side of the sitting room was a dark room where negatives were developed and stored on a shelf.[1] 630 Broadway, New York, NY (1868…
Mumler – Seeking Spirit Photographers Advertisement
The Herald of Progress
December 20, 1862
An advertisement by William H. Mumler in the December 20th, 1862 edition of The Herald of Progress seeking spirit photographers. The advertisement states "artists . . . who have ever received, upon a negative, any spiritual manifestations, will please communicate".
Spirit Photograph Auction
November 6, 1909
An advertisement in the November 6th, 1909 edition of Light offering for sale a collection of spirit photographs. The collection contained over 300 photographs from famed spirit photographers including Mumler, Parkes, Reeves, and Buguet. The advertisement states it is "a most complete and valuable collection, many of the photographs being unobtainable elsewhere".
Mumler – “Proof of Spirit Identity”
Banner of Light
August 17, 1872
A correspondence from Mrs T. B. Cranz printed in the August 17th, 1872 edition of Banner of Light endorsing spirit photographer William H. Mumler and slate medium Dr. Slade. Cranz states she went to the slate medium and received a message from her deceased relatives. The slates directed her to go to Mr. Mumler so that they could reveal themselves. After sitting with Mumler she recognized two of the spirits in the photograph which she stated were "proofs of spirit communication".
Feature: The History of Spirit Photography
Research Post
August 3, 2020
EARLY PHOTOGRAPHY Spirit photography originated with the invention of the daguerrotype in 1839. The daguerrotype process required individuals to pose for as long as 30 seconds before their portrait fully developed. Since people often shifted positions during the sitting, blurred and transparent images were frequently produced. An 1840s daguerreotype portrait of an unidentified male subject. His eyes appear glassy due to blinking during the sitting. BREWSTER’S GHOSTS The earliest account of a ghost photograph appears in Sir David Brewster's 1856 book The Stereoscope: It’s History, Theory, and Construction. In the text, Brewster describes how he was developing a daguerreotype when his subject moved and created a blurry image. He goes on to suggest that if a white clothed figure is…