|Mrs. H.F. Stuart, ca. 1865|
William H. Mumler made the first known spirit photograph in 1862, a self-portrait which purportedly revealed the ghost of his cousin. Realizing the potential of this method, he went into business as a spirit medium, taking people's photographs and doctoring them to add images of the deceased.
|The Personal Experiences of William H. Mumler (1875).|
Interest in spirit photography continued into the early twentieth century. Its advocates included the author Arthur Conan Doyle, best known for his Sherlock Holmes stories. Doyle became a fervent believer in spiritualism after the deaths of several family members. In 1923, he published The Case for Spirit Photography to argue that spirit photographs provided insurmountable technological evidence of the spirit world.
|Arthur Conan Doyle, The Case for Spirit Photography (1923).|
"Do You Believe? The Mumler Mystery," online exhibit from The American Museum of Photography.
Louis, Kaplan. The Strange Case of William Mumler, Spirit Photographer. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2008.