New PDF release: The Strange Case of William Mumler, Spirit Photographer
By Louis Kaplan
Within the 1860s, William Mumler photographed ghosts—or so he claimed. Faint photographs of the dearly departed lurked within the history with the dwelling, like his famous photograph of the lately assassinated Abraham Lincoln comforting Mary Todd. The perform got here to be often called spirit images, and a few believed Mumler used to be channeling the useless. Skeptics, despite the fact that, referred to as it a fraudulent trick at the gullible, profiting from the grieving at a time of ache and loss. Mumler’s insistence that his paintings introduced again the useless resulted in a sensational trial in 1869 that was once the debate of the nation.
In The unusual Case of William Mumler, Spirit Photographer, Louis Kaplan brings jointly, for the 1st time, Mumler’s haunting photos, his revealing memoir, and wealthy basic assets, together with newspaper articles and P. T. Barnum’s well-known indictment of Mumler in Humbugs of the World. Kaplan additionally contributes prolonged essays, which provide a historic standpoint of the Mumler phenomena and delve into the sociocultural and theoretical concerns surrounding this bright ghost story.
Mumler’s case was once an early instance of investigative journalism intersecting with a legal trial that, at its essence, set technology opposed to faith. The unusual Case of William Mumler, Spirit Photographer is the definitive source for this certain and interesting second in American historical past and gives insights into today’s ghosts within the computing device.
Read Online or Download The Strange Case of William Mumler, Spirit Photographer (Fesler-Lampert Minnesota Heritage Books) PDF
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Additional resources for The Strange Case of William Mumler, Spirit Photographer (Fesler-Lampert Minnesota Heritage Books)
L e g a l Co n s i d e r a t i o n s In the same way that Mumler’s ghostly developments were enmeshed in the machine (the printing press) of urban tabloid journalism and the commercial desire to crank out sensational stories to sell newspapers, his spirit photographs also were ensnared in the criminal justice system and taken up in the New York City law courts in the spring of 1869 for a preliminary hearing before the Court of Special Sessions at the Tombs Police Court. In this case, another institutional force also was at work: a New York political machine looking to ﬁnd favor with its citizens by rooting out corruption at a time when it needed to distract attention from its own ﬁscal improprieties.
In other words, the photographic journal (and its “reasons”) cannot wipe the slate clean of such uncanny and peculiar stories on account of the constitutive haunting of the photographic medium by ghosts and phantoms. L e g a l Co n s i d e r a t i o n s In the same way that Mumler’s ghostly developments were enmeshed in the machine (the printing press) of urban tabloid journalism and the commercial desire to crank out sensational stories to sell newspapers, his spirit photographs also were ensnared in the criminal justice system and taken up in the New York City law courts in the spring of 1869 for a preliminary hearing before the Court of Special Sessions at the Tombs Police Court.
59 In this way, Townsend was able to challenge the meaning that the prosecution Figure 6. William H. Mumler, “Master Herrod with the Spirits of Europe, Africa, and America,” 1870–72. Reproduced by kind permission of the College of Psychic Studies, London. Introduction — 27 attributed to the twenty images it submitted as evidence and as proof of Mumler’s fraud. For all of the nine purported methods of deceit enumerated in the proceedings, the prosecution still was not able to ﬁgure out how Mumler actually did the trick, and therefore it did not have a case in the end.
The Strange Case of William Mumler, Spirit Photographer (Fesler-Lampert Minnesota Heritage Books) by Louis Kaplan