My Darling, My Ghost: Turn of the Century Spirit Photography

Paralleling the growing popularity of photography and the rise of Spiritualism at the turn of the century, the late 1800’s and early 1900’s saw an explosion of so-called “spirit photography.” Photography enthusiasts ranging from dedicated mediums to well-known charlatans used a variety of techniques to document hovering ghostly figures and streaming ectoplasm for turn-of-the-century believers. You can read a short history of spirit photography at the Library of Congress, or peruse a collection of the notorious ghost photos by medium William Hope.  Martha Stewart even got into the action in October 2006 with this primer on creating your own ghostly double exposures, a technique little changed from the vintage photos in the gallery below. Enjoy!

Photos via Museum of the Macabre, the US Library of Congress, and the National Media Museum.

Related Posts:

“The Return” by Minna Irving

31 Scary Things #12: Ghosts

Gothic Gloom in the Heart of Paris

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Categories: History (Haunted and Otherwise), Oddities, Paranormal Activities

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20 replies

  1. Thank you for wonderful post. I love 19th century photography. Hope you don’t mind if I share this.

  2. Lovely to see Juliette and Eva interacting :)

  3. It’s so easy to forget how mysterious a medium photography was before the digital age. There was no easy way to ‘photoshop’ something. Such a cool assortment of shots.

    • I’m glad you enjoyed them, Kimberly. :-) It makes me think of the story about people fleeing in terror from very early film screenings. Although our awe may fade as a technology becomes familiar, simple evolution in the medium can be enough to recreate that primal response.

  4. Staged though they may be, many of these photographs are still evocative and intriguing.

  5. Hi there, I’m the founder of the Museum of the Macabre, I see you have used several of our photos which is great, but can you please update the link to our website.

    We are no longer showcasing our collections on the ehive link you have provided. Instead you can find all of our collections at http://macabremuseum.com/collections

    Thanks!

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