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In the aftermath of the American Civil War there was a sharp rise of interest from Americans interested in communicating with the dead, and the Spiritualism movement grew increasingly popular. This, combined with the new technology of photography, gave rise to a scam called "spirit photography". The main perpetrator of the fraud was William H. Mumler, who convinced many that he could capture images of lost love ones alongside the living in portrait photographs. Eventually he would face a sensational trial, with even P.T. Barnum testifying against him.
My guest is Peter Manseau, writer and curator of American Religious History at the Smithsonian Institution. His book is called "The Apparitionists: A Tale of Phantoms, Fraud, Photography, and the Man Who Captured Lincoln's Ghost", and he tells the this tale of deception in this latest episode of Most Notorious.
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