1860s "Spirit" Photographer William Mumler w/ Peter Manseau - A True Crime History Podcast


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By Erik Rivenes and Blue Ewe Media. Discovered by Player FM and our community — copyright is owned by the publisher, not Player FM, and audio is streamed directly from their servers. Hit the Subscribe button to track updates in Player FM, or paste the feed URL into other podcast apps.

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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