Peter Manseau - The Apparitionists: A Tale of Phantoms, Fraud, Photography, and the Man Who Captured Lincoln's Ghost

Upcoming Event
Sunday, October 15, 2017 at 5:00 pm

The American Civil War was something of a proving ground for photography, first with Matthew Brady’s groundbreaking battlefield photos and later with the post-war boom in “spirit photography.” Promoted by William Mumler (1832-1884), a jeweler turned photographer, the trend catered to grieving relatives, including Mary Todd Lincoln, who sought a tangible connection to lost loved ones. While the limits of the new medium were as yet unknown, many were skeptical of Mumler’s images, especially the one that seemed to show Lincoln afloat behind his widow, and Mumler was tried for fraud. Manseau, a Smithsonian fellow, award-winning novelist, and author of nonfiction narrative histories including One Nation, Under Gods, chronicles a fascinating and little-known chapter of American history.

 

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