Sunday, March 29, 2009

Welcome To Weekend With Shades - March 29

A Monthly - Weekend With Shades - Column

We've discussed previously the Scopes Monkey Trial. Likewise, The issue of "spirit photography" has been dealt with previously at Shades of the Departed in some detail. But spirit photography had its own "monkey trial" some 56 years before Darrow and Bryan squared off in Dayton, Tennessee. In many ways, cultural and political, a pretrial hearing in Manhattan in 1869 presaged the battle between secularism and deism in the 1920's.

The "practice" of spirit photography became popular with the rise of Spiritualism as a belief system in the 1860s. The"discoverer " of spirit photography was one William H. Mumler of Boston and New York. In 1869, Mumler was arrested and charged with fraud, arising out of his spirit photography. This is the story of the unusual legal proceedings in Mumler's case.


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