|The House dedicated to ghosts and "spirit" photographing Main Page Home
This true story appeared in a newspaper dated November 12, 1922. According to a dictionary, a haunted house is a place sub-jected to visitations from the world of spirits. In the popular imagination it is a ramshackle wooden structure, with wooden win-
dows invaded by the branches of trees through the tops of which the wind soughs in melancholy manner, or a dilapidated brick
structure, stern and forbidden, with cold marble floors and metal banisters clammy and terrible to the visitors' touch.
But over in London, which seems to be just now the mecca of those who have been caught in the war-inspired interest in spirits
and psychic manifestations, they have a different conception of a dwelling inhabited by the souls of those who have seperated
from the fleshly envelope called the body. They have neither terror nor curiosity for such a habitation. In fact, they have given
ghosts a headquarters. In the 200 year residence in old Smith Square of Miss Estelle Stead, daughter of W.T. Stead has been
turned over to ghosts and this winter it is to be dedicated with formal ceremonies.
Thus the invisible have been given a headquarters where they may meet and hold converse with those in the flesh. The spirit of
the departed owner of the mansions will preside when the spirits hold a meeting. That he has never left the dwelling is the state-
ment of his daughter. And to prove this assertion she has the photograph showing the presence of her father's spirit in the
library of his late residence when the spirit photographer snapped him. The library also has been turned over to the ghosts. It is
here that Miss Stead and her friends who believe in ghosts hold their seances. Around its walls are book shelves holding a
thousand volumes on the subject of spiritualism. All of these are offered as a sort of public library on things ghostly.
The members of Miss Stead's circle are professional business and wealthy folk who will give you sincere and very convincing
testimony to the truth of their statements that ghosts are ghosts and can and do make themselves visible and communicative
at the proper time and place. What they have done, they'll inform you, is merely to give their friends the proper place and times
when they may so manifest themselves. They speak of the coming visit to headquarters of this or that ghost in the tone of
voice that one who doesn't believe in spirits might announce the coming of a cousin by marriage, They become wroth only when
"double exposure" or "double negatives" is suggested as an explanation of the weird "spirit" photographs, two of which appear
on this page.
But as the "spirit" photograph on this page bears witness, belief in ghosts has almost as much strength here in America as in England. Many of the most concervative thinkers and persons known as unbelievers have been convinced that there is some-
thing to it. Among those are the witnesses to the taking of the forementioned "spirit" photograph of the late Prof. Hyslop, pro-
duced in the course of an investigation conducted by Dr Walter F. Prince, chief investigator of the Physical Research Society. When they exhibit this photograph they will remind you, with a pardonable ring of triumph in their voices, that Prof. Hyslop is
the same psychologist and spiritualist that promised that he would return after death and disclose himself to those who have
faith. They will also recall to your mind the report that a week after his death he appeared at a banquet held in his honor and
gave an automatic message through one of the psychic guests.
The circumstances attendant on the "spirit" photograph of the late professor Hyslop are enough to give even the most incre-
dulous pause. It was taken in the home of Dr. Edward F. Bowers of no. 225 West End Avenue, New York City. Those present included Dr Bowers, Miss Marie Haviland, a trained nurse, whose hypnotized mind conjured the supposed ghost; Mrs Robert
T. Scott, who did'nt believe in ghosts; Miss Eleanor Ramos and Walter A. Roberts. The photographer, William M. van der Weyde, who took the picture was a wholly disinterested party to the act. He was called in because he was known to be an expert in
his line and he was given the plates for the exposure five minutes before he actually took the picture. He declares that after
he made the exposure the plates were taken from him by the committee to be locked up overnight. In the morning they were
brought to him in the studio, where they developed them in the presence of the committee, and disclosed the "ghost."
But, in order to prove once and for all that spirits can be "caught" by a sensitized photographic plate, Miss Stead, in addition to
throwing open her library of 1000 books on spirits, will, this winter, open to the public a private studio she is having constructed
at some expense in the old garden to the rear of her home in which every facility for photographing spirits will be installed and
every possible trickery will be eliminated.
Unlike the great majority of those who are enthusiastic in the post-war psyhic-phenomena, Miss Stead and her late father
entertained ghosts long before the death of millions in the war accelerated the spiritist movement to its present unprecedented
popularity. She says, she has received numerous visits from the other side.
"My experiences with ghosts have been very agreeable," she says. "The first one who called on me was a poet named Gordon
Knight, who lived in the house 200 years ago. He called shortly after we moved in. I was awakened in the night by the violent
slamming of a door. Then i heard someone are rather, felt someone, enter the room. As i looked i saw the figure of a man
garbed in the style of another period, a huge soft hat and a black cloak being the outstanding features of his dress, walk into
the beam of moonlight. He walked to my writing desk and began to write. I was not terrified. Finally he arose and vanished."
Miss Stead declares that her father visits her regularly.
But convincing as are these photographs and the statements of witnesses who saw them taken, there are those who claim
that the so-called "spirit" pictures are faked either by double exposure of the plate by means of an X-ray or by the old trick of
the double negative. By the latter device the expert photographer is enabled to present pictorial "proof" of New York with
water-filled streets and to make possible the visual paradox of some star in the motion pictures simultaneously playing three
The Scientific American, October issue (of that time), contains an "exposure" of "spirit" photographing. James Black, the
writer, is unsparing in his criticism of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, who has exposed the research movement into "spirit" photo-
graphy. He cites how William Hope, the leading psychic photographer of Great Britain, who Sir Arthur sponsored and vouched
for was "exposed." A Mr. Marriot, a London photographic expert, challenged Hope to a test sitting, but never got it. But another
investigator did, however, arrange for a fake picture. This is how black describes what happened:
"Mr. Edward Bush, a member of the S.P.R. (British), aranged a seance with Hope and sent him a photograph of a man Hope
presumed to be dead. At the first sitting a spirit message came through, the second produced a spirit picture of the subject
of the photograph. This is doubly remarkable; the subject was son-in-law of Mr. Bush, who was alive and well. The message
received was in the same handwriting as that of numerous other messages received through the same agency, and carried
the same error in spelling too. This message has been admitted to be a forgery; but Hope and his adherents still insist that
the picture is quite genuine."
The "spirit" portrait of the late Prof. Hyslop which appeared on a photograph taken by a disinterested photographer, William M.
van der Weyde. He made it at a seance in which Marie Haviland, a trained nurse, was placed in a trance, as shown in the fore-
ground. A committee supervised the photographing. The members were: Walter A. Roberts (Left foreground); Dr F. Bowers, in whose home the picture was taken (Left background); Miss Eleanor Ramos and Mrs Robert T. Scott.
Source. The Morning Tulsa daily world., November 12, 1922.