William H. Mumler ( 1832-1884; active Boston & New York)
Moses A. Dow, Editor of Waverley Magazine, with the Spirit of Mabel Warren.
Albumen print carte de visite, circa 1871.
Moses A. Dow (1810-1886) founded Waverley Magazine in Boston in 1850. The magazine catered to amateur authors and reached a circulation of 50,000 copies before the Civil War. It continued to appear until 1908. Dow published the works of schoolgirls and other young writers; by one account he would print nearly anything that was offered to him free. The tactic made him wealthy, because the friends and relatives of contributors would all purchase copies.
Mabel Warren was a young protege of Dow. She submitted her writing to him in 1862, when she was apparently fresh out of high school. He published her work and hired her as his assistant, a post she held until her death following a brief illness in July of 1870.
Dow was led into spiritualism by his housekeeper, who invited a medium to tea. Barely a week after Mabel's death, Dow felt his deceased assistant was communicating with him. In seance after seance, Dow received messages written mysteriously on slates or in ink on paper. Ultimately, Mabel's spirit directed Dow to Mumler's studio where she promised to appear with a wreath of lilies on her head. Dow explains, "The picture was small, but with the aid of a microscope it was magnified to the natural size of the human face, and in that face I saw the perfect picture of my friend. I was both surprised and delighted and wrote to Mr. Mumler and told him I was perfectly satisfied, and gave him my true name."
For a first-hand account of Dow's voyage through the world of seances and spirit photography, click here to read The Testimony of Moses A. Dow (This reading will open in a new browser window; simply close it to return to this page.)