Posted by: mahoganycloud | October 18, 2012

The Ghost of the Mother

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Here is a tintype photograph of an infant and the “ghost of death” shadowing  it. I mean–you can interpret this picture in that way due to the fact that infant/child mortality was high due to birth defects, or exposure to an environment (water and food) that was contaminated from poor sanitary conditions. But another interpretation of the “hidden mother” is simply there is a mother in the picture, hidden under some sheet, trying to avoid appearing conspicuous in a picture with the child as the main focus. But because the photographic technology during that time was not as advance, and the mother was there to hold the child in place for the time it took to get the picture done. Take a look at the blurred right hand of the child due to movement; we can tell that this child could not sit still. The mother hold’s the child down so that a photo can be taken, which will memorialize the likeness of the child that may not live past childhood.


  1. We will be looking at these ghost mother photographs later in the semester and juxtaposing them with representations of mothers in Victorian advertising and in the experimental photography of Julia Margaret Cameron. Glad you posted this! These photographs are wacky and eerie but also fascinating.

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