This ghostly photograph is from 1899 and is part of a scrapbook depicting Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory that was made by Harry Perkins. Harry Perkins, a native Vermonter born in 1877, came under the influence of Charles Davenport and was active in the American Eugenics Society. Harry Perkins gave the scrapbook to Ada Watterson Yerkes, who took a summer course at Cold Spring Harbor. In 1966, Ada’s daughter Roberta Watterson Yerkes donated the scrapbook to the Laboratory.
We are unsure where the photograph was taken, possibly in Hooper House or Wawepex Building.
The photograph was created using “manipulated photography” which may have used any of the following processes: multiple exposure (taking two or more pictures on a single negative), combination printing (producing a single print from elements of two or more negatives), photomontage and retouching on the negative or print.
Regardless of how it was made, it is certainly an interesting and spooky photo for its time!
An Act for Human Betterment by Voluntary Sterilization: the effect of culture on biology in turn-of-the-century Vermont by Ariel Singer:
First Major Exhibition Devoted to History of Manipulated Photography Before Digital Age Opens at Metropolitan Museum