1942 (ca.): The Wedding Day Ghost

On July 9, 2009, Stephen Wagner posted some photos in the Paranormal Phenomena subsection of the About.com website that he had been sent by a woman only identified as 'Liz.' According to Liz, the picture was taken in 1942, and showed her aunt's wedding day; but it also showed something else.

all pics
Strange details. [Picture sources here]

Liz added that the photo was taken using a box camera, and that it was taken in Jasper, Alabama... then asked for opinions.

        Wagner suspected it was a doctored photo, because the enhanced image seemed too detailed to be a case of pareidolia -- when random objects resemble the shape of a different thing, such as tree limbs and light looking like a ghost -- and the pose of the figure seemed to be too dramatic, as if posed for a horror movie. Liz disagreed, stating that 'these pictures' were taken before she was born, and passed down through the family, therefore she felt the image showed something paranormal. And that's where the story was left at About.com.

        But eight months later, the third image in the set was touring the internet on its own with no backstory in lists of 'true ghost photos'... and by 2012, the photos were appearing in ghost photo collections and on their own with the basic details of 'taken in 1942 in Jasper, Alabama, at a wedding.' So it didn't take long for the pictures and their story to escape the doubt that Wagner had regarding them.

The Real Problem

        Ignoring a lack of shown history on the photo -- it would be nice to know Liz's aunt's name, for example -- there is one aspect to the photos that bothers me completely.

        I have searched high and low; I have compared copies of the images at multiple sites; and I have tried to recover what used to be at the About.com website, which no longer exists as anything more than a copy in the Internet Archives [which didn't save the pictures!]. I have found that there are no large copies of the images in existence that are not simply blown up copies of the images above. Here's the largest copy of the original I could find:


As you can see, it's tiny. Now look what I get if I zoom into this copy and show the same area the ghost is displayed in above:


Now compare that to the common clipped image of the ghost:


        What this demonstrates is that the ghostly closeup above had to have come from a much larger sized copy of the original wedding photo, one with a lot better resolution... and yet that photo doesn't appear to exist on the internet.

        In trying to determine what size photos About.com had originally posted, I ran across a post made on the Ghost Theory website on July 13, 2009, just four days after the originals were posted on the About.com website. Ghost Theory's page on the photo states they got the story from the About.com posting, so it seems very likely the images posted at Ghost Theory are the same copies that used to exist at About.com... and that copy is the one at the top, showing the three images together, which is small.

        All of which implies that the original copies at About.com were just as small, and that they received them at these sizes from Liz. So before I'll start to consider this picture as possibly paranormal, I'll need to -- at the least -- see the complete full sized image, if it exists.

        I'm also curious why Liz told Wagner at About.com, in response to the possibility of picture manipulation: "These pictures were taken before I was born -- that's a long time ago. And when I saw the photos they have never changed." Why did she use a plural noun? There is just one picture, with two closeups... or does she possess three separate photos, all at a different resolution?

        I'm marking this incident, and these photos, as 'Unreliable' as evidence of the paranormal for now. If a better image appears, or more history that can be dug into, I will let you all know.

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