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Newly discovered photo of Shelby’s Minstrels troupe member P.O. Hudson taken around the time he toured with them 1868-70, after he returned home. Photo was taken by his brother-in-law, Rev. J.H. Harter.

Do you think he’s striking a “minstrel” pose? I’m trying to weigh that against another possibility. Hudson went on to become a star performer at Spiritualist conventions and camp-meetings and Rev. J.H. Harter quit photography and became a star lecturer at these Spiritualist events. So, maybe the pose is related to Spiritualism.

Maybe he’s pretending to be frightened by something he is pointing to. I wonder if it might have been “image 1” of a “spirit photo” and intended to be double-printed with a ghostly image. A major fraud trial concerning a “spirit photographer” named Mumler was big news in 1869.

Photo of P.O. Hudson: http://web.newsguy.com/bruceb/pohudson.htm

“Spirit Photo” example: http://web.newsguy.com/bruceb/spiritphoto.htm

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It appears that the image is most probably related to a spirit photo rather than to minstrelry.  The image alone does not relate to any known minstrel narrative.

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