Ada Emma Deane
BRITISH spirit photographer, an elderly working woman. In June, 1920, on a photograph taken by her an extra face was discovered. Her psychic career was the subject of much criticism and suspicion owing to her strange habit of keeping the plates by herself for "magnetising." This objection, however, lessened as the years passed by as, since November, 1924, Mrs. Deane in her sittings at the W. T. Stead Borderland Library never had the plates in her possession or handled them in any way before the sitting. It was, however, discovered even before that if the plates, unknown to herself, were exchanged the supernormal effects appeared just the same.
The Journal of the ASPR registered in 1921 a remarkable sitting which Dr. Allerton Cushman, Director of the National Laboratories of Washington, had with Mrs. Deane. He obtained on his own plate a striking portrait of his daughter who died the previous year. In the following year the Occult Committee of the Magic Circle published a report in which they claimed to have exposed Mrs. Deane. Wide publicity was given in the daily Press to Mrs. Deane's experiment in taking a photograph, on November 11, 1922, during the two minutes silence at the Cenotaph in Whitehall. She was assisted by Miss Estelle Stead. Many spirit faces appeared on the plate. The experiment was repeated three successive years. Recognition was claimed in several cases. A remarkable communication was received by
H. Dennis Bradley from the spirit of his brother-in-law, W.A., as regards the photograph taken in 1923. As told in
Towards the Stars the communicator said in the direct voice that he was in the right hand side of the photograph, not very low down. On the following day Bradley obtained a copy of the photograph. To his astonishment, among the fifty spirit heads visible in the picture, he found one in the position described which, under the microscope, revealed a surprising likeness to W.A. Further, the 1924 picture drew extraordinary revelations. The Topical Press Agency declared in a statement that the spirit extras were faked reproductions of their
well-known photographs of living sportsmen. The exposure was published in the
Daily Sketch, but the story was never fully told. Estelle W. Stead in her booklet,
Faces of the Living Dead prints some unpublished documents. Among them Sir
Arthur Conan Doyle's letter to the editor of the
Daily Sketch in which he says that the two sets of faces, published in the
Daily Sketch were submitted by him to Sir Arthur Keith, the greatest authority upon anthropometric matters and he said in his reply:
"Not one of the photographs reproduced by the
Daily Sketch is identical with any of the representations or photos reproduced in the spirit photographs."
Estelle Stead herself gives the following testimony in the book:
"I have known Mrs. Deane and worked with her for the last four years and have the highest regard for her honesty and integrity of purpose. I know her cameras well, both inside and out, having examined them so
often - also the dark slides used for these sittings. Both cameras and slides are continually left in my studio for days together, and I and others have plenty of opportunities to examine them at our leisure. The plates are always developed in my dark-room, and
I can assure those doughty champions who explain so glibly how these are "faked" that there are no developing dishes with transparent xylonite bases let into the dark room table, nor any concealed electric lights in my dark room. We use porcelain dishes, which are washed out after every sitting."
Dr. Hereward Carrington writes in the
Journal of the ASPR, May, 1925, of his experiences with Mrs. Deane on September 5, 1921:
"Upon six of my plates curious marks appeared. On two plates these marks are mere smudges, which are not evidential, though I think curious. On the next plate, however, the result is quite striking. I had silently willed that a shaft of white light should emerge from my right shoulder, and appear on the plate. Sure enough, upon development, a column of white light, surmounted by a sort of psychic cabbage, was distinctly visible. It will be remembered that this was upon my own plate, placed in the camera, and afterwards removed and developed by myself. The odd thing to my mind is why I should have willed so curious a thing: what prompted me to wish for it? Was it a pure thought photograph? Or did some external intelligence first of all impress upon my mind this idea, and afterwards produce the image upon the plate? A very similar result was obtained by a friend of mine, Miss M., the following year at a sitting with Mrs. Deane. She was looking intently at her own hand and thinking about it, during the exposure of the plate (thinking of her new ring, as a matter of fact, which had just been given to her) and when the plate was developed, a hand appeared on the sitter's head, surrounded by an ectoplasmic cloud. The resemblance to her own hand is quite striking, and it is certainly a feminine hand."
Next year Dr. Carrington obtained further curious results, peculiar comet-like lights and a woman's face on his own plates. They were secretly marked by
X-rays but as they had been kept for some time previously in Mrs. Deane's possession he did not accept the pictures as evidential.
"Nevertheless," he writes, "I am inclined to regard these results with considerable interest for two reasons. In the first place, if these plates had been
'doctored' by Mrs. Deane in her own home, before the sitting, she would almost certainly have imprinted faces upon the plates instead of these bizarre lights, it seems to me. Further, knowing that Dr. Cushman was to have a sitting, and knowing of her own brilliant success in producing, at a previous
sťance, under excellent conditions, a psychic extra recognised by Dr. Cushman and members of his family as his daughter Agnes (the case is a celebrated one) she would, I submit, have seen to it that "Agnes" appeared upon at least one of these
plates - and yet no Agnes appeared. Again, these lights are intrinsically striking, interesting, when studied
Proceedings, Vol. XLI, 1933, Mr. Fred Barlow, in a report on psychic photography charges Mrs. Deane with fraud.
Source (with minor modifications):
An Encyclopaedia of Psychic Science by Nandor Fodor (1934).