Mary Lincoln passed away on July 16, 1882, but it appears that, even as late as 1924, there was some curiosity about the spirit realm still surrounding Mary’s descendants. Enough curiosity, it seems, that world-renowned magician Harry Houdini helped to dispel the notion of at least one “spirit photograph” featuring himself and Abraham Lincoln.
On Feb. 13, 1924, just one day after what would have been Abraham Lincoln’s 115th birthday, Houdini typed out a letter to Mary Edwards Lincoln Brown, the grand-daughter of Ninian and Elizabeth Edwards, Mary Lincoln’s sister. The letter reads:
State Lake Theatre, Chicago, Ill. Feb. 13, 1924.
Mrs. Mary Edwards Lincoln Brown,Lincoln Homestead,Springfield, Ill.
My dear Mrs. Brown:
Enclosed you will find Spirit Photograph of your renowned ancestor, and although the Theomonistic Society in Washington, D.C. claim that it is a genuine spirit photograph, as I made this one, you have my word for it, that it is only a trick effect.
Mrs. Houdini joins me in sending you kindest regards,
[From Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum]