For the last few years, I’ve been collecting old photos of vintage Halloween costumes—early to mid-19th century, mainly. Despite their earnestness, there’s something deeply unsettling about many of them. The homespun approach only seems to amplify their eerieness, and I find that delightful. That’s not something modern costumes have really been able to replicate.

Since it’s 2019’s spooky month, I sorted through my collection and assembled my favorite for a gallery. None of the photos below are mine. Most are old enough they should be in the public domain. If something looks or seems amiss, please let me know, and I’ll happily correct it. You can click on any photo to view it larger.

If you enjoy these images and want to see more, I highly recommend checking out Ossian Brown’s book Haunted Air. It collects some of these and many more anonymous Halloween photographs from 1875–1955. It’s weird and wonderful and perfect for October.