The Daguerreian Society Talk Series – 2021

The Daguerreian Society is offering a new series of weekly online talks, on Zoom, that span the history, artistry, and technology of the daguerreotype and other 19th century photographs. We already have an impressive slate of talks by renowned experts, collection tours, and other topics as they develop. We will add new talks here as they are scheduled.

Unless otherwise noted, each week a $25.00 tax-deductible donation to The Daguerreian Society (a tax-exempt, non-profit 501(c)3 organization) will enable participation in the Zoom presentation.

On the morning of the talk each participant will receive an email with the Zoom information including a unique passcode that we ask you not to share. Access to each talk will be by screen, not by person, so you can invite others to join you in person as you watch the presentation.

We have a primer on using Zoom here.

In addition, participants will be able to access high-quality video of the presentation, made available a few days after the presentation itself. Each video is accessed using the password sent the day of the presentation. If you are unable to attend a presentation live, you can  donate for it later, be sent the password, and watch on your own schedule. If you donate but misplace your password, contact talks@daguerreiansociety.org for a replacement. Passwords never expire, and can be used to watch a video multiple times.

Would you like to give a talk? We are soliciting proposals. Click here for more information.

If you have ideas or specific interests for presentations you'd like to see, please email talks@daguerreiansociety.org, post in our Facebook Group "The Daguerreian Society", or add to the blog on The Daguerreian Society's web site.

Upcoming Presentations

Saturday March 6, 1:30 pm Eastern time: The Civil War: Battle of the Images

Panel discussion with Kevin CranbergWes Cowan, and Mike Medhurst

Witness the US Civil War through the treasured favorite images of three top experts — collector Kevin Canberg, auctioneer/historian Wes Cowan, and noted collector/dealer Mike Medhurst.

Discover a view of the nation-shaping conflict that’s more personal, more intimate, and often more spirited than the widely circulated photographs of Brady, Gardner, and Barnard.

See spectacular ambrotypes, tintypes, CDVs and other images that allow a few privileged private collectors to own a unique connection to the Civil War — pieces of history that can be held in the palm of the hand.

Register for this LIVE online Saturday talk and you’ll be amazed by these seldom-seen images — and hear for yourself how top collectors and dealers select and evaluate the rarest of the rare in Civil War photography.

Donate here to watch The Civil War: Battle of the Images live on March 6. The $25 fee for this talk is a fully tax deductible contribution to The Daguerreian Society.

Previous Presentations

Saturday February 27, 1:30 pm Eastern time: John Wood: United States Capitol Photographer (1856-1864)

Presented by Adrienne Lundgren

In May of 1856, John Wood became the United States’ first federal government photographer.  Assigned to photograph the building of the Capitol Extension and Dome, Wood was uniquely positioned to capture not only the progress of the construction but also key events on its grounds, including two presidential inaugurations, James Buchanan in 1857 and Abraham Lincoln in 1861.  Wood’s images were often distributed as a means to garner political and financial support for the Capitol building project.  In keeping with their use, Wood framed his works as both documentary and as a means of capturing the Emersonian ideals of America as a place of, “beginnings, of projects, of designs and expectations.”

Adrienne Lundgren, Senior Photograph Conservator at the Library of Congress, will be discussing this important and virtually unknown figure in American photography, covering Wood’s Capitol images and his time in the Civil War with the Army of the Potomac.

  • Top: John Wood, The Inauguration of Mr. Lincoln, March 4, 1861, salted paper print, Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress.
  • Bottom: John Wood, The Capitol as a barrack, salted paper print, Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress.

Adrienne Lundgren is a Senior Photograph Conservator in the Library of Congress Conservation Division. She earned her Master of Science in Art Conservation from the University of Delaware and has published on variety of subjects relating to the technical history of photography. Her publications include the techniques used by Pictorialist photographer Clarence H. White, the history of glycerine in the printing of platinum and palladium photographs, and the historic use of coatings applied to daguerreotypes. In 2012, She was a recipient of the John W. Kluge Staff Fellowship to study the Library’s collection of prints by F. Holland Day. Her current work is on John Wood, the Amateur Photographic Exchange Club, and photographer John Plumbe Jr.

If you missed John Wood and his Photographs at the US Capital and would like access, you can donate here and will be sent the password.

Link to video (you will need to supply the password for the presentation; open the link in a new window to watch the video full screen).

Saturday February 13, 1:30 pm Eastern time: Black Lives in Focus: Selections from the Ross J. Kelbaugh Collection of African American History

Presented by Ross Kelbaugh

Background: Ross J. Kelbaugh began collecting Civil War photographs in the 1960s and his focus broadened when he began collecting daguerreotypes in 1971. He is a charter member of the Daguerreian Society and contributor to The Daguerreian Annual. He was the guest curator and lecturer for the “Securing the Shadows: The Daguerreotype in Maryland” exhibit for the 2012 Daguerreian Symposium at the Maryland Historical Society. He holds a BA from the University of Maryland and MLA from Johns Hopkins University. His publications include The Directory of Maryland Photographers: 1839-1900, Introduction to Civil War Photographs, Introduction to African American Photographs: 1840-1950, and Maryland’s Civil War Photographs: The Sesquicentennial Collection in 2012. He also guest curated the exhibition and wrote the catalogue for the Maryland Historical Society’s 2006 landmark exhibit “The Civil War in Maryland: An Exhibit of Rare Photographs.” For the last ten years he has served as an on-air appraiser for Maryland Public Television’s “Chesapeake Collectibles.” Though retired from teaching American history, he continues as an active collector and researcher today while working on a new book about The Ross J. Kelbaugh Collection of African American History.

A major focus of his collecting over the last 45 years has been African American photographs. Living in Maryland, much of the collection has a local connection as well creating a resource that is a visual history of the African American experience spanning from the daguerreian era into the twentieth century. Some of the collection are illustrated in my landmark book Introduction to African American Photographs: 1845-1950, the first book to ever focus on the collection and research of African American photographs. Today the collection now numbers over 500 photographs, prints, documents, books, and other three-dimensional objects. Several images originally from the collection now reside in the Library of Congress and National Museum of African American History and Culture. An effort has currently been undertaken for the placement of The Kelbaugh Collection in a major institution.

Program Summary: This program will present a selection of African American daguerreotypes, cartes de visite, melainotypes, stereoviews and cabinet cards from the Ross J. Kelbaugh Collection assembled over 45 years spanning from the daguerreian era through the Civil War. The collection, which includes the largest number of portraits of enslaved Marylanders, will focus on the collecting and the researching of the stories behind many of the African Americans recorded in these images. Some of these are featured in his new book series Black Lives in Focus: Selections from the Ross J. Kelbaugh Collection. A review of some of the resources used to research images will also be discussed. Several recent discoveries and a collecting opportunity will also be revealed publicly for the first time.

If you missed Black Lives in Focus: Selections from the Ross J. Kelbaugh Collection of African American History and would like access, you can donate here and will be sent the password.

Link to video (you will need to supply the password for the presentation; open the link in a new window to watch the video full screen).

Saturday February 6, 1:30 pm Eastern time: Captain Prickitt's Photo Album

Presented by Shayne Davidson

Identified photographs of African-American soldiers from the Civil War are incredibly rare. Captain William A. Prickitt, a New Jersey-born white officer in the United States Colored Troops (USCT) owned miniature album containing gem tintype photos of 17 men under his command during the war.

The captain treasured the album and passed it down to his descendants. Decades after his death in 1929, his great granddaughter inherited it and carefully stored it away in a box in her kitchen pantry. She shared the photos with me while I was working on a family tree of her family.

The photographer’s identity is unknown, but in order to preserve the men’s identities for posterity, Captain Prickitt wrote each man’s name on the paper mat that held each photo. I was fascinated by the photos and realized that having the name provided a unique opportunity to find out more about the men.

At first I was just curious, but as I discovered more details I decided to create a family tree for each man. Next I embarked on creating a life-sized, colored pencil portrait of each man, using his tiny photograph as a starting point.

Over a six-month period I completed 17 life-sized portraits: one for every man in the album. Then I wrote a brief biography, based on my genealogical research, to accompany the portrait.

Captain Prickitt’s descendants donated the album to the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture in 2016, where it is currently on display.

The talk focuses on who the men were and the documents I used to research their lives.

Shayne Davidson is an author, artist, genealogist and vintage photography collector. Her exhibit of portraits and bios of the men in Captain Prickitt’s album, titled Seventeen Men, opens February 12, 2021 at the Lewes Historical Society in Lewes, Delaware.

If you missed Captain Prickitt's Photo Album and would like access, you can donate here and will be sent the password.

Link to video (you will need to supply the password for the presentation; open the link in a new window to watch the video full screen).

Saturday January 30th, 1:30 pm Eastern time: The History of Dolls in 19th Century Images

Presented by Jennifer Craft-Hurst

Jennifer Craft-Hurst uses images from her own collection of early photography, to give a brief history of dolls in the 19th Century. From early dolls of papier mache and wax to the finest bisque dolls in the Golden Age of doll making this presentation follows the growth of the beloved child's toy and photographer's studio prop to the loveliest form of art in competition at the Universal Expositions.

Jennifer Craft-Hurst, though relatively new to early photography, has been collecting dolls for over 40 years. The daughter of antiques collectors, Jennifer was that rare 8 year old who begged for the Madame Alexander doll, then kept her mint-in-box, wanting to ensure she never lost her value. After college, Jennifer moved to Paris, where she spent her weekends at the Marches aux Puces learning all she could about the French bisque, Golden Age dolls she dreamed of owning.

Jennifer has worked in radio and television advertising for over 20 years. She co-wrote a book on French Art Glass, has written numerous articles for "Antique Doll Collector" and "Doll News" magazines, and has been a featured speaker at the United Federation of Doll Clubs Annual Convention. After realizing that daguerreotypes and ambrotypes were easier to fit in a cabinet, Jennifer expanded her collecting interests into the world of early photography.

If you missed The History of Dolls in 19th Century Images and would like access, you can donate here and will be sent the password.

Link to video (you will need to supply the password for the presentation; open the link in a new window to watch the video full screen).

Saturday January 23th, 1:30 pm Eastern time: Minnehaha Falls: A 19th Century History in Images

Presented by Karen E. Cooper

Throughout the 19th century, a pretty little waterfall was the most famous place in Minnesota, that northern state in the far reaches of the Great Northwest. On the frontier and as the frontier moved west, Minnehaha Falls was as famous as Niagara. Visitors came by the tens of thousands to see this picturesque and perfect gem of a waterfall. Its fame only increased when Longfellow included this place in his poem “The Song of Hiawatha.”

But it was photography that preserved that fame and the public’s reverence for Minnehaha. To tell the early photographic history of Minnehaha Falls is to weave together the stories of the great panoramas of the Mississippi; the influence of Longfellow, America’s favorite poet; daguerreians Alexander Hesler and Joel Whitney; and the frontier photographers who followed in their footsteps.

Karen E. Cooper has followed an undoubtedly-familiar path from accumulator to collector to researcher to expert. Her collection of Minnehaha Falls images is unsurpassed. In studying the earliest images of the Falls, she has added to the biographies of early photographers. She has also discovered the lost history of Minnehaha Falls, wherein rowdy behavior and criminal hijinks threatened to overrun the public’s love for this place. Her book “When Minnehaha Flowed with Whiskey” is scheduled for Spring 2022 by the Minnesota Historical Society Press.

Karen has also written for Minneapolis newspapers, writing photo-histories, house histories, and restaurant reviews. Besides working as a photo-historian, Karen’s other passion is in philanthropy and working with non-profits to raise money.

If you missed Minnehaha Falls: A 19th Century History in Images and would like access, you can donate here and will be sent the password.

Link to video (you will need to supply the password for the presentation; open the link in a new window to watch the video full screen).

Saturday January 16th, 1:30 pm Eastern time: Greg French's Collection of Early African American Photography

Presented by Greg French

Greg will provide an overview of his collection of African American photography, with an emphasis on the earlier material, especially the daguerreotype, ambrotype and carte de visite formats. He’ll give insight into his choices and discuss the background and significance of some of the images.

Greg French began collecting antique photography including images of African Americans in 1981. In 1999, Mr. French was the biggest private lender to the groundbreaking PBS documentary ‘Africans in America.” In 2003 in conjunction with the Daguerreian Society Symposium he curated an exhibition from his collection entitled “Positive Images: Early African American Photographs” at Iocovozzi Fine Art in Savannah Georgia, with the assistance of Mark Johnson. Greg was co-founder of the multi-media project ‘Mirror Of Race’ with Gregory Fried and Derek Burrows. Recently Mr. French assembled a panel on African American images for the 2020 Daguerreian Society Symposium. He has lent images to many books, documentaries and exhibitions.

If you missed Greg French's Collection of Early African American Photography and would like access, you can donate here and will be sent the password.

Link to video (you will need to supply the password for the presentation; open the link in a new window to watch the video full screen).

Saturday January 9th, 1:30 pm Eastern time: Exploring the 1851 NGC 5-Plate Daguerreotype Panorama of San Francisco

Presented by Nick Wright

Join Nick Wright on a journey back in time to experience ultra-high resolution views of the Gold Rush San Francisco with wide panoramic views over the City. Mr. Wright has painstakingly recreated the early panorama by assembling the 1851 NGC multi-plate daguerreotypes of the nascent city as it developed. The location of the NGC panorama will be explored and the center plate recreated. We will also see the actual store ships in the Yerba Buena Cove before they were destroyed by fire in 1851. This is an amazing chance to see old San Francisco like never before.

Nick Wright is the founder of the History Alliance with 850,000 members including San Francisco History, US History. His specialty is in early San Francisco panoramic photography by Watkins, Muybridge, and W. H. Jackson etc.

If you missed Exploring the 1851 NGC 5-Plate Daguerreotype Panorama of San Francisco and would like access, you can donate here and will be sent the password.

Link to video (you will need to supply the password for the presentation; open the link in a new window to watch the video full screen).


Presentations from 2020, including those from The Daguerreian Society's 2020 Symposium, are available here.


 

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