A Portrait of Immortality, Faded (The New Yorker)


What started as a way for Augustus Washington to earn tuition money for Dartmouth in 1843 became an extraordinary career of using the daguerreotype camera to document history, writes Muchelle Nijhuis in a New Yorker story about daguerreotype photography. Daguerreotype, the first practicable method of obtaining pictures with a camera, created highly detailed images on sheets of copper plated with a thin coat of silver without using a negative. The invention was publicly announced to the world in 1839.

Among other historic moments, Washington photographed the effort by former American slaves to build a free republic in West Africa. Today, writes Nijhuis, “Washington’s portraits of Liberian colonists are among the few surviving images of a strange political experiment.”

Read the full story, published 7/31/13 by The New Yorker.

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