The Library of Congress
[American Memory]

America's First Look into the Camera: Daguerreotype Portraits and Views, 1839 - 1864

Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress

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The Library's daguerreotype collection consists of more than 725 photographs dating from 1839 to 1864. Portrait daguerreotypes produced by the Mathew Brady studio make up the major portion of the collection. The collection also includes early architectural views by John Plumbe, several Philadelphia street scenes, early portraits by pioneering daguerreotypist Robert Cornelius, studio portraits by black photographers James P. Ball and Francis Grice, and copies of painted portraits.
The mission of the Library of Congress is to make its resources available and useful to Congress and the American people and to sustain and preserve a universal collection of knowledge and creativity for future generations. The goal of the Library's National Digital Library Program is to offer broad public access to a wide range of historical and cultural documents as a contribution to education and lifelong learning.

The Library of Congress presents these documents as part of the record of the past. These primary historical documents reflect the attitudes, perspectives, and beliefs of different times. The Library of Congress does not endorse the views expressed in these collections, which may contain materials offensive to some readers.

Special Presentation
Mirror Images: Daguerreotypes at the Library of Congress

Understanding the Collection

About the Collection

Preservation of the Collection

Timeline of the Daguerreian Era

The Daguerreotype Medium

Glossary of Terms Used With Daguerreotypes

Photographers Represented in the Collection

Selected Bibliography

Related Holdings

From the Learning Page
Collection Connections

Working with the Collection

How to Order Photographic Reproductions

Building the Digital Collection

Cataloging the Collection

Copyright and Other Restrictions

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