Early History of Photography

William Henry Fox Talbot (1800-1877), Some Account of the Art of Photogenic Drawing (London: Printed by R. and J.E. Taylor, 1839) Graphic Arts Collection (GA) Oversize TR144 .T34 1839q

In January of 1838, news reached William Henry Fox Talbot (1800-1877) in London that Louis-Jacques-Mandé Daguerre (1787-1851) had announced his direct positive process to the Academy of Sciences in Paris. Talbot rush to present and publish his own findings and on January 31, Talbot read a brief paper before the Royal Society in London. Several weeks later, he spoke again at length about the process that he called photogenic drawing.

Unfortunately, the Society declined to publish his research on photography in their Transactions and it was not until the following year that the paper found its way into print (shown here). This brochure constitutes the first separate publication on photography.

Inside the copy held at Princeton University is a letter from Sir Edward Brewster (Principal of St Andrew’s University and Chancellor of Edinburgh) who was an amateur photographer and writes about the calotype process.

William Henry Fox Talbot (1800-1877), The Process of Calotype Photogenic Drawing: communicated to the Royal Society, June 10th, 1841 ([London]: Printed by J.L. Cox & Sons, [ca. 1841]) Graphic Arts Collection (GA) TR395 .T34

It was not until 1841 that Talbot finally introduced the calotype process. Talbot again spoke to the Royal Society and the document pictured here is the publication of this “memoir” or talk presented on the creation of photography.

Princeton University holds many seminal publications on the history of photography from around the world. Also pictured here is the 1851 paper published by Louis Désiré Blanquart-Evrard (1802-1872), introducing his variation on the calotype entitled Traité de photographie sur papier.

Louis Désiré Blanquart-Evrard (1802-1872), Traité de photographie sur papier (Paris: Librairie Encyclopédique de Roret, 1851).Princeton copy: Stamp of Camera Club Library, catalogued & indexed 1930 by Hal. D. Bernstein, librarian, gift of David H. McAlpin, Princeton Class of 1920. Graphic Arts Collection (GAX), 2006-3102N