Dr. Isaac Newton Kerlin (1834-1893) was the Assistant Superintendent of the Pennsylvania Training School for Feeble-Minded Children from 1856 to 1862, first located in Germantown and then, Elwyn, Pennsylvania. After one year as a medic during the Civil War, Kerlin returned to serve as Superintendent until 1893.
As part of a fund-raising campaign in 1858, Kerlin published The Mind Unveiled, which Weston Naef called “the first photographically illustrated medical book published in the United States.” It is an unscientific chronicle of Kerlin’s early years working with twenty-two of the young adults living at his institution.
Copies of this book vary as to the images and number of plates that are included. A copy at the Houghton Library holds two photographic prints and Yale’s has none. The newly acquired copy at Princeton University has one varnished salt print taken by Philadelphia photographer Frederick Gutekunst (1831-1917).
According to Michael J. Brody, Director of the Marvin Samson Center for the History of Pharmacy, Gutekunst learned to make daguerreotypes from Robert Cornelius, founder of Philadelphia’s first photographic studio. In 1856, Frederick and his brother opened a studio of their own on Arch Street, which is where Kerlin came in 1858 to hire someone to illustrate his text.
Isaac Newton Kerlin (1834-1893), The Mind Unveiled; or a Brief History of Twenty-Two Imbecile Children (Philadelphia: U. Hunt & Son, 1858). Graphic Arts GAX 2011- in process