Harvard University Acquires Two Daguerreotype Images of Antebellum African Americans

Harvard University has acquired two daguerreotypes likely produced in the 1840s or 1850s. The images, preserved on silver-coated copper plates, show an unidentified black man and a black woman in what is thought to be an urban setting. The man and woman appear to be prosperous.

The daguerreotype process, first developed in France in the 1830s, produced the world’s first photographic images. Harvard has more than 3,500 daguerreotypes, including a collection of images of South Carolina slaves assembled by naturalist and Harvard faculty member Louis Agassiz.