The Daguerreian Society

The 2014 Daguerreian Society Symposium will be held in Austin, Texas on September 26-29, 2014.

Hosting institution: the Texas State Library and Archives (website).

The 2014 Daguerreian Society Annual Symposium will be held at the Texas State Library and Archives. Our opening reception will take place here on Friday, September 26, 2014, from 6 to 8 pm, along with an exhibition of early Texas photography.

Additional one-hour tours are are being explored for Friday, September 26th and Monday, September 29th from 9 to 11 am. Details will be posted here as schedules progress.


Symposium Headquarters

Our hotel will be the Sheraton Austin Hotel at the Capitol, at 701 East 11th Street, Austin, Texas 78701.

The Sheraton Austin is a landmark situated in the cultural heart of Austin, next door to the famed Capitol and just steps from the University of Texas, the allure of the Sixth Street/Warehouse District, and Austin's burgeoning business district. It features distinctively modern architecture and majestic views of downtown Austin.

A link for information and our special rate for reservations is here. Phone: (512) 478-1111

Our group rates are only available until August 23, and are subject to availability, so book early!

Useful links: Transportation Options / Interactive map / Driving Directions / Austin Weather


2014 Symposium Guide

The final, printable symposium guide, including schedule, is available in PDF format.


The Outstanding Speakers and Talks for 2014

Mike Robinson
Mike Robinson

The Modern Daguerreotype and Science

In this presentation Mike Robinson will share some of his past and ongoing research into daguerreotype conservation. He will explain how he has used his daguerreotypes to evaluate conservation treatment options, and how the information from modern analytical tools has altered our knowledge of historical daguerreotypes.

Most significantly, Mike and his colleague, Ed Vicenzi, a Smithsonian research scientist who specializes in micro-analysis, have investigated the white haze formation on Southworth and Hawes plates that has caused great concern since the Young America exhibition of 2005. The information learned from a careful characterization of historic daguerreotypes allowed for the replication of the mechanism of deterioration using modern samples, thereby providing a greater understanding of the problem. Mike will explain how the results from this recent work suggest that damage due to the light-sensitivity of daguerreotypes should be reconsidered.

Mike Robinson, past president of the Daguerreian Society, is a contemporary daguerreian artist and teacher.

He works with the AMC collection in Toronto, serving as researcher and conservator. He is a Phd candidate with DeMonfort University in Leicester, UK, and his dissertation is titled The Techniques and Material Aesthetics of the Daguerreotype.

Jane Turano-Thompson
Jane Turano-Thompson

TAKEN: Early Images of the Captivity and Contact Experience in Native American and Non-Native Cultures

The entwining and entangling of the lives of people from different cultures was part of the North American experience from the beginning. By the mid-nineteenth century, these interactions had been intensified by enormous social, political, and economic changes that brought upheaval to everyone's life, whether one was among the newly landed immigrants or people who seemingly had always been here. For Native peoples, these changes brought losses writ large -- in land, livelihood, and eventually in language, dress, and cultural practices. This time of great upheaval coincided with the rise of photography that brought its own profound changes to image-making in America. As photographic processes became increasingly accessible and affordable, the recording of likenesses was possible even in remote locations and by operators of modest skill.

As contact of Native and non-Native inhabitants escalated, so did violent encounters resulting in the taking of captives, by all parties concerned, including white settlers seized by Native Americans, and Native inhabitants taken away from or forced to live unfree on what had been their own land. The stories of these bloody clashes were published in varying forms in the popular press, including the captivity narrative. By the mid-nineteenth century, the photographic medium was occasionally able to capture the images of some of those taken prisoner and subsequently, though rarely, found.

These images help to reveal the effects of conflicts embedded in the lives of those who witnessed them as well as cultural biases of the times in which they were made. Consideration is given to reluctant sitters as well as willing participants in the image-making process, to those who never wished to return to their original lives, as well as to those who aided their own repatriation, but all captured in the camera.

This presentation will include some rarely seen original daguerreotypes, ambrotypes, tintypes, as well as other forms of representation. Several of these images are known only from nineteenth-century engravings included in rare original publications made from now lost daguerreotypes and other early portraits.

Jane Turano-Thompson, a graduate of Smith College, is an independent scholar and art historian, specializing in 19th-century American art, culture and photography.

Formerly Editor of The American Art Journal in New York and subsequently Consulting Editor of that magazine, she has written for numerous art and antiques publications and has lectured at the Dublin Seminar for New England Folklife, the American Antiquarian Society, the New England American Studies Association, the Smith College Museum of Art, the New Bedford Whaling Museum, the National Portrait Gallery, and numerous other museums and historical societies institutions throughout the Northeast. She has spoken several times at the Daguerreian Society symposia and is a contributor to the Oxford Encyclopedia of Maritime History published in 2007 by Oxford University Press.

Sandra Petrillo
Sandra Petrillo

Daguerreobase: The European Union Daguerreian Era Documentation Project

Today, only a small fraction of daguerreotypes made during the Daguerreian Era has survived. More than ever before, these rare and precious artifacts belonging to the advent of photography are now recognized as the result of a real technological miracle and thus considered a "unique and irreplaceable part of the world's cultural heritage." They belong to many important collections around the world, and over the past few decades, daguerreotype images have attracted interest from photograph collectors, and the value that some important daguerreotypes have achieved on the art market is considerable.

Because of the vulnerability of the image layer, which can be easily damaged or even destroyed, it is crucial that all remaining daguerreotypes are recorded and documented in order to gather future scientific and historical knowledge, as well as to optimize their long-term preservation and accessibility. This is the goal of the photographic heritage project Daguerreobase, funded under the ICT Policy Support Programme and supported by the European Union. Coordinated by the FotoMuseum (FoMu) Province Antwerpen, an international consortium is currently working to assemble images and descriptions for its online database, accessible on www.daguerreobase.org.

Last June, the first issue of the Daguerreotype Journal, a free quarterly online multimedia publication was available on the website of daguerreobase.org. The aim of this journal, which is published by the recently founded European Daguerreotype Association EDA, is to share and promote the international cultural and visual heritage of daguerreotypes by presenting a variety of themes that deal with daguerreotype images and the daguerreotype itself. Furthermore, in autumn 2014, in celebration of 175 years of photography, a virtual exhibition showcasing the best European daguerreotype images will be hosted on Europeana, the European cultural heritage portal.

A richly illustrated presentation containing a number of so far unpublished daguerreotype images, equipment and tools held by different public institutions and private collections gathered during the project will provide an interesting insight into all aspects of the daguerreotype era across Europe.

Sandra M. Petrillo was awarded an MA in Art History from the University La Sapienza of Rome and an MA in Art Conservation, specialising in Photography, from IFROA-INP of Paris.

Since 1996 she has worked as a free-lance conservator in France, for the ARCP of Paris, in Luxembourg and in the USA. In 2009, she established a private practice in Italy, SMP Photoconservation, which specializes in conservation, surveys and digitizing photographic collections.

She has a number of publications to her name including: Papier albuminé mat in the Vocabulaire technique de la photographie (Paris, 2008) and the essay Conservazione e restauro dei materiali fotografici for the Enciclopedia Italiana of the XXI Century (Rome, 2010). At the University of Rome "Tor Vergata," she teaches courses in conservation of photographic material. She is the editor of the newly founded Daguerreotype Journal and also authors the column "Materia Photographica" for KERMES which provides information on current scientific topics in the field of photographic conservation and preservation.

Larry Schaaf
Larry Schaaf

"A Little Bit of Magic Realized": William Henry Fox Talbot & the Photographic Negative

At the annual meeting of the British Association for the Advancement of Science in August 1839, William Henry Fox Talbot was called on for some "Remarks on M. Daguerre's Photogenic Process." Daguerre had revealed his working details only days before, and the English inventor of negative-positive photography concluded that the facts "serve to illustrate the fertility of the subject, and show the great extent of yet unoccupied ground in this new branch of science." Talbot's comments led to an "animated discussion" amongst the distinguished scientists and that animated discussion continues to this day. Ironically, Daguerre, the consummate showman, created the most intimate of all photographic processes, one best enjoyed held in the hand. Talbot, on the other hand, in spite of his reticence, paved the central path for photography's public existence, the use of a negative (or more recently a RAW file) to create multiple prints. The highly accomplished Talbot was a miserable draughtsman before photography, but through the new art he grew into being a photographic artist. In marked contrast to Daguerre, where very few documents and examples by the inventor survive, Talbot left us with more than 10,000 letters, hundreds of notebooks, and more than 25,000 prints and negatives, now distributed worldwide. This lecture will examine Talbot through these resources, including the online Correspondence of William Henry Fox Talbot and the upcoming , both founded and edited by Dr. Schaaf. It will be accompanied by numerous rarely seen and little known Talbot images.

Professor Larry J. Schaaf is a lapsed photographer who taught photography and the history of photography at The University of Texas at Austin.

In 2003, he published full transcriptions of more than 10,000 letters to and from William Henry Fox Talbot. There is a marked contrast in the resources available to study Talbot and Daguerre. While there are many tens of thousands of daguerreotypes extant, very little survives that is provably by Daguerre himself. In Talbot's case, there are not only the letters, but hundreds of research notebooks, dozens of published articles and books, and more than 25,000 photographic prints and negatives surviving worldwide, each carrying traces of the DNA of Talbot himself.

In August 2014, the Bodleian Library at the University of Oxford appointed Professor Schaaf to create an online resource of these thousands of original photographs. This complements the recent undertaking of the Daguerreobase initiative, yet the nature of the original materials will influence these complementary projects in different directions. Both should lead to a far more nuanced understanding of the early history of photography. Professor Schaaf's talk will be heavily illustrated with little-seen examples of Talbot's work.

Jeremy Rowe
Jeremy Rowe

Thoughts about Time, Place, and the Evolution of Early Photography in New York City

New York City was a hotbed of development of early photography in America. As awareness and interest in the daguerreotype spread, studios propagated and new businesses emerged. The presentation will explore the propagation of studios in early New York City using mapping of street addresses and geolocation of studios. The project is still underway and focuses on the period from 1839 to after the Civil War.

The goal is to layer the data over the historic maps to permit year-by-year visualization to study the evolution and change of photographic businesses over time. For example, this mapping has visualized the patterns of studio development of both well-known Broadway studios, and the lesser known "working class" businesses on the Bowery and lower east side.

The ability to look at the intersections of time and place (where and when photographs were created), and patterns and interactions that occurred during the development of emerging photographic businesses appears as a new research approach generalizable to other cities and to support analysis of business development in other geographic locations.

Dr. Jeremy Rowe has collected, researched, and written about 19th and early 20th century photographs for over thirty years.

He has written Arizona Photographers 1850 - 1920: A History and Directory, Arizona Real Photo Postcards: A History and Portfolio, and Arizona Stereographs 1865 - 1930. He has also written numerous articles on photographic history including chapters on Disclosing Historic Photographs in the Sage Handbook of Visual Research Methods. He curated exhibitions with many regional museums, and a permanent exhibit at the Talking Stick Resort in Scottsdale, Arizona. He is a scholar and speaker for the Arizona Humanities Council and lectures regularly on the history of photography.

Jeremy's research interests revolve around historic photographs as primary research documents, and in understanding the contextual and embedded information contained in each image. He has been working on geo-referencing historic images and photographic businesses as part of his efforts to analyze individual and groups of images and better understand the patterns and relationships within collections of images. Jeremy serves on several boards, including the Daguerreian Society, National Stereoscopic Association, the Ephemera Society of America, and INFOCUS (the collaboration between the Phoenix Art Museum and center for Creative Photography). He is working on photographic research projects in Arizona and New York City and on visiting private and public photographic collections as his research continues.

Ralph Wiegandt
Ralph Wiegandt

New Research on the Nature of Gilding Daguerreotypes

This paper presents current research on the physico-chemical process and effects that result from the gilding of daguerreotypes. Research at George Eastman House through National Science Foundation funding in collaboration with the University of Rochester, provides a new model for the dynamics of the gilding process, invented by Hippolyte Fizeau in 1840. Scanning electron microscopy and focused ion beam milling have shown that the traditional gilding recipe of Fizeau forms a gold-silver ratio as a superlayer on top of the underlying silver. Examinations of many historic gilded, and several ungilded daguerreotypes demonstrate this unexpected phenomenon, altering the traditional understanding of gilding as a chemical displacement reaction. This emerging explanation holds true for modern gilded and ungilded daguerreotypes and for mercury developed and Becquerel processed plates. The authors will show the examination methods, test results, and provide a working explanation of the leap that Fizeau made by his formulation, which was recently rediscovered by scientists synthesizing gold nanoparticles for medical research applications.

Ralph Wiegandt is Research Conservator and NSF researcher at the George Eastman House International Museum of Photography & Film.

He began his career in the conservation of artistic and cultural materials as an objects conservator. Following his graduate training at Buffalo State Art Conservation Program, he served as conservator at the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, Michigan, and then the Rochester Museum & Science Center in Rochester, NY. His involvement in photograph conservation began in 2003 as an advisor to the Advanced Residency Program in Photograph Conservation at George Eastman House -- he subsequently completed a residency fellowship. Through the subsequent years Ralph has been at George Eastman House pursuing daguerreotype conservation projects and conducting daguerreotype research. He is currently the primary researcher on the collaborative National Science Foundation (NSF-SCIART) grant with the University of Rochester to advance the scientific understanding and preservation of daguerreotypes.

Dr. Nicholas Bigelow, Professor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Rochester, is the Principle Investigator on the University-Museum collaborative National Science Foundation grant.

Dr. Bigelow is an enthusiastic supporter of interdisciplinary research between museums and universities joined in challenging intellectual scientific pursuit that has no jurisdiction. His formal research domains in physics and optics provide the essential research principles to guide research into this deeply challenging investigation of the daguerreotype that enjoins physics, optics, chemistry, biochemistry, and instrumental analysis; carried out within unfamiliar constraints of conservation practice and ethics.


Symposium Registration and TradeFair

Would you like to attend the Symposium? A Constant Contact emailing has been linking to an on-line registration form and a registration form in PDF format is available here.

Early Symposium registration ended at midnight, 15 August 2014.

The TradeFair will be held on Sunday, September 28, at the Sheraton Austin at 707 East 1st Street, Austin. Admission is free for Symposium registrants. For non-registrants the entrance fee is $10 for adults, $5 for students with ID.

Note that the July - September 2014 Daguerreian Society Quarterly gave the incorrect day (but the correct date) for the TradeFair. It is on Sunday, September 28.

Daguerreian Society TradeFair

More to do in Austin

Here are some web sites that can help you to become more familiar with Austin:

austin360.com - an excellent general web site exploring all activities in Austin.

Austin Chronicle restaurant guide -- the restaurant guide of The Austin Chronicle, an independent, locally owned and operated alternative newsweekly that reflects the heart and soul of Austin.

In addition to our scheduled tours that are still being solidified there are a number of self-guided yours you might want to take advantage of. Some of these are:

Texas State Capitol

The Texas State Capitol, located in Downtown Austin and very close to our hotel, is the fourth building to house the state government of Texas. The capitol building contains the chambers of the Texas Legislature and the office of the governor. Originally designed in 1881 by architect Elijah E. Myers, it was constructed from 1882 to 1888 under the direction of civil engineer Reuben Lindsay Walker. A $75 million underground extension was completed in 1993. The building was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1970 and recognized as a National Historic Landmark in 1986.The Texas State Capitol is 308 ft (94 m) tall making it the sixth tallest state capitol and one of several taller than the United States Capitol in Washington, D.C.

Tours are generally 45 minutes in length and are available during the following times:

Monday - Friday: 8:30 am - 4:30 pm
Saturday: 9:30 am - 3:30 pm
Sunday: noon - 3:30 pm

Info at (512) 463-0063 or on line.

LBJ Presidential Library and Museum

The LBJ Presidential Library is one of thirteen Presidential Libraries administered by the National Archives and Records Administration. It houses 45 million pages of historical documents which include the papers from the entire public career of Lyndon Baines Johnson and those of his close associates. President Johnson insisted that the Library that bears his name tell future generations the story of this rich period of history "with the bark off."

The Library is located at 2313 Red River Street. Phone (512) 721-0200, web site.

Access is from 9:00 - 5:00 pm.

Parking is free. Appointments are recommended if you'd like to use the Research Room.

Harry Ransom Center

In the lobby of the Harry Ransom Center stands the First Photograph, or more specifically, the world's first permanent photograph from nature, taken by Joseph Nicéphore Niépce in 1826/1827. The image depicts the view from an upstairs window at Niépce's estate, Le Gras, in the Burgundy region of France. Niépce's invention represents the origin of today's photography, film, and other media arts.

The Harry Ransom Center is located at W. 21st and Guadalupe Streets. Phone (512) 471-8944, web site. Exhibition galleries are open:

Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday: 10:00 am - 5:00 pm
Thursday: 10:00 am - 7:00 pm
Saturday and Sunday: noon - 5:00 pm


About the Symposium
This is the Daguerreian Society's 26th Annual Symposium. Our symposiums are full of presentations, behind-the scenes tours, discussions, exhibitions, and enjoying the company of other persons who love images from the daguerreian era. Past Symposiums have been held in Rochester, New York; Santa Fe, New Mexico; Columbus, Ohio; Norfolk and Arlington, Virginia; Boston, Massachusetts; Oakland and Sacramento, California; Atlanta and Savannah, Georgia; Dearborn, Michigan; Pittsburgh and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Kansas City, Missouri; Newport, Rhode Island; Washington, D.C.; St. Petersburg, Florida; Baltimore, Maryland; and Bry-sur-Marne, France. Society members/spouses/partners receive reduced admission to the Symposiums.

The 2014 Symposium includes:

  • Lecture Presentations on daguerreotypes with world-class speakers
  • Exhibitions of daguerreotypes and other early photography
  • Walking tours of local points of interest
  • A Gala Reception
  • The Daguerreian Society TradeFair with dealers from around the U.S. and Canada, offering the world's largest display of daguerreotypes for sale. Symposium attendees receive free early admission (prior to general public admission).
  • An evening Dinner Banquet at the Sheraton Austin, which concludes with:
  • A lively Benefit Auction of donated and consigned daguerreotypes.


Future Symposia

West Coast 2015

Dates: TBD

Host: TBD

West Coast of the United States

Headquarters Hotel: TBD


Past Symposia

The links below give you access to all the details of the most recent Daguerreian Society symposia:

2013 Symposium

2013 Mini-Symposium

2012 Symposium

2011 Symposium

2010 Symposium

2009 Symposium

2008 Symposium

2007 Symposium