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Inventing American Photography

The Smithsonian's Inventing American Photography project is a cross-disciplinary pan-institutional effort to research and interpret the vast and extraordinary holdings of early American daguerreotype photography at the Smithsonian. It is the next step following a five-year dedicated effort of National Museum of American History staff and external partners to document and publish the significance of the Smithsonian’s unique collection of Hillotypes, Reverend Levi L. Hill’s 1850s experiments in early color photography on daguerreotype plates. Initial research completed for the 2007 Getty Foundation Conservation Grant for the scientific study and analysis of the Hillotypes has led to increased interest from national and international scholars and conservators in the larger Smithsonian collection of rare and unique examples of American daguerreian-era photography 1840-1860, the related patent models and camera equipment. The Smithsonian’s photography collections and archives together comprise one of the world’s leading collections of the extant and earliest works by, and equipment used or manufactured by, the influential men and women in the first decades of American photography—artists and scientists—creating and marketing an American style of photography.

Open Daguerreotype
HDRI of Daguerreotype EPVD7