Photographs: Portraits: Daguerreotypes, Ambrotypes, and Tintypes, c. 1840-c. 1860 | Oberlin College Archives
Cased images represent the first forms of photographs taken at Oberlin, with the earliest dating from soon after the invention of photography in 1839, and the majority from the 1850s. In the United States, daguerreotypes were the first common expressions of photography. Daguerreotypes, ambrotypes and tintypes exist only as single unique images that are not generated from negatives. These images typically appear in period cases, which protected the cover glass of daguerreotypes and ambrotypes. Tintypes may or may not appear in cases with cover glass. These objects are inherently fragile, and require special care in handling, especially those with incomplete or missing cases.
The images in this group are all portraits by unknown creators, primarily of class groups with their teachers or individual portraits that are not associated with a personal paper group. One of the most significant of these is an 1856 ambrotype of three Oberlinians, Samuel Burdett, Gardner C. Trowbridge, and Henry Payson Kinney, who followed John Brown to “Bleeding Kansas.” The ambrotype held a folded paper with a handwritten description signed by Henry P. Kinney. Another noteworthy image from the Oberlin anti-slavery movement is the portrait of the Cleveland jailer and his wife who were in charge of the Oberlin-Wellington Rescuers imprisoned in 1859 for forcibly freeing a runaway slave from his captors. Additionally, the earliest portrait of John Mercer Langston exists as a daguerreotype in a frame with other graduates of the Oberlin Theological Seminary in 1853.
The inventory provides a box list of the images, and also provides an alphabetical list of persons represented.