2017 Annual Conference and Show
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The 2017 19th-Century Photography Annual Conference and Show

Presented by the Daguerreian Society

October 26-29, 2017, at the Embassy Suites by Hilton, Convention Center, Washington, DC.


Information about tours and exhibits is still being finalized; however below is hotel information. You may reserve your suite for this special rate now by using the website below. Please check back periodically as this site will be updated automatically.

                              Embassy Suites by Hilton, Convention Center

                               900 10th Street, NW, Washington, DC 20001

                                             Phone: 202-719-1420


The Conference fees include the Thursday evening Grand Reception, the full Friday Conference Program, and the Saturday evening Buffet Banquet at the Embassy Suites by Hilton, followed by the Silent & Live Benefit Auction. Conference registration also includes early bird admission at 9:15 a.m. to the Saturday 19th-Century Photography Show. 

Conference Speakers and Talks

BRILLIANT COMETS: Previously Unknown Daguerreotypes of Maria Mitchell and Margaret Fuller

Presenter: Jane Turano-Thompson

To be a brilliant, independent woman in the 19th century was never anything less than a struggle, as it remains today. This presentation will consider the lives of two remarkable women, Maria Mitchell and Margaret Fuller, based on previously unknown daguerreotypes of them. Both child prodigies, both feminists, their astounding intellects set them apart from regular society and brought them countless challenges throughout their lives.

Although they interacted with other brilliant achievers of their time, including Frederick Douglass, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry David Thoreau, Lucretia Mott, and many others, they struggled to forge their own paths, as scholars, as well as women.

Maria Mitchell (1818-1889), astronomer, discovered a previously unknown comet in 1847. Born on Nantucket, she was awarded a gold medal by the King of Denmark, and in 1848, became the first woman elected to membership in the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. As professor of astronomy, she was the first person appointed to the faculty of Vassar College. Although her reputation insured the new college's survival, she found that she was being paid less than her male counterparts, and fought for equal pay for women.

Margaret Fuller (1810-1850), writer and critic, known for her exceptionally keen mind, was an advocate for equal rights for women, Native Americans, and African-Americans, and America's first foreign correspondent, sent in 1846 to Europe for the New York Tribune. She died in a shipwreck off the coast of New York, while returning to America in 1850.

While there are similarities in their stories, there are also major differences. Mitchell's life was long and steady, giving off a dependable, constant beacon. Fuller's path was brief and intense, burning across the sky like a comet herself.

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 and Consulting Editor of that magazine, she has written for numerous art publications and has lectured at the Dublin Seminar for New England Folklife, the American Antiquarian Society, the New England American Studies Assoc., Smith College, Middlebury College, the New Bedford Whaling Museum, and numerous other institutions throughout the Northeast. She is a contributor to the "Oxford Encyclopedia of Maritime History" published in 2007 by Oxford University Press. Several images from her collection were exhibited at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and published in the accompanying book, Photography and the American Civil War, by Jeff Rosenheim, in 2013. In 2015, she was the featured speaker at "Exploring the Eye of History," a symposium of the New England Archivists Association.


Collecting Early Photography for the National Portrait Gallery

Presenter: Ann M. Shumard

In the nine years since the Daguerreian Society last held its Symposium in Washington, D.C., the Smithsonian's National Portrait Gallery has continued its quest to acquire early photographic portraits of historically significant Americans. Through gifts, auction purchases, and private sales, the museum has been fortunate in adding 29 daguerreotypes and 5 ambrotypes to its collection. The scope of these acquisitions has been wide ranging-from a jewel-like, sixteenth-plate daguerreotype of actress and theatrical manager Laura Keene (by Rufus P. Anson) to a lustrous, whole-plate ambrotype of American landscape painter John Frederick Kensett (by Mathew Brady). The sitters represented have been equally diverse and include Native American Chief Governor Blacksnake (recorded in a quarter-plate daguerreotype by F.C. Flint), abolitionist Lucretia Mott (captured in a half-plate daguerreotype by Marcus Aurelius Root), and West Point cadet and future Confederate officer John Pelham (pictured in a half-plate ambrotype by Brady). While strengthening the museum's ability to fulfill its mandate to collect portraits of those individuals "who have made significant contributions to the history, development, and culture of the people of the United States," these acquisitions also enable Portrait Gallery to document the evolution of early photographic portraiture in this country.

Following a brief overview of the history of photographic collecting by the National Portrait Gallery, this talk will feature acquisitions highlights from 2008 to the present.

Ann M. Shumard is Senior Curator of Photographs at the Smithsonian's National Portrait Gallery. Since joining the Portrait Gallery's Department of Photographs in 1979, she has worked to build, diversify, and interpret the museum's photography collection, which now exceeds 11,000 objects and includes more than 150 daguerreotypes.

She is the curator of the current NPG exhibition "Antebellum Portraits by Mathew Brady," which traces the trajectory of Brady's early career through daguerreotypes, ambrotypes, salted paper prints, engravings, and advertising ephemera. Her recent exhibitions include "The Meade Brothers: Pioneers in American Portrait Photography" (2013); "Bound for Freedom's Light: African Americans and the Civil War" (2013); "In the Groove: Jazz Portraits by Herman Leonard" (2016); and "Double Take: Daguerreian Portrait Pairs" (2016).

In addition to her exhibition credits, she has contributed to a number of publications, including the books Let Your Motto Be Resistance: African American Portraits (2007); and Smithsonian Civil War: Inside the National Collection (2013); Portrait of a Nation (2016) and Engaging Smithsonian Objects through Science, History, and the Arts (2016).

Rediscovering John Moran and the Nineteenth Century Photographic Capitol of America

Presenter: Mary Panzer

John Moran's (1831-1902) photographic career spanned the middle decades of the 19th century, when he lived in Philadelphia, home to some of the nation's best and best known practitioners, amateur and professional. Yet the significance of these men (there were few women until dry plates became common) and this place has too long remained in the historical shadow of New York. This talk will consider Moran and his world using primary sources, and Moran's own words, to show how and why he believed photographs could be fine art. It will further discuss the ways in which his work "vanished" into Philadelphia collections and libraries, and was recovered anew by a generation of curators and historians in the late 1970s and early 1980s. Finally, this talk will use Moran and his career to reveal a generation of photographers whose work helped define the new medium in terms if printmaking, lithography, and commercial art as seen and made in Philadelphia during the city's most chaotic and productive decades.

Mary Panzer is a recognized scholar of photography and cultural history. Her 1982 exhibition for Yale University Art Gallery, "Philadelphia Naturalistic Photography," called attention to the generation of art photographers who preceded Alfred Stieglitz. She has contributed to exhibitions and catalogues on photographers of the nineteenth century such as Mathew Brady, Rudolf Eickemeyer, Jr., William H. Rau, and twentieth century photographers such as Richard Avedon, Philippe Halsman and Nickolas Muray. From 1992-2000 she served as Curator of Photographs at the National Portrait Gallery/Smithsonian Institution, where she proudly acquired the portrait of John Brown by Augustus Washington. As a freelance curator she organized the archive of H.C. Anderson, published in Separate, But Equal: The Mississippi Photographs of H.C. Anderson (2002), and acquired by the National Museum of African American History and Culture. Panzer is co-author of the award-winning THINGS AS THEY ARE: Photojournalism in Context since 1955 (2005), the first international survey of magazine photography. Her articles have appeared in the Wall Street Journal, American Photo, Aperture and Vanity Fair. Panzer has lectured at the National Gallery in Washington DC, Princeton University, Rutgers University, University of Southern California, University of North Carolina, Ryerson University and at many museums, including the Chrysler Museum, The Fogg Museums, the National Portrait Gallery in London and the National Galleries of Scotland. Mary Panzer holds a PhD in American Studies from Boston University and lives in Manhattan and Rochester, NY.

Daguerre's Legacy: Bon Chance ou bon génie?

Presenter: Mike Robinson

This talk retraces Daguerre's pathway of discovery and innovation described in historical accounts, and combines this historical research with artisanal, tacit, and causal knowledge gained through replicative practice to shed new light on the history of the Daguerre's photographic research.

The daguerreotype process has a unique material story about its creation. Clues from the historical record have been re-examined and replicated to understand and illustrate fifteen years of Daguerre's scientific work from 1829 to 1844. This lecture offers fresh insight into Daguerre's involvement with the materiality of the silver plate, iodine sensitizing and plate acceleration, and optics.

This talk is derived from my doctoral thesis, "The Techniques and Material Aesthetics of the Daguerreotype," which rigorously explains by empirical evidence how, why, and in what ways the daguerreotype process evolved. Its trans-disciplinary methodology, combining traditional research, tacit and gestural process knowledge, and laboratory synthesis refutes the speculative views of highly regarded photo historians, thus significantly correcting the historical record.

Dr. Mike Robinson is an artist-practitioner, teacher, conservator, and historian of the daguerreotype. In June 2017 he earned his PhD in Photographic History with a dissertation titled "The Techniques and Material Aesthetics of the Daguerreotype."

He has researched and written on the studio practice of Southworth and Hawes for the Young America catalogue and for the Daguerreian Society Annual.

Mike taught graduate and undergraduate courses in 19th Century Photographic Processes at Ryerson University in Toronto, and has lectured and taught daguerreotype workshops in Toronto, Rochester, New York City, Lacock Abbey UK, Bry-sur-Marne France, and Kolomna Russia.



Talbot, The Daguerreian?

Presenter: Grant Romer

Was Henry Fox Talbot impervious to the unique qualities of a daguerreotype? Did he not marvel and exclaim in wonder on first seeing an example, as so many others did in 1839? Did he not acquire examples to study? Did he not practice the Daguerreotype process, if only experimentally, in order to understand an entirely different photographic system than his own? If so, are there examples of daguerreotypes made by Talbot? Why are such questions not readily answered, despite the survival of an abundant archival record and deep scholarly study of his history ?

With particular address to members of The Daguerreian Society, answers will be given to these questions based upon long-term inquiry, intimate discussion with Talbot scholars, and privileged access to collections. The talk will be given with ample illustration.

Remarkably, news of this astounding and important discovery is largely unknown, not only to devotees of the Daguerreotype and historians of Photography, but to the general public, worldwide. In 2013 I was invited, as part of a team of international scholars and conservators, to examine the tryptic and hold a colloquium to assess its condition, importance and advise on its preservation.

In the proposed talk, I will report on this experience, illustrating and describing the triptych. Further, reflection will be made upon the reasons for the astonishing lack of knowledge of a discovery, now seven years in the past, and what it implies for the future valuation of the Daguerreian legacy.

Grant Romer is a native of New York City, who holds a BFA from Pratt Institute and an MFA from Rochester Institute of Technology. In 1976, he joined the staff of the George Eastman House, becoming its Conservator of Photography in 1989. He was Director of the Advanced Residency Program in Photograph Conservation from 1999 to 2010. He has had a distinguished career as a leading educator in this field. Having retired in 2010, Romer continues to be active as a consultant and lecturer internationally. He has served many of the world's most important institutions as a consultant, including the Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg, Russia: the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York; Harvard and Yale Universities; The J. Paul Getty Museum; The Vatican; The National Palace Museum, Taiwan; The Israel Museum; The British Museum; and the national archives and libraries of Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Chile, France, Germany, Japan, Mexico, and the United States. His research and teaching as been supported by such entities as the Japan Foundation, the Gulbenkian Foundation; the Churchill Heritage Trust; the Max Planck Institute; the Getty Trust; the Gould Foundation; the Kress Foundation. He has held two Fulbright Fellowships. Romer has written and lectured extensively on many aspects of photographic history. He has served as curator for many exhibitions while at Eastman House, most recently, "Young America-The Daguerreotypes of Southworth & Hawes. The Daguerreian Society awarded Romer it's Lifetime Achievement Award in 2010. Recently, while in Uruguay to lecture, he was declared an "Illustrious Visitor" by the Mayor of Montevideo and given a medal for his contributions to the preservation of cultural heritage in Latin America. He is active now in the Academy of Archaic Imaging, devoted to providing opportunities to better understand the history of the application of technology to "depict what is seen"through practical experience with pre-1850 examples of optical devices, such as the Camera Lucida; Claude Glass; Watt's Perspectograph; Solar Microscope: Varley's Graphic Telescope and Wolcott Mirror Camera.

Soliciting Images

Presenter: Michael Lehr

This year I am soliciting members to submit an image they found that launched part (or all) of their collection in a previously unexpected direction. Finding a great unusual image can make collectors rethink their selections. We all have tangents in our collections and we would like to hear about yours. Please illustrate this short (~2-3 minute) talk with the image you found, and include some examples of how it affected your collecting. The images do not need to be masterworks, the focus is on sharing the passion for collecting and the images and stories that bring us together.

Michael Lehr is an avid collector and dealer of 19th-century cased images. He has spent his entire life surrounded by some of the greatest images from the 19th and 20th centuries.