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Triple portrait of Alexander H. Phillips (Class of 1851), Hugh W. Henry (Class of 1851), and William Wallace Phillips, ca. 1850s.
Triple portrait of Alexander H. Phillips (Class of 1851), Hugh W. Henry (Class of 1851), and William Wallace Phillips, ca. 1850s. Half-plate daguerreotype. Photographer unknown.


In the spring of 2000, the Seeley G. Mudd Manuscript Library at Princeton University received a grant from the Friends of the Princeton University Library to assist with the preservation of cased photographic images in the Historical Photograph Collection in the University Archives. This grant was supplemented by a gift from Princeton University alumnus, Alexander D. Stuart, Class of 1972. The goals of this project were to stabilize, clean, and rehouse the cased images, ensuring their availability for research in the Mudd Library for years to come.

Daguerreotypes and ambrotypes, two of the earliest photographic processes, are unique, rare, and valuable images. The daguerreotype process, in which a single positive image is reproduced on a copper plate coated with silver, dates from 1839 and was popular until around 1860. The ambrotype process, in which a single positive collodion-based image is developed on a glass plate, dates from 1855 to 1865. While the Historical Photograph Collection in the Princeton University Archives contains approximately 20,000 paper photographic prints from the 1860s to the present, there are only 77 daguerreotypes and ambrotypes in the collection. These images, dating from the 1840s through the 1850s, are the only extant photographic images to document the late antebellum period at Princeton University. The condition of the cased images before their preservation treatment was such that they could not be safely handled; with the completion of this project researchers may now come to the Mudd Library to study this valuable collection. This online exhibition highlights a small number of the images that were a part of this project.

Notes on viewing the exhibit

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