William Henry Fox Talbot, Lace, ca. 1845. This image of lace is an example of a calotype, an early photographic technique. William Henry Fox Talbot, the author of this work, invented the calotype in 1841 as a competing medium to the daguerreotype, another early photographic technique, in which an image imprinted on thin metal. To … Read more
This grim entry in Wesleyan’s Alumni Record, published in 1883, offers a sad glimpse into the tangled web of Wesleyan’s early connections with Africa. Read in context with the Missionary Lyceum logbook (“Curiosities belonging to the Missionary Lyceum”) pictured above, inventories from the Archaeology & Anthropology Collection, correspondence in President Willbur Fisk’s Papers, and other sources, we can piece together a network of personal relationships and events that likely led to Wesleyan’s holding one of the largest groups of pre-1850 cultural objects from Monrovia, Liberia, in an American collection.
Cartes-de-visite, such as this clever little pastiche from the prominent New York studio of C.D. Fredricks, became commonplace in the U.S. in the period just before the Civil War. Here, the giant photographed head of an anonymous man sits atop a pint-sized caricature of his body, the angle of his spindly legs echoing his spectacular handlebar moustache.