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Henry Coit Perkins: Pioneer Photographer

  • Museum of Old Newbury 98 High Street Newburyport, MA, 01950 United States (map)

Learn about some of the earliest photographs made in the U.S. and likely, the country's very first town view taken by Henry Coit Perkins of Newburyport in 1839.

Henry Coit Perkins (1804-1873) was a native son of Newburyport, Massachusetts. After graduating from the Harvard Medical School, he returned to his hometown to practice medicine as a country doctor. In the fall of 1839, he began experimenting with the daguerreotype process, a new photographic technique invented in France, by which he had become fascinated. The process was the first practicable method of obtaining permanent images with a camera and gave rise to the birth of photography as a tool of record, as well as an art form.

Susan C.S. Edwards' presentation will explore the processes that Perkins used to produce six views of Newburyport that have become recognized as among the earliest daguerreotypes in the United States. Recent research, revealing a full portrait of Perkins and his role in early American photographic history, will be discussed.

Reception 6:30pm, Program 7:00pm
Free and open to the public
Reservations recommended due to limited seating. Contact 978-462-2681 or