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William Stroud

Born:
Norristown, Pennsylvania 1812

Died:
Norristown, Pennsylvania 1889

Biography

According to an advertisement in the Norristown, Pennsylvania, Register, Stroud—the town's first resident photographer—opened his daguerreotype studio on September 3, 1850. His advertisements urged clients to "call as early in the day as possible … avoid [wearing] light blue, or too much WHITE." Stroud's business soon expanded to include other photographic processes, including paper prints made from negatives. The ability to make many copies of an image quickly eclipsed the popularity of the unique daguerreotype, and studios like Stroud's did a brisk business reproducing the older images. As in early daguerreotpes, color was delicately applied to the surface of the finished photograph.

A note on the back of this portrait indicates it was made after a daguerreotype by the important Philadelphia studio of William and Frederick Langenheim. Curiously, it was the Langenheim brothers who purchased the American patent rights to the paper process from its British inventor, William Henry Fox Talbot. This eventually put them, and other early American daguerreotypists, out of business.

Merry A. Foresta American Photographs: The First Century (Washington, D.C.: National Museum of American Art with the Smithsonian Institution Press, 1996)