The annual conference of the National Genealogical Society began Wednesday morning with a click. But not just any click; it was the click of a daguerreotype photograph. Patricia Van Skaik gave the opening session keynote address spoke about the Cincinnati Panorama of 1848.
Van Skaik is the Manager of the Genealogy and Local History Collection at the Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County.
“On September 24, 1848, Charles Fontayne and William S. Porter set up their camera on a rooftop in Newport, Kentucky,” says the library website, “and panned across the Ohio River capturing on eight separate daguerreotype plates a panorama of the nation's sixth largest city, Cincinnati.” At 160 years old, the panorama is “the oldest comprehensive photograph of any American city,” according to a library brochure.
Van Shaik presented the history of the panorama, including the fascinating story of the detective work used to identify when the photograph was taken, down to the day and minute!
Thanks to a state of the art microscope and the incredible details captured by daguerreotype photography, the photography reveals details of life on the Cincinnati river front. For more information, and for a chance to explore the detail of the photograph for yourself, visit http://1848.cincinnatilibrary.org/.