The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 95, July 1991 - April, 1992 Page: 221
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Notes and Documents
The View from the Ojo de Agua:
A Daguerreian Relic of Saltillo, Mexico,
THOMAS R. KAILBOURN*
N EWS OF THE DISCOVERY OF THE DAGUERREOTYPE, THE FIRST PRAC-
ticable method of photography, reached the shores of America in
the spring of 1839. Named after its inventor, the French painter Louis
J. M. Daguerre, this process yielded enchanting images with astound-
ing clarity of detail on highly polished silver-iodized copper plates.
Within a few years the daguerreotype was a firmly rooted feature of
American life, with professional daguerreian galleries established in
virtually every city and a large corps of itinerant practitioners operat-
ing in the hinterlands.'
When the war with Mexico erupted in May 1846, a number of adven-
turous and enterprising daguerreotypists followed the U.S. Army to
the fronts. One such photographer, an anonymous American whose
full story remains to be told, spent much of the war in the American-
occupied city of Saltillo, Coahuila, where he produced scores of price-
less images of military personalities, troops in the field, Mexican civil-
ians, and views of noteworthy places. Until a decade ago, the known
photographic legacy of this first photographer of war consisted of a
dozen daguerreotypes in the collection of the Beinecke Rare Book and
Manuscript Library, Yale University. In 1981 the Amon Carter Mu-
seum in Fort Worth acquired a sizeable collection of Mexican War
*Thomas R. Kailbourn, an independent reseau cher of the 1846-1848 U.S. military occupa-
tion of Coahulla and Nuevo Le6n, is assistant editor of The Daguenean Annual
'Many excellent surveys of the history of the daguerreotype's brief reign in America are
available: one of the most recent and comprehensive is Floyd Rinhart and Marion Rinhart, The
American Dague reotgype (Athens University of Georgia Press, 198 1)
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 95, July 1991 - April, 1992, periodical, 1992; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth117153/m1/267/: accessed December 15, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.