Portrait of Dorothy Catherine Draper

Believed to be the first photographic portrait made in the United States, this portrait of Dorothy Catherine Draper was originally taken by her brother Dr. John W. Draper (1811-1882) in his Washington Square studio at the New York University in 1839 or 1840, within the first year of Louis Jacques Mande Daguerre's announcement in Paris of his invention of the daguerreotype process. Identified as a copy daguerreotype, this reproduction was made by Draper's son Daniel when the original was displayed at the 1893 Columbian Exposition in Chicago, Illinois. The original daguerreotype was damaged during an attempt at restoration early in the 1930s.
Currently not on view
Date made
Draper, Daniel
Place Made
United States: New York, New York
Physical Description
glass (overall material)
paper (overall material)
wood (overall material)
metal (overall material)
overall: 4 1/4 in x 3 1/4 in; 10.795 cm x 8.255 cm
ID Number
accession number
catalog number
Credit Line
Gift of John William Christopher Draper and James Christopher Draper
related event
World's Industrial and Cotton Centennial Exposition
See more items in
Culture and the Arts: Photographic History
Data Source
National Museum of American History


Photography is one of the greatest inventions in the human history. Thanks to this wonderful invention, we can see how people nearly 180 years ago looked like as if they were still alive. Yes, this good-looking lady will live forever in this photograph. Probably, my pictures would be viewed with amagement by people in the 23rd century.

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