Chronicling Patriots through Photographs
July 5th, 2013
Thanks to decades of research, we can now catch a glimpse of soldiers who fought in the Revolutionary War. Joe Bauman has dedicated his career to collecting daguerreotypes of Revolutionary War veterans.
While the science of photography did not become widespread until the 1850s, the possibility that some Revolutionary War soldiers lived into their 80’s offered hope to Bauman that records of early patriots may exist.
Utilizing his experience as an investigative reporter, Bauman traveled across the country and gradually amassed a set of eight daguerreotypes, analyzing tax records to determine what role these men had in the Revolutionary War. Bauman’s work has given us a glimpse into the lives of those who fought for America’s independence more than 230 years ago.
Bauman explains the process of creating daguerreotypes, a process similar to modern-day film photography.
A daguerreotype is a unique image — it isn’t a print, it isn’t a reproduction of any kind. When you have a camera set up to take a daguerreotype and the sitter is in front of you, for example, one of these old men who actually looked and knew and talked to leaders of the Revolution … the light is coming from the sun, hitting his face, and bouncing off of his face through the camera and onto that very same plate.
For more on the lives of Revolutionary War soldiers, read Sarah Josepha Buell Hale’s The Solider of the Revolution, a moving account of the sacrifices families made during the Revolutionary War, and Walt Whitman’s The Last of the Sacred Army, a story honoring the memories of early patriots.
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Tags: American Founding, American Revolution, art