Scientific Specimens


J.E. Whitney Studio, Cut Nose, 1862. Carte-de-visite.
J.E. Whitney Studio, MA-ZA-OO-NIE
(The Little Bird Hunter), 1862. Carte-de-Visite











The Other = refers to that which is 'other' than the concept being considered. The term often means a person other than oneself, and is often capitalised. The Other is singled out as different.
* Please remember to read Allan Sekula's The Body and the Archive for Monday. Feel free to search online for summaries that will help you to understand key concepts.
J.T. Zealy, Renty, African born slave, 1850.  Daguerreotype.











Phrenology = the study of the shape and physical features of the skull and head that is based on the belief that these features can determine character and personality traits

Physiognomy = the study of facial characterisitcs based on the belief that these features can determine character and personality traits

Phrenological Head

Buchanan's Organology

Spurzheim’s Phrenological Head from Phrenology or the Doctrine of Mental Phenomenon, 1832.











Ways in which photography met
19th century science's needs:

  • Used to document and preserve visual data
  • Used for identification purposes
  • Assumed to be "truthful,"
    used as evidence of the "real"
"Only photography, as truthful as a mirror, could attain such desirable perfection." - Duchenne de Boulogne
Duchenne de Boulogne, Study of muscles in the face and emotion, Fright. 1852 - 1856.












Darwin's The Expression of Emotions in Man and Animals, 1872











Duchenne de Boulogne, Study of muscles in the face and emotion, 1852 - 1856.











Diamond believed that photographs could be useful aides in the diagnosis and treatment of mental illness
  • Sought the physical symptoms of madness
  • The project expresses a belief in "normal" vs. "abnormal" character
Dr. Hugh Welch Diamond, Asylum Patient, 1855.











Dr. Hugh Welch Diamond, Patient, 1855.
Hugh Welch Diamond, Seated Woman with Bird,
c. 1855.  Albumen print.
transparency = a direct translation of reality in which subjects are not suggested, as in the calotype and daguerreotype, but are clearly stated and defined without overt intervention
"The picture speaks for itself."  Dr. Hugh Welch Diamond











Positivism = popular philosophical approach during 19th century that proposed that the only authentic knowledge is scientific knowledge and that all things are ultimately measurable
Positivism supported the 19th century belief in photographic objectivity
Charcot demonstrating his patient's hysteria











hysteria = a nervous affection, occurring almost exclusively in women, in which the emotional and reflex excitability is exaggerated, and the will power correspondingly diminished, so that the patient loses control over the emotions, becomes the victim of imaginary sensations, and often falls into paroxism or fits.
  • Charcot used hypnosis to induce hysterical state in patients believing that hysteria was a neurological disorder
Charcot Hysteric
  • Made weekly public presentations of his patients who would act out the symptoms of mental illness



"I stand here merely as a photographer, I write down what I see."  - Charcot

Photographer Unknown. Attitudes Passionelles plate 21 from Charcot’s P’lconographie photographique de La Salpetriere, 1876.











Albert Londe, Hysterical Yawning as shown in Jean-Martin Charcot’s
Nouvelle Iconographie de la Salpêtrière c.1890.










Photographer Unknown, Hysteria Induced Epilepsy from photographique de La Salpetriere, 1876.


more on Charcot


Hysteria and the Long Strange History of the Vibrator











Ethnographic Studies

ethnogoraphy = descriptive anthropology


Attributed to Frederick Christian Lewis, Portrait of Saartjie “Sarah” Baartman a.k.a. The Hottentot Venus, 1810.

Lithograph of Nicolas Huet le Jeune’s painting of Sawtche Baartman, 1815.