Daguerreotype of Sarah Helen Whitman (1856)

The first known photographic likeness of Sarah Helen Whitman was taken in 1856 when she was 53 years old. The daguerreotype taken by Providence photographer Joseph White depicts the subject in profile view with her dark brown hair peeking past her accustomed head-wear with a black veil and ribbon tied in a bow under her chin. All of Helen’s friends remarked that she maintained a youthful beauty her entire life, and it’s evident in this daguerreotype.

The daguerreotype is in Brown University’s special collections at the John Hay Library and can be viewed by appointment.

Image courtesy of Brown University Library