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Caught by the Camera’s Eye

Among the millions of research images in the department of image collections are thousands of people captured along with views of architecture and art. Some creatively posed, some accidental passers-by, tourists, curious children, or families showing off their homes (and dogs), the folks populating these 19th-century photographs give a fascinating glimpse of the fashion and habits of their era.  

This selection of British and American photographs includes a variety of photo types from the 1850s through the 1880s. Only one photograph has tentatively identified sitters; for the rest, we can only hypothesize about the identities and occupations of these inhabitants of the past.

Click on a slide above to view a larger image and detailed description (50 images total)