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  The research archive of Gary W. Ewer regarding the history of the daguerreotype

On this day, (August 9) in the year 1901, the following obituary appeared in "The Transcript" (Boston): ------------------------------------------------- Josiah Johnson Hawes, Dies in His Ninety-Fourth Year Josiah Johnson Hawes, who was said to be the oldest photographer in America, died on Wednesday. He was born in East Sudbury, Feb. 20, 1808, and was therefore in his ninety-fourth year. He received his education in the common schools, studied art without a teacher, and painted miniatures, portraits and landscapes until 1841. At that time he became interested in the invention of Daguerre through Gouraud, his demonstrator, and in company with Albert S. Southworth opened a studio on Tremont row. For more than half a century Mr. Hawes conducted business in the same rooms which are today much the same as when he took possession. He was an ardent admirer of old Boston and it was a delight to hear him tell of such beautiful places as the Gardiner Greene estate on Pemberton square on which his back windows looked out. Among those who sat before Mr. Hawes' camera were Daniel Webster, Charles Sumner, Rufus Choate, Louis Kossuth, Theodore Parker, Emerson, Channing, Jared Sparks, Alcott, Lyman Beecher, Thomas Starr King, Dorothea Dix, Lucy Larcom, Oliver Wendell Holmes, Longfellow and many more whose fame still lives. Jenny Lind and her lover, Otto Goldschmidt, were taken while seated hand in hand and she carried to her Swedish home many likenesses of herself by the new process which was then attracting world-wide attention and admiration. Charles Dickens was a frequent visitor, although he never posed, but with James T. Fields as his companion, he often used to climb the winding stairs. The studio or "saloon," as it was called then was a meeting-place for all Boston, and many a pleasant bit of reminiscence could Mr. Hawes relate to an interested listener. The picture that appealed most strongly to his artistic sense was the one he made of Fanny Carter, a Boston belle, now Mrs. Ronalds of London. The reproductions of Chief Justice Shaw's daguerreotype are often seen in halls and law schools. One adorns the Boston Public Library. Mr. Hawes was present when the first dose of ether was administered by Dr. Warren in the Massachusetts General Hospital. His pictures of Boston as it appeared a generation ago have always been much sought. In late years, Mr. Hawes revived the art of daguerreotyping with marked success. He had little sympathy with the modern notion of retouching negatives and thereby destroying all individuality, and Daguerre's process found an unusually fine student in him. He was the inventor of numerous mechanical devices, such as the swing back camera, the reflecting stereoscope, the multiplying camera and the curtain plate holder, the weighted triple lens, a clamp for polishing, the vignette, etc. He was a man of scrupulous integrity, a staunch friend and an ideal head of a family. He had fine taste in art and literature and with his poetic temperament was combined a keen mind, great energy and strong will. His intellectual power diminished only slightly with advancing years and his death was very sudden. He had been for nearly fifty years a member of Mt. Vernon Church, where until within a few months his beautiful, venerable figure was always present on Sunday mornings. He was married in 1849 to Nancy Niles Southworth of West Fairlee, Vt., who died in 1895. The children who survive him are Miss Alice M. Hawes, Miss Marion A. Hawes and Edward Southworth Hawes, teacher in the Polytechnic Institute of Brooklyn. The funeral, which will be private, will take place Saturday from the family home, No. 61 Temple street. The interment will be in Natick. (Thanks to Roger Watson at the George Eastman House for providing this text.) ----------------------------------------------------------------- 08-09-95

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