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Augustus Washington

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Augustus Washington: Hartford's Black Daguerreotypist

Washington Daguerrian Gallery, 245 Main Street, Hartford. Late 1840's Augustus Washington was born in Trenton, New Jersey in 1820 or 1821, the son of a former slave and a woman of South Asian descent. His mother probably died young, since he was raised by a stepmother, also a former slave. Washington struggled to obtain schooling, first in Trenton and later at the Oneida Institute in Whitesboro, New York, Kimball Union Academy in New Hampshire, and Dartmouth College. After teaching for a while in Hartford, he opened a daguerrean studio there, which proved one of the most successful establishments of its kind. While many Hartford daguerreotypists lasted only a few years, Washington continued to make portraits until 1853, when he emigrated to Liberia with his wife and children. He soon became a leader in his new homeland, developing a large sugar plantation and serving in the Liberian House of Representatives and Congress.

The Graphics Collection is open to the public by appointment from 1:00 to 5:00, Monday through Friday. For an appointment, contact Nancy Finlay, Curator of Graphics, at (860) 236-5621, x236.

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Page author: Stephen Yearl Top

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