January 23, 2022

Early Victorian Photos Featured on New Website, William Henry Fox Talbot Catalogue Raisonné Launches Online

From BT.com:

Launched by the Bodleian Libraries at the University of Oxford, the website brings together the complete works of William Henry Fox Talbot who is hailed as the British father of photography.

The site, which can be accessed for free, has been launched in time to celebrate the anniversary of the photographic pioneer’s birthday, which was February 11 1800.


From Bodleian Libraries

For the first time ever, users can discover and search through annotated digitized images of Talbot’s photographs gathered from collections around the world. The fascinating images show the emergence and development of photography while capturing moments of early Victorian life.


The Bodleian Libraries have spent the last two years translating these images into a modern online form. The catalogue integrates the holdings of more than 100 international public and private collections including items from the British Library, the National Media Museum, New York’sMetropolitan Museum of Art, the J. Paul Getty Museum and the Smithsonian Institution, as well as smaller but significant holdings in Russia, Estonia, South Africa, Canada, France and others worldwide.

Launching with more than 1,000 images, these will be added to weekly until the entire 25,000 negatives and prints known worldwide have been published.


In this new catalogue raisonné, images of prints and negatives are accompanied by notes, annotations and essays, with links to relevant publications and websites. Users can search images by photographer, title, collection, provenance, date, genre, geographic location and keywords then tag, save or compare images and create, annotate and store their own collections or search results, all free of charge. Since many of these primordial images survive in a faded state, they can be enhanced for study onscreen by simple tools that magnify the images and adjust the contrast and density. Negatives lacking a print will be accompanied by a digital positive.

Importantly users can view surviving negatives alongside the prints they are made from, making this the first online catalogue to make the connection between corresponding Talbot prints/images no matter where in the world the original print is held. For example, users to the site can see an image of a negative held in the Smithsonian alongside salt prints made from it that are held in the J. Paul Getty Museum, the British Library and other private collections.

The images are accompanied by extensive cross-referencing to other sources, such as Talbot’s notebooks held in the British Library and the 10,000 Talbot letters available online atfoxtalbot.dmu.ac.uk, a project at De Montfort University also directed by Professor Schaaf. In 2014, the Bodleian acquired the personal archive of Talbot, which includes original manuscripts, correspondence, family diaries and scientific instruments. The archive is also rich in physical objects depicted in Talbot’s photographs, for example the actual glassware depicted in his famous ‘Articles of Glass’ published in The Pencil of Nature.

Learn More, Read the Complete Announcement

From the Project Blog:

In 2012 the Bodleian Library embarked on a two year fundraising effort to acquire the personal archive of William Henry Fox Talbot.  The last of the family was departing Lacock Abbey, making this unique study collection available.  There are a few photographs in it, but the majority of the more than 1000 items through the physical testimony of objects illustrate just what shaped Henry Talbot’s thinking and how he led his life.  It is a delightful miscellany of albums, locks of hair, scientific instruments, dried plant specimens and many other things.  Some of the actual objects that Talbot photographed – glassware, paintings and stained glass – can be compared to his renditions.  After two years of cataloguing and re-housing, Matthew Neely and Charlotte McKillop-Mash have completed an online catalogue of this collection, making it fully publicly accessible for the first time.


Read the Complete Blog Post

The post is loaded with both interesting background and some “how to”  info. 


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Additional Resources

See Also: Learn More About the Project

See Also: William Henry Fox Talbot Biography

Previous Mentions on infoDOCKET

Bodleian Libraries Launch Project to Create Online Catalogue Raisonne Of William Henry Fox Talbot’s Photographs (May 11, 2015)

Bodleian Libraries Awarded £1.2 Million to Help Acquire Personal Archive of William Henry Fox Talbot (January 7, 2013)

About Gary Price

Gary Price (gprice@mediasourceinc.com) is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at Ask.com, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.