Dorothy Catherine Draper

Dorothy Catherine Draper

Sister of American philosopher, physician, chemist, historian and photographer John William Draper
Date of Birth: 06.08.1807
Country: USA

  1. Dorothy Catherine Draper: The First Woman Photographed
  2. A Pioneer in Photography
  3. The First Clear Portrait

Dorothy Catherine Draper: The First Woman Photographed

Dorothy Catherine Draper was the sister of the American philosopher, physician, chemist, historian, and photographer John William Draper. She holds the distinction of being the first woman in the world to be captured on a clear portrait photograph.

A Pioneer in Photography

In the late 1839, shortly after Louis Daguerre announced his method of fixing images on a silver-coated copper plate, J.W. Draper, who was a chemist and a professor at New York University (later becoming the President of the American Chemical Society), began conducting experiments to improve the Daguerreotype process. He also designed his own original camera.

The First Clear Portrait

In early 1840, J.W. Draper successfully obtained a clear photographic portrait of his sister Dorothy. The photograph was taken on the roof of the main building of New York University on a cloudy day, with an exposure time of 65 seconds. In order to achieve greater contrast in the image, Dorothy had to cover her face with a layer of flour.