Link above to the story of Robert Cornelius - first male face photographed.
Robert Cornelius was the son of Christian Cornelius, a Dutch immigrant to Philadelphia in 1783. A well-to-do manufacturer of lamps and chandeliers, the elder Cornelius sent his son to private school where he took a special interest in chemistry. In 1831, he began to work for his father and specialized in silver-plating and metal polishing, a skill for which he was so sufficiently well-renowned, that in 1844, the newly-created Smithsonian Institute entrusted some of its early experiments to him. It was natural, then, for Joseph Saxton to approach Cornelius for the silver plate required for his daguerreotype of Central High School, and equally natural for Cornelius himself to become interested in the procedure.
Cornelius did not make much of his achievement. In fact, it only survived by chance. In 1864, Marcus Aurelius Root, one of several pupils Cornelius took, published The Camera and the Pencil
, which provided much of the information on which all historians of early American photography rely. Root organized the exhibit on the history of photography at the Centennial Exhibition in Philadelphia in 1876, where it was noticed by Julius Sachse, whose father had worked as a designer for Cornelius and who was the subject of one of the earliest daguerreotypes. Sachse, himself a noted Philadelphia photographer and future editor the American Journal of Photography
, began taking an interest in Cornelius' work, interviewing him and other aged members of the American Philosophical Society and trying to get the story straight.
Shortly before he died in 1893, Cornelius told Sachse that he had taken portraits as early as October, 1839. No corroborating evidence was found until 1975, when Murphy D. Smith, librarian at the American Philosophical Society, found a photograph of Goddard dated on the back December 6, 1839, the date Cornelius and Goddard introduced their invention to the Society. Cornelius had earlier taken a self-portrait, but because it was off-center he had Goddard pose for another for presentation to America's leading learned Society. This is that off center photo.