Who was this serious little girl standing so perfectly still to have her portrait made? She is dressed for an outing, her straw bonnet carefully placed on the table beside her and a tasseled basket dangling from her arm. Her name is lost to posterity, but her penetrating gaze has endured. Her "mirror image," as daguerreotypes were called, will reflect her likeness for generations to come. Her flesh has been lightly hand-colored, a common nineteenth-century practice that added a touch of realism to black-and-white photographs.
Although expensive for most of the population--daguerreotypes cost roughly five times the average working-class daily wage in the 1840s--many working-class people sat for daguerreotypists to have their likeness made. Sitters planned for their portraits as carefully as for the most important ceremony, with every detail of presentation thought out beforehand.