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The Draper Family

The Draper family made a number of important contributions to American science. John William Draper (1811-82), a chemist, was one of the first American practitioners of photography and did pioneering work in astronomical photography and the chemical effects of radiant energy. A professor at New York University in the late 1830s to early 1840s, Draper conducted experiments with early photographic processes such as the daguerreotype that led to successful scientific images. His photomicrographs of spectrums and frog's blood, early photographs of the moon, and potentially the first daguerreotype portrait made in America give him a distinguished place in photographic history.

Draper's sons, Daniel and Henry, were instrumental in assisting their father in his work. Henry Draper (1837-1882) did astronomical photography and stellar spectral analysis. Daniel Draper (1841-1931) established the New York Meteorological Observatory in Central Park. Another son, John C. Draper (1835-1885), was a noted physician and chemist.


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