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Legacies: Collecting America's History at the Smithsonian, by Steven Lubar and Kathleen M. Kendrick
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Paper negative made by William Henry Fox Talbot, 1839Paper negative made by William Henry Fox Talbot, 1839

The National Museum of American History has one of the most significant collections of material associated with Talbot, the British inventor of the negative-positive process that became the basis for modern photography. Talbot artifacts had been eagerly sought since the nineteenth century, and by 1965, when Eugene Ostroff, curator of photography, traveled to the Talbot home to look for additional materials, all he found were hundreds of faded negatives that other museums had considered not worth collecting. Thinking they might be useful in his own research, Ostroff purchased the negatives, which historians now value as revealing records of Talbot's inventive process.

See also: Photography

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