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James Presley Ball

Posted by Whitmore, February 28, 2009 07:31pm | Post a Comment

James Presley Ball
was one of the most successful and famous African-American daguerreotypists of the19th century. Born in 1825 in Virginia, Ball opened his first photography studio at the age of twenty in Cincinnati, Ohio, just a few years after the invention of the daguerreotype. Business didn’t fare well, but the following year when he returned to Richmond, Virginia, Ball found considerable success with his new studio. By 1847 he took to the road again, this time as a traveling daguerreotypist, eventually returning to Cincinnati. In 1855 Ball published an abolitionist pamphlet depicting the horrors of slavery; accompanying his publication was an exhibition of his daguerreotypes on the subject of slavery, which he exhibited several times in the pre-Civil War years. After living some three decades in Ohio, he moved to Minneapolis, opening a daguerreotype studio there with his son. In 1887 Ball moved to Helena, Montana. That same year he was selected as the official photographer for a celebration of the 25th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation. While living in Montana he was also elected a delegate to the Republican convention for the Montana territory in 1894. In his years in Montana he produced hundreds of incredible photographs depicting life in the White, Black and Chinese communities. In 1900, he moved to Seattle, Washington opening his final studio, the Globe Photo Studio. In poor health, James Presley Ball moved once again, this time to Honolulu, Hawaii, where he died in 1904. His extensive body of work is housed at the Cincinnati Art Museum, Cincinnati Historical Society, Montana Historical Society, and the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, as well as in many private collections.

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American Culture (94), James Presley Ball (1), Art (88), History (52), Photography (26), Black History Month (122), Daguerreotype (2)