Possible Emily Dickinson Daguerreotype at Amherst College

By Jason Boog Comment

Amherst College Archives and Special Collections has a copy of a 19th Century daguerreotype that could be the second photograph in existence of Emily Dickinson as an adult.

We’ve embedded a photo of the daguerreotype above (with Dickinson possibly on the left)–scholars are still trying to authenticate it, but evidence is mounting that it is an image of the great poet. Anyone can see the image upon request at the college, as scholars “hope that anyone with information about the photograph will come forward.” Here’s more from the archives:

The evidence for identifying this image as Dickinson is very good so far; in fact, all of the current evidence is in its favor, including computer work with detailed scans of the original daguerreotypes (1847 and 1859) and an ophthalmological report (Susan Pepin Report–pdf) facilitated by Polly Longsworth in March, 2010. Certainly the addition of a second sitter of whom there are multiple images in existence helps the case: if one can show that it’s Kate Turner, a known friend of Dickinson, then it increases the chance that the other sitter who looks like Dickinson is Dickinson. One sure point of contention is the clothing: people will note that the dress “Dickinson” wears seems to be out of date for a late 1850s photograph. However, that evidence may be of less significance when one considers the 23-year-old Dickinson’s comment to friend Abiah Root in 1854, “I’m so old fashioned, Darling, that all your friends would stare” (Johnson letter 166).
What do you think? Is this a new photo of Dickinson? You can compare with this daguerreotype of a teenage Dickinson.