Nineteenth-Century Scientific Travel and Racial Photography: The Formation of Louis Agassiz’s Brazilian Collection

By Maria Helena P. T. Machado
Published May 8, 2012

Louis Agassiz Photographic Collection. Pure Race Series. Africa Album. Somatological triptych, identified as Mina Aouni. Photographer: Augusto Stahl. Rio de Janeiro, 1865. Courtesy of the Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology, Harvard University.
Louis Agassiz Photographic Collection. Mixed Race Series. Phrenological portrait, unidentified woman. Photographer: Walter Hunnewell. Manaus, 1865–1866. Courtesy of the Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology, Harvard University.

The photographic collection created by Louis Agassiz during the Thayer Expedition to Brazil in 1865–66 comprises a valuable visual record that sheds important light not only on the history of anthropology but also on nineteenth-century studies on race.(1) With nearly two hundred images and housed in the Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology at Harvard University, this collection remains for the most part unpublished to this day. Surprisingly little known, these photographs represent one of the most extensive sets of pictures portraying the diversity of the Brazilian population during the second half of the nineteenth century.

Agassiz’s Brazilian collection should not be considered simply a lesser by-product of a larger scientific expedition organized around the principles of the journeys undertaken by naturalists in the mid-nineteenth century. Much to the contrary, Agassiz sought consciously to reproduce on a larger scale the famous daguerreotype collection that he commissioned (and which photographer Joseph T. Zealy executed) in South Carolina in the 1850s. Agassiz’s broader plan was to establish a visual archive of all the racial types on earth, with special attention to blacks and their mixed descendants. This plan grew out of Agassiz’s deep commitment to defending creationism and polygenism, at the same time as he opposed “hybridism” within the American context during the years preceding and immediately following the Civil War (1861–1865). As one of the leading ideologues of segregation, which was to develop more fully in the postbellum years, Agassiz demonstrated that his commitment to racial theories that defended the separation of races and the wardship or deportation of American populations of African descent was not a spur-of-the-moment opinion. In effect, it reflected convictions that had developed over the course of his scientific career.

The Science of Race: Creationism, Polygenism, and Hybridism

Alongside his studies of aquatic fauna and geology, as a natural scientist Agassiz was also concerned with the study of human races.(2) From the time he first arrived in the United States in the mid-1840s, the Swiss scientist was engaged in the debate over race, initially taking sides with the polygenists (that is, those who believed that humankind was not one, but rather was formed out of separate species involving more than one divine creation), and later embracing a theory of degeneration, which held that mixed races did not carry the best characteristics of their forebears, but rather that miscegenation resulted in degeneration and infertility. It is important to bear in mind that Agassiz became involved in the race debate in the American context, where he defended both abolition and racial segregation. His arrival in Brazil with the Thayer Expedition coincided with the final episodes of the Civil War, when concern about the future role of persons of African descent in American society was a burning issue.

Beginning in 1850, Agassiz spent time in southern cities of the United States, giving public lectures on the origins of life and of the human races. In direct contact with racialist and polygenist thinkers, Agassiz took decisive steps to complete his theory by including mankind or the “human species” in his zoological scheme. As a defender of creationism, Agassiz considered polygenism as simply one more necessary step toward completing the jigsaw puzzle of the mystery of the origins of life. His hypotheses, implicit in which was the idea of a static natural world, allowed for the inclusion of mankind in the zoological panorama as a sort of logical culmination.

From this perspective, Agassiz postulated the existence of a natural hierarchy among creatures, not only between animals and humans, but also between different human races, and concluded that this emanated from a superior will, expressing divine intent to establish order in the world. Man simply had to understand and accept this. Blacks had been created by God expressly to inhabit the world’s tropical zones and were members of an inferior human species, whose greatest attribute lay in their physical strength and their capacity for serving others. In face of a superior human race—whites—blacks naturally reacted by abdicating their autonomy in exchange for the security that the command and protection of the whites afforded them. It should be noted that these ideas were shared by proponents of slavery and abolitionists alike. Louis Agassiz himself, although a staunch supporter of segregation, always remained firm in his abolitionist convictions. However, his ideas served the interests of many who defended the institution in the southern United States.(3)

Agassiz completed his creationist and polygenist argument with a fierce condemnation of race mixture or hybridism. The question asked by creationists and those who defended the idea of zoological provinces was, if God had created the flora, fauna, and man in precise ecological niches, what right did man himself have to go against this design, by mixing climates and races and making them interact? For some of the nineteenth-century abolitionists and racialist thinkers, especially in the United States, if the harm caused by the dislocation of Africans was significant, a greater error loomed on the horizon of the post-abolition world, this being the prospect known as hybridism or mulattoism. In 1863, in his efforts to describe the horrors of mixing races, abolitionist Samuel Howe introduced the image of a crystal-clear lake in which the addition of one single drop of color, although remaining invisible, would cause irreparable contamination.(4) Thus, racial ideologues thought that the best solution was to free the whites, that is, to free them of the presence of blacks, who would be sent off to tropical lands, where they would once again inhabit the places that God had designated for them from the beginning of time.

Agassiz’s first public defense of polygenism took place in a lecture delivered to the American Association for the Advancement of Science, in Charleston, South Carolina, in 1850. During that same trip, Agassiz received an invitation from Robert Gibbes, an intellectual well respected in Southern circles and a member of one of the great slaveholding families in the region, to visit some of the great plantations as an opportunity to observe and document “pure races” from Africa, which could be compared to other races. Although it remains unclear how Agassiz came to see photography as a means of achieving his goals, his initiative had a pioneering character. Indeed, in his tour of the plantations, Agassiz took delight in examining the bodies of real Africans and selected representatives from the Ebo, Foulah, Gullah, Guinea, Coromantee, Mandrigo, and Congo peoples to be photographed by Joseph T. Zealy, a professional photographer with a studio in Columbia, South Carolina. At that time, Zealy produced fifteen daguerreotypes that captured the likenesses of Alfred, Jem, Jack and his daughter Drana, Fassena, Renty and his daughter Delia, all slaves, portraying them either in nude, full body, fixed poses (front, back, and profile) or seminude torso, as in Renty’s case.(5)

The South Carolina Photographic Collection and Racial Ideas

It seems that the first natural scientist to come up with the idea of photographing a member of the inferior races for the purpose of corporal analysis was Samuel Morton, who, in 1848, during the annual meeting of the National Academy of Sciences in Philadelphia, examined a Khoisan youth named Henry, later ordering his picture to be taken in profile, thus creating the first known phrenological photograph.(6) Sometime later, Morton gave Henry’s portrait to Louis Agassiz as a gift. Agassiz’s own project resulted in the production of a completely new type of visual documentation, which was intended to create a series of pictorial records that could serve comparative purposes. Conceptually, he proposed what Alan Sekula has described as one of the most prominent features of nineteenth-century photography, which was the creation of an “imaginary archive” in which all living beings could be classified and ordered on a hierarchical scale.(7)

At the same time, the South Carolina collection followed a natural-science method, insofar as it constituted a group of images for the purpose of comparison. Thus, in assembling this first series of anthropological photographs, Agassiz’s chief aim lay not only in the comparison of black bodies and profiles with an imaginary visual archive of whites or Caucasians, although that was also of interest to him. Indeed, he went so far as to insert postcards of Greek statues (such as the Apollo Belvedere) in his Brazilian collection, intending to contrast the purportedly brutish features of Africans and mestizos with the delicate Greek physiognomy, the latter held by European artists and physiognomists since the eighteenth century to be the paragon of human beauty and perfection.(8)

Louis Agassiz Photographic Collection. Pure Race Series. Carte-de-visite, Apollo vom Belvedere. Courtesy of the Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology, Harvard University.

Not unlike his ichthyologic and geological studies, in which Agassiz established standards through the comparisons of different classes of objects and beings, his objective in forming the photographic series was to compile a visual archive allowing for the intercomparison of Africans and mestizos. According to Lewis Gibbes, the celebrated naturalist and physician who hosted Agassiz on his tour of South Carolina plantations, among the prerequisites expected of naturalists was the skill of “reading bodies,” something that distinguished these “learned men” from common people, placing them in a select group that not only could see but could also effectively observe.(9)

Agassiz’s pioneering initiative in constituting a photographic series of somatological and phrenological representations served as a model for anthropologists and natural scientists, with this procedure being reproduced exhaustively throughout the world in the decades that followed. Another important characteristic was the fact that Agassiz expressly chose Africans as photographic models, thus inaugurating a mode of representing the African other, which was also to be emulated in subsequent years and whose results were to find a place in the anthropological museums that began to emerge in Europe and the United States.(10) He was to adopt the same approach in Rio de Janeiro in the 1860s, when creating his “pure race” series of Africans.

The abolition of the Atlantic slave trade and of slavery provided a context for textual and visual classifications of humankind in terms of racial hierarchies, based on the notion of fixed racial differences, both intrinsic and extrinsic. This knowledge reinscribed the old repertory of distinctions established by slave traders and plantation owners in the light of contemporary science. Through the use of new technical resources, such as photography, these theories developed new ways of capturing and representing the human body, seen as a vehicle for racial traits to be revealed to the discriminating eye of the scientist or scholar.

The Politics of Remembering and Forgetting

Once arriving in Brazil, Agassiz showed an interest in studying local populations and sought to document “Brazilian races” through the use of photography. He comments on this effort in the appendix to his Journey in Brazil, in the section entitled “Permanence of Characteristics in Different Human Species.”(11) According to the scientist, the Brazilian population represented an ideal laboratory for studying the consequences of different types of race mixture on the constitution of individuals, since there was such a high incidence of miscegenation. Furthermore, Agassiz saw this as an opportunity to record and analyze the somatological and phrenological characteristics of distinct African ethnic groups, since mid-nineteenth-century Rio de Janeiro gave the natural scientist access to a broad diversity of African peoples that it would have taken years of travel in Africa to see. Finally, as his appendix clearly illustrates, Agassiz sought to compare African “pure racial” types among themselves, as well as to compare them with “mixed race” types, the latter already showing signs of degeneration.

In his efforts to sketch a profile of the Brazilian population, Agassiz requested from Augusto Stahl, a professional photographer in Rio, a set of photographs of Africans, which he considered to be “pure racial types.”(12) This request resulted in two photographic series, the first in the form of racial type and phrenological portraits, and the second composed of somatological triptychs, illustrating primarily male and female African ethnic types in Rio de Janeiro, but also including some Chinese people who lived in the city. In the triptych compositions, each subject appears nude and in fixed postures, front, rear, and profile. Each of the photographs includes an ethnic denomination identifying the subject, which provides a useful index for studying the African groups living in Rio de Janeiro at the time. However, alongside ethnic denominations, other terms such as Muleque and Mulato also appear, signaling categories of age, color, and descent that reflected the terminology employed in slave society at the time, while also revealing the scientific inconsistency of the typology that was adopted.

Stahl’s set of “pure race” photographs stand out because of the neutral form characterizing the serial presentation of the models, their technical quality, and the careful labeling of each subject’s ethnic origins, which indicates that the collection followed well-established scientific instructions. Recently, however, new photographs belonging to the series have been discovered, revealing that other less neutral pictures may also have been produced at the same time.(13)

Louis Agassiz Photographic Collection. Ignez Mina, Rio, 1865. Photographer unknown. Courtesy of the Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology, Harvard University.

This is the case of Ignez Mina, whose photographs appear in an elegant golden frame. Although the photographer for this sequence has not been ascertained, the images were produced in the same place and year as Stahl’s “pure race” series, as “Ignez Mina, Rio, 1865” appears on the back of the prints. The first picture portrays Ignez Mina seated, in profile. In this image, not only do we see the face of a young woman, but we can also observe her close-cropped hair, probably a consequence of the slave owners’ effort to control the spread of lice. Scarifications on her face appear in the form of the famous “cat’s whiskers,” described in different travel accounts as typical of Mina slaves, along with her earrings and the necklace resting on her checkered cloth dress.(14) A second image shows Ignez Mina sitting on a chair with the top of her dress rolled down, displaying her breasts. The next picture reveals the same model from behind, with her right arm extended beside her body and her left arm bent, conforming to standards of somatological photography. An identical golden trim frames this third image. Yet the framing of Ignez’s body causes some surprise. Whether deliberately or not, the frame does not allow Ignez’s head to be seen. What appears in the frame is only the back of the young, nude body of a woman, which suggests an erotically charged and highly personalized approach for this sequence, with the owner of the picture choosing the angles and body parts that he would like to observe, that is, Ignez’s nude torso, buttocks, and legs. Once removed from the frame, the full body of the model can be viewed. At the same time, although Ignez’s image is set within an empty background, a long, dark curtain adorns the scene, causing a rupture in the neutral character of the setting. The identification of the model by name, absent in the other series, lends a highly personal character to the image. What the photographer captured was the image of a specific woman, which included a name, an ethnic origin, an address, and a date. At the same time, however, the owner of the picture, in stripping her of her clothing and elements of her personal identity, depersonalized Ignez through the manipulation of the angles and features presented to the viewer. These elements appear to suggest that all of the photographic sequences that Agassiz commissioned during his expedition to Brazil involved personal and erotic touches in the construction of a collection, which are characteristics that so far were clearly present only in the “mixed race” series from Manaus, as we shall begin to see in the paragraph that follows.

A third set of photographs was made in Manaus, with one of the expedition’s members serving as photographer, providing a visual documentation of “mixed” or “hybrid” Amazonian types. The photographer, Walter Hunnewell, was a Harvard student and volunteer member of the expedition. When the group was in Rio de Janeiro, Agassiz sent Hunnewell to learn the rudiments of photography at one of the city’s photographic establishments, probably either Leuzinger’s or Augusto Stahl’s. Unlike the sequence produced by Stahl, the “mixed race” series displays the photographer’s lack of professional training, as well as the absence of established scientific procedures. The whole set of pictures smacks of improvisation, while pushing the boundaries of good taste.

Agassiz hoped to employ his pure and mixed race photographs to illustrate his ideas on different human races or species, as he himself expressed in a letter to his friend and financial backer of the Thayer Expedition, the Emperor Dom Pedro II of Brazil. In this letter, Agassiz offered a preliminary evaluation of how the research he led in Brazil was unfolding. In mentioning the makeshift photographic atelier set up in Manaus, capital of the Amazon Province, with the express intent of producing a series on “mixed races,” Agassiz made it clear that in his understanding, race and species had different implications when applied to the animal kingdom or to humankind. Explaining the difference, he asserted that his research on race mixing had led him to the conclusion that, among humans, “different races relate to one another in the same way as species do within the animal kingdom . . . .” The excerpt that follows, hence, clearly illustrates Agassiz’s position, which suggests that the debate over whether he considered humankind to be divided into either races or species appears to be a false issue:

The study of human race mixing in different regions also became my concern and I commissioned numerous photographs of all the different types that I was able to observe. The main result I reached is that different races relate to one another in the same way as species do within the animal kindgom, that is, the hybrids resulting from the mixing of people from different races are always a mixture of two primitive types and never the simple reproduction of the characteristics of one or the other of their parents, as in the case of races of domestic animals. In these two cases, the term race thus applies to very different things.(15)

In spite of all his effort in the study of human races, Agassiz in effect produced very modest results. He barely used the Brazilian collection at all, with a few of the prints serving as a basis for the wood engravings that illustrated A Journey in Brazil. After that, the collection was never exhibited, due to a series of political and academic circumstances that rendered his ambitious project for the study of human races obsolete. At the same time, also partly through the acquisition of photographs, especially from the Anthropological Society of Paris, founded in 1859 by Paul Broca, Agassiz assembled a set of albums filled with figures from all corners of the world, each portrayed in typical dress and photographed in his or her “natural environment.”(16) The fourth volume of this set was given the name Negroes and Sundries, and presented series of Africans and African-Americans in different parts of the world. In 1910, these albums were donated to the Peabody Museum at Harvard University by Alexander Agassiz, son of the Swiss scientist and a natural scientist in his own right, who also occupied the position first held by his father as director of the Museum of Comparative Zoology at the same university.(17)

Although he had planned to publish his South Carolina and Brazilian photographic series at some point, Agassiz never actually exhibited his whole collection to a wider audience. Probably the only time that Agassiz displayed and commented on the South Carolina photographs in public was in a lecture on human racial diversity delivered to the Cambridge Scientific Club in September 1850.(18) The Brazilian collection never reached the public eye. The delicate political climate of postbellum New England, along with Louis Agassiz’s own loss of scientific credibility following the publication of Charles Darwin’s The Origin of Species, prevented him from making public what was to be his definitive work in establishing the inferiority of blacks and the ills of hybridism. At some point following Agassiz’s demise in 1873, his son Alexander also donated both of these collections (from South Carolina and Brazil) to the Peabody Museum, probably on the same occasion as the albums mentioned above, that is, in 1910. Although Gwyniera Isaac asserts that the collection was transferred from the Museum of Comparative Zoology to the Peabody in 1935, research in both these institutions failed to come up with any proof of this date, at least in relation to the Brazilian collection.(19)

At the beginning of the twentieth century, the question of racial inferiority acquired new twists. Both creationism and polygenism, once considered to be serious scientific theories, rapidly lost their credibility. As a sign of the new times, the daguerreotypes of South Carolina slaves were put into storage, opening the way for a new visual economy focusing on another nonwhite subject, in an effort to establish collections of images of non-Western peoples and cultures rather than to document racial types. Nevertheless, photography in the service of anthropology continued to produce series of somatological images, such as the one developed by Patrick Putnam among the Mbuti “pygmies” of the Belgian Congo in the 1920s.(20) At that point, however, technical protocols had become more “neutral” and distant from the photographic subject, superseding the personalized aspect associated with early racial and ethnic photography. Given these new perspectives, the fifteen daguerreotypes assembled by Agassiz became lost, tucked away in some nook in the museum.

It was only in 1975 that Elinor Reichlin, staff member at the Peabody Museum, chanced upon the fifteen glass-plate negatives from South Carolina in an unused storage cabinet in the museum’s attic. The six decades bridging the period between the presumed donation of the collection and Reichlin’s unexpected discovery marked a significant shift in perspective and allowed for a new interpretation of the photographic images of Renty and his companions.(21) When they were publicly displayed for the first time, in an exhibition titled Nineteenth-Century Photography, held by the Amon Carter Museum in Fort Worth, Texas, in 1992, the daguerreotype series caused a considerable stir in the United States, provoking a lively debate over the origins, methods, and ideological underpinnings of the collection.(22) The Peabody Museum, for example, considered the oppressive atmosphere and the lack of consent in the production of slave images in South Carolina grounds for establishing a policy of guarded caution in relation to allowing the exhibition of images produced under those conditions.(23)

The Brazilian collection remained out of circulation for nearly a century and a half. When the collection was moved from the Museum of Comparative Zoology to the Peabody, the photographs became separated from the supporting documents, making it difficult to identify the models, to establish the correct dates, and to track the trajectory of the photographic process.(24) The different numerical sequences etched on the glass plates of the “mixed race” series indicate that Agassiz and his assistants carefully recorded information on each of the photographic subjects, following the same procedures used to identify the different species of fish collected by volunteer assistants, including William James, and drawn by the expedition’s artist, Jacques Burkhardt.(25) Not only that, the photographic collection remained uncatalogued, making it difficult for the occasional researcher to consult the images. The same issue of consent on the part of the subjects, especially for the “pure race” series, which probably used slaves as models, raised further obstacles to making this collection available in its entirety.

Similarly, the absence of more complete records documenting the “mixed race” series, which would make it possible to understand the circumstances under which the photographs were made, has also prevented the Peabody from adopting a more open policy on authorizing the reproduction of these images. While we know from Elizabeth Agassiz’s and William James’s accounts that the models—mostly women—recruited by Agassiz to pose naked or partially dressed were for the most part free persons and that many of the women belonged to respectable social circles, there remains little doubt that the atmosphere in the so-called Bureau d’Anthropologie, where the photographs were taken, was not the most dignified setting.(26) The specters of oppression and manipulation loom over both series. This situation is even more evident for the photographs of women, since the boundaries between racial and erotic photography are dangerously blurred. The dressed, partially dressed, and nude models in many photographic series fit within the classic standards of erotic photography.(27)

Consciously informed by racialized and racist precepts, the photographic collections that Louis Agassiz put together in South Carolina, Rio de Janeiro, and Manaus are strikingly current as they evoke the faces, bodies, and lives of people who were erased, not only by the objectifying lens of science, but also by the politics of forgetting. Our aim is to take a step in the opposite direction.

Adopting a cautious yet inquisitive approach, while seeking to analyze the formation of this collection in all of its different dimensions, choosing a narrative tone that avoids naturalizing without shying away from the more polemical aspects presented by the photographs, this work hopes to cast these images in a new and different light. Notwithstanding the racial vision that produced them, we believe that it is possible to resignify the images of Africans, Indians, and mestizos photographed by Louis Agassiz. Insofar as we fix our gaze on these images, new aspects and information will begin to emerge. Certainly one of the most disturbing aspects lies in the fact that the models are rendered fragile through the exposure of their naked bodies at the same instance that they themselves gaze into the camera, and consequently gaze at us, who are viewing the photograph. This provokes an embarrassing situation for us as viewers, as we tend to avoid confronting the scene directly, averting our eyes. However, when we do look at those people who gaze at us, we encounter the force with which they faced a dehumanizing experience, while continuing to be, simply and profoundly, human.

Translated from the Portuguese by John Monteiro

Maria Helena Pereira Toledo Machado is a full professor in the History Department of the University of São Paulo, Brazil. She has published several books and numerous articles covering nineteenth-century slavery, abolition, travel, and photography in Brazil. In 2006, she published the book Brazil through the Eyes of William James and in 2010 organized a photographic exposition along with the book (T)Races of Louis Agassiz: Photography, Body, and Science, Yesterday and Today (coedited with Sasha Hüber). Currently she is preparing, along with John Monteiro, a book with the complete collection of Louis Agassiz’s photographs from Brazil.


(1) This article is an expanded version of the chapter published in Machado, Maria Helena P. T., and Huber, Sasha, eds., (T)races of Louis Agassiz: Photography, Body, and Science, Yesterday and Today (São Paulo: Capacete and 21st São Paulo Art Biennial, 2010).

(2) On Agassiz’s ideas about human races, see, among others: Menand, Louis, The Metaphysical Club: A Story of Ideas in America (New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2001), especially chapters “Agassiz” and “Brazil”; Lurie, Edward, Louis Agassiz: A Life in Science (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins Press, 1988), 143–144; Frederickson, George, The Black Image in the White Mind: The Debate on Afro-American Character and Destiny, 1817–1914 (Hanover, New Hampshire: Wesleyan University Press, 1987), 71–96; and Numbers, Ronald L., The Creationists: From Scientific Creationism to Intelligent Design (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2006), 15–32; Machado, Maria Helena P. T., Brasil a Vapor, Raça, Ciência e Viagem no Século XIX, unpublish livre-docência thesis, FFLCH, Universidade de São Paulo, 2005, 16-85; Machado, Maria Helena P. T. (ed). Brazil through the Eyes of William James. Letters, Diaries, and Drawings, 1865–1866 (Cambridge: David Rockefeller Center for Latin American Studies/Harvard University Press, 2006), 25–40; Machado, Maria Helena P. T., “A Ciência Norte-Americana Visita a Amazônia: Entre o Criacionismo Cristão e o Poligenismo Degeneracionista,” Revista da USP, n. 75, setembro/novembro 2007, 68–75.

(3) On the ideas about deporting African-Americans in the period preceding and after the Civil War, see Burin, Eric, Slavery and the Peculiar Solution (Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 2005); Horne, Gerald, The Deepest South: The United States, Brazil, and the African Slave Trade (New York: New York University Press, 2007); Machado, Maria Helena P. T., Brasil a Vapor . . . , part 1; Machado, Maria Helena P. T., Brazil through the Eyes . . . , 16–17; and Sampaio, Maria Clara C., “Fronteiras Negras ao Sul: A Proposta dos Estados Unidos de Colonizar a Amazônia Brasileira com Afrodescendentes Norte-Americanos na Década de 1860,” unpublished master’s thesis, FFLCH-USP, 2009.

(4) In a letter to Louis Agassiz, dated August 18, 1863, Samuel Howe, militant abolitionist and director of the Freedmen’s Bureau, an agency created during the Civil War to assist freed slaves, wrote: “Some proclaim amalgamation as the remedy, upon the theory that by diluting black blood with white blood in larger and larger proportions, it will finally be so far diluted as to be imperceptible and will disappear. They forget that we may not do the wrong that right may come of it. They forget that no amount of diffusion will exterminate whatever exists; that a pint of ink diffused in a lake is still there, and the water is only the less pure.” Agassiz, Elizabeth,ed., Louis Agassiz: His Life and Correspondence, Ebook # 7068, Gutenberg Project, downloaded July 2004.

(5) Wallis, Brian, “Black Bodies, White Science: Louis Agassiz’s Slave Daguerreotypes, American Art, vol. 9 (Summer 1995), 38–61, “Black Bodies, White Science: The Slave Daguerreotypes of Louis Agassiz,” The Journal of Blacks in Higher Education, 12 (Summer 1996), 102–106 and Banta, Melissa, A Curious and Ingenious Art: Reflections on Daguerreotypes at Harvard (Iowa City: University of Iowa Press, 2000), 43–51.

(6) Banta, Melissa, A Curious and Ingenious Art, 47.

(7) Sekula, Alan, “The Body and the Archive,” in Richard Bolton, ed., The Contest of Meaning: Critical Histories of Photography  (Cambridge, Massachusetts: MIT University Press, 1992), 343–389.

(8) Bindman, David, Ape to Apollo: Aesthetics and the Idea of Race in the Eighteenth Century (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2002), 190–222.

(9) Rogers, Molly, Delia’s Tears: Race, Science, and Photography in Nineteenth-Century America (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2010), 219.

(10) On this subject, see Antinori, Alessandra Cardelli, “Le foto africane del fondo Giglioli nell’archivio fotografico del Museo Pigorini” in Alessandro Triulzi, ed., Fotografia e Storia dell’Africa: atti del Convegno Internazionale, Napoli-Roma, settembre, 1992. Napoli: IVO, 1995, 161–171; Sekula, Alan, “The Body and the Archive,” 343–389; Viditz-Ward, Vera, “Os Crioulos de Freetown” and Chapuis, Frédérique, “Os Precursores de Saint Louis,” in Saint Léon, Pascal Martin, and Fall, N’Gone, eds., Antologia Revue Noire da Fotografia Africana e do Oceano Índico, Séculos XIX e XX (Paris: Revue Noir, 1998), 35–41 and 49–63, respectively; and Geary, Christraud M., In and Out of Focus: Images from Central Africa, 1885–1960 (London: Philip Wilson Publishers, 2002), especially the chapter “The World of Images,” 15–21.

(11) Agassiz, Elizabeth and Louis, A Journey in Brazil (Boston: Ticknor & Fields, 1868), Appendix V, 529–532.

(12) On the concept of “type,” see Elizabeth Edwards, “Photographic ‘Types’: The Pursuit of a Method,” Visual Anthropology, 3: 2-3, 1990, 235–258.

(13) I would like to thank Greg Fried for informing me about his discovery of the Ignez Mina set and Pat Kervick of the Peabody Museum for kindly sending me copies of these images.

(14) For a discussion of Mina peoples and their scarification practices, see Soares, Carlos Eugênio Líbano, and Dos Santos Gomes, Flávio, “Negras Minas no Rio de Janeiro: Gênero, Nação e Trabalho Urbano no Século XIX,” in De Carvalho Soares, Mariza, ed., Rotas Atlânticas da Diáspora Africana: Da Bahia do Benim ao Rio de Janeiro (Niterói: Editora da UFF, 2007), 191–224, along with the article ‘“Pure Race’ Africans and Ethnic Diversity in Nineteenth-Century Rio de Janeiro,” by Dos Santos Gomes, Flávio, on this site.

(15) Louis Agassiz to Dom Pedro II, emperor of Brazil, Pará, February 23, 1866, in Anuário do Museu Imperial, 13, 1952, 100. An excerpt also was included in A Journey in Brazil, 380. Translated from the original in French. Emphasis on the terms “races” and “species” appear in the original letter.

(16) Banta, Melissa, A Curious and Ingenious Art, 49.

(17) Putnam, Frank, “The Peabody Museum of American Archeology and Ethnology,” in Forty-Fourth Report on the Peabody Museum of American Archaeology and Ethnology, 1909–1910 (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1911). Today these albums are kept in the rare book section of the Tozzer Library at Harvard.

(18) Rogers, Molly, Delia’s Tears, 233.

(19) Isaac, Gwyniera, “Louis Agassiz’s Photographs in Brazil: Separate Creations,” History of Photography, 21:1, Spring 1997, 7.

(20) On the development of a visual culture at the Peabody Museum, see Banta, Melissa, and Hinsley, M. Curtis, From Site to Sight: Anthropology, Photography, and the Power of Imagery (Cambridge: Peabody Museum Press, 1986), 11–14 and 18–27.

(21) Unsigned editorial, “Faces of Slavery.” American Heritage, vol. 28, issue 4, June 1997.

(22) Wallis, Brian, “Black Bodies, White Science: Louis Agassiz’s Slave Daguerreotypes,” 40.

(23) Banta, Melissa, and Hinsley, M. Curtis, From Site to Sight, 58–59.

(24) This documentation failed to appear during systematic research at the Peabody, the Museum of Comparative Zoology, and Houghton Archives, Harvard University, in 2003–04 and 2006.

(25) On William James’s participation in the expedition, see Machado, Maria Helene P. T., Brazil through the Eyes of William James. Jacques Burkhardt’s watercolors of fish collected during the Thayer Expedition, kept in the Ernst Mayr Library, may be viewed on the Museum of Comparative Zoology’s website.

(26) Elizabeth Agassiz’s comments on the photographic studio may be seen in Agassiz, Elizabeth and Louis, A Journey in Brazil, 276, and William James’s in Machado, Brazil through the Eyes of William James, 23. See also “Mr. Hunnewell’s Black Hands,” by Monteiro, John, on this site.

(27) Stepan, Nancy Leys, Picturing Tropical Nature (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2001), 85–119.