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Photography Comes to the Polar Regions--Almost

Which way did the camera go first: north or south? The Antarctic edged out her northern counterpart by only a handful of years. James Clark Ross’ narrative of his 1839-43 expedition does not reveal any photographic outfit in its inventory, but one of his medical men later noted just such an apparatus for posterity. Dr. Joseph D. Hooker was lecturing about the historic expedition at the Royal Institution of South Wales in 1846 when he offered these words:

I believe no instruments, however newly invented, was omitted, even down to an apparatus for daguerreotyping and talbotyping, and we left England provided with a register for every known phenomenon of nature, though certainly not qualified to cope with them all.

The responsibility for any photographic equipment fell upon the expedition’s medical men. At the time, the practice in the Royal Navy was for medical officers to double as scientists on such voyages, and under the conditions, coping with new inventions was challenging for these gentlemen

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