My Likeness Taken
Daguerreian Portraits in America, 1840-1860
Joan L. Severa
The Kent State University Press
During the nineteenth century—a time of great technical and cultural change—fashion was a cultivating force in the development of American society, influenced by one’s social status, geographic location, and economic standing.
My Likeness Taken is a collection of daguerreotype portraits of men, women, and children taken between 1840 and 1860. Selected from the top collections in the United States, each image is analyzed to clarify datable clothing and fashion components. With subjects from among the best-dressed members of society, these portraits—reproduced in full color—reflect the latest fashion developments, trends, and influences.
For students of photographic and costume history, this is extraordinary material. Many of these images have never before been published, and Severa’s keen analysis adds immeasurably to our understanding of the importance of dress in American society. Photo archivists and collectors, costume curators, social historians, material culturalists, and theater designers will find My Likeness Taken an invaluable resource.
Joan L. Severa, age 89, passed away on March 5, 2015. She was born on August 7, 1925, in Spring Green, Wisconsin. Her career started at the Wisconsin State Historical Society in 1958, and by 1979 she had worked her way up to Curator of Costume and Textiles, which included Decorative Arts. During her tenure, Joan published many articles on historic costume for living history centers and created the Patterns of History. Among her many achievements is her book, Dressed for the Photographer 1840-1900. The book won the CSA Millia Davenport Award in 1996, and prizes from the Society for the Preservation of New England Antiquities, the Victorian Society in America, Wisconsin Library Association and the Golden Pen Writing Award from the United States Institute for Theater Technicians. She followed up with another book, My Likeness Taken.