This section of the library presents accounts of the history photography and of albumen printing, from 19th and 20th Century perspectives. Towler (1864) and van Monckhoven (1863) both write extensively on the history and pre-history of photography. Towler traces the pre-history of photography back to the discovery of light sensitivity of silver halides attributed to the 18th century chemist Charles William Scheele. Working forward he describes in some details the experiments by Josiah Wedgewwod, Humprey Davy, Joseph-Nicéphore Niepce and Louis Jaques Mande Daguerre. He then goes on to discuss the work of his more immediate antecedents and peers, including William Henry Fox Talbot, John Herschel, Mungo Ponton and Niepce de St. Victor. Of tremendous historical value even by contemporary standards, Tower's history of photography seems to have been largely integrated into the canon of contemporary thought on the origins of the medium. The focus of van Monckhoven's writing on the history of photography is to describe the development of the major photographic processes with special emphasis on individual achievements and innovations.
The historical aspects of James Reilly's Albumen and Salted Book (1980) deal primarily with the history of albumen as a photographic material, placing most emphasis on the history and development of albumen paper. Of particular note, Reilly credits the first appearance of albumen in photography to the otherwise unidentified "H.L" writing in the The Athenaeum in 1839 -- only three months after the first account of a practical method of paper-based photography presented by William Henry Fox Talbot. He unequivocally attributes the "invention" of the albumen printing to Louis Désiré Blanquart-Evrard in 1850.
Robert Sobieszek's British Masters of the Albumen Print provides a technical description as context for his historical account of albumen printing in the latter half of the 19th Century. Sobieszek describes how the medium became more democratic with the introduction of factory prepared albumen paper. He describes the effect of this democratization as producing not only "quintessentially Victorian pictures" but "some exceptionality modern and essentially pure photographic images." His catalog essay is richly illustrated using several sheets of microfiche -- here represented by numerous JPEG images.