Thomas M. V. Doughty was born on July 1 1824 in Union Vale, New York. In his early 20s he was living and supporting himself as an artist, along with his brother and fellow artist John H. Doughty. He received daguerreotype instruction in New York City with Connecticut native Seth Catlin Landon, one of the earliest commercial photographers in the United States. Shortly thereafter, Mr. Doughty relocated to Lakeville, Connecticut, where he owned and operated a daguerreian wagon for a time. He married Elizabeth Sheldon, who worked alongside her husband as his assistant. Together, they had a son, John Gilbert, and daughters Carrie, Alice, Sophia, and Emily.
By the mid-1850s, Mr. Doughty moved his family and his business to Winsted, Connecticut, where he purchased Mr. Landon's Sunshine Gallery in February 1856. Within two years, he received a lucrative commission from Williams College in Massachusetts to produce 8,000 photographs of staff and students. During the height of the Civil War, Mr. Doughty opened a studio with his brother-in-law, King T. Sheldon. Specializing in cartes-des-visite, Mr. Doughty photographed several members of the 7th Connecticut infantry, including Lt. Robert Dempsey, who was killed in the Battle of Olustee in 1864. Always willing to share his knowledge with aspiring photographers, Mr. Doughty was a frequent contributor to The British Journal of Photography. In 1880, he described his painstaking process for cleaning glass negatives, which included carefully filling the edges so they would not cut, soaking them in diluted sulfuric acid for at least 12 hours before thoroughly washing and drying. For glass negatives, Mr. Doughty employed his wife's suggestion of polishing them with woolen cloths to prevent rusting. He mixed his own collodion, maintaining doing so achieved superior results to the solutions he purchased. His plain paper prints were always finished in either India ink or water colors, and albumen prints were retouched with an India ink mixture to match the color of the prints.
Mr. Doughty continued working after the death of his wife in 1882. Upon retirement, he moved to the Litchfield County town of Salisbury to be closer to his children and their families. Thomas M. V. Doughty died in 1911 and was buried alongside his wife in Winsted's Forest View Cemetery. His son John G. Doughty became a respected aerial photographer, and the CDVs and photographs of father and son have become prized collectables.
1880 The British Journal of Photography, Vol. XXVII (London: Henry Greenwood & Co.), pp. 30-31, 263.
2014 Craig's Daguerreian Registry: Research on American Photographers 1839-1860 (URL: http://www.craigcamera.com/dag).
2004 Faces of the Civil War: An Album of Union Soldiers and Their Stories by Ronald S. Coddington (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press), p. 134.
2014 Thomas M. V. Doughty (1824-2011) (Source: antique cameras) (URL: http://www.antiquecameras.net/1883blairenvelope.html).
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