Unit 5 Overview:
Wet Plate Processes &
Other 19th C Advancements

Close-up of a glass plate negative, by Christchurch City Libraries. CC-BY-NC-SA

View this 6/12 minute video announcement or click here to read the transcript.


This unit introduces you to significant photographic advancements that occurred in the 1850s and eventually led to the demise of the calotype and daguerreotype.These include several of wet plate collodion processes (glass plate negatives, tintypes, and ambrotypes), albumen paper prints, the carte de visite, and stereograms. You will also examine how these photographic images were used and valued by people during this period and evaluate the impact they had on society.

Learning Objectives

  1. List the photographic advancements that occurred in the 1850s that made the calotype and daguerreotype obsolete.
  2. Discuss the significant characteristics of these new photographic processes that resulted them to be more in demand than daguerreotypes and calotypes.
  3. Identify the advantages and disadvantages of the glass plate negative process.
  4. Identify the similarities and differences between the popular wet plate processes of mid 19th-century (the glass plate negative process, the tintype, and the ambrotype) and daguerreotypes and calotypes.
  5. Examine relationships between the 19th century use of the carte de visite and "selfies" today.
  6. Discuss how mid 19th century photographic processes contributed to the social construction of "photographic truth" and cite examples of how this notion continues to play a role in our lives today.