Wetherby & Kent – Two Generations – Two Cameras – One City.

As the old saying goes – “One picture is worth a thousand words.”

Which now brings us full circle. Isaac A. Wetherby (above left) in the 19th century. Fred W. Kent (above right) in the 20th. The one constant through all these years?

Photographs of Our Town – Iowa City.

For those of us desiring to explore Our Iowa Heritage, we must give a tip of the old hat to two extraordinary men – both armed with a single camera. One strolled the streets of Iowa City during the middle part of the 19th century. The other walked, drove, and yes, even flew over our fair city during the first half of the 20th century. Together, they snapped over 60,000 pictures along the way. From daguerreotypes, ambrotypes and tintypes to modern-day black-and-white and Kodachrome film, Isaac A. Wetherby and Fred W. Kent used their keen artistic eye to give us an expansive look at the people and the places of this city we love.

Let’s look at a few side-by-side pictures…

Wetherby’s State Capitol Building (1854) – Kent’s Old Capitol (1972)

April 1865 – Memorial Service for President Abraham Lincoln, photographed by Isaac A. Wetherby.
November 1963 – Memorial Service for President John Kennedy, photographed by Fred W. Kent.

Click here to read more about these iconic moments of mourning…

mid-1820s first experiments with early photographic techniques
1839 daguerreotype process is made public in France
1839 the first camera, the Giroux Daguerreotype, is made commercially available
1840s1840s widespread use of the daguerreotype in Europe and United States
1840 paper negative invented by William Henry Fox Talbot
1843 advent of the photographic enlarger
1845 Matthew Brady opens portrait studio in New York City
1849 advent of the twin-lens camera and the development of the stereoscopic image
1849 first images of Egypt are published and give rise to travel photography
1851 introduction of the glass plate negative process
1856 photojournalism is invented when images of the Crimean War are published
1861 Matthew Brady and other photographers record Civil War
1870s1870s U.S. Congress sends photographers William H. Jackson and Timothy O’Sullivan out West to document the American landscape
1880s1880s improvements to glass plate negative process renders it easier and more convenient for photographers
1880s general use of the gelatin silver print
1887 introduction of cellulose photographic film negative
1888 introduction of the Kodak box camera simplifies photography and casual “snapshot” photography is born
1900s1900 Kodak sells the $1.00 Brownie camera and makes photography widely available
1902 Alfred Stieglitz publishes Camera Work which promotes photography as an art
1920s1920s advent of the carbro print – the first full-color photographic process
1930s1935 development of Kodachrome film – the first multi-layered color film
1940s1940s development of the color chromogenic print
1947 Edwin Land creates the dye diffusion transfer print – commonly known as instant photography or the “Polaroid”
1960s1960s rise in popularity of the Polaroid camera
1963 release of the Polaroid color camera
1963 earliest pre-cursor to the digital camera is developed at Stanford University

Read more about Issac A. Wetherby…

Read more about Fred W. Kent…

Read about the James Family – Iowa City’s second generation of photographers – who also had a studio on Clinton Street (1874-1909).

Kudos to the amazing resources below for the many quotes, photographs, etc. used on this page.

An Introduction to Photographic Processes, New York Public Library

Early Iowa City Photography on Display at Old Capitol Museum, Erin Jordan, Cedar Rapids Gazette, October 24, 2017

Frederick W. Kent Photograph Collection, University of Iowa Libraries

Click here to go on to the next section…

Click here for a complete INDEX of Our Iowa Heritage stories…