I recently came across an image of the well known daguerrotype of President Andrew Jackson taken in 1845. It lead me to wonder what is the earliest born photographed person. Andrew Jackson was born in 1767, but I am sure there are people born prior to this date who lived long enough to be photographed. Is there a definitive answer to this question?


From Wikipedia's reference desk (originally discussing moving images):

On the German wikipedia, we had a fascinating discussion about the earliest born person of whom a photograph exists. We managed to go back to a birth date of around 1746

Skimming the German discussion, it seems the winner there was Hannah Stilley Gorbey, an elderly American lady photographed circa 1840, born 1746. There is also this image of one Baltus Stone recorded as born 1747; not much information, but some more details here.

It's quite possible that someone else slightly older was photographed, but unlikely you'd get back before about 1740 - this would put them at over 100 when the first daguerrotypes were being made.

For moving images, the answer seems to be probably Pope Leo XIII (born 1810, filmed 1898), with the tantalizing suggestion that Vasily Goncharov's film 1812 (made 1912) contained two people aged over 110. This is possible, but seems very unlikely - people of this age have been recorded, but very rarely.


I'm not sure anyone knows for sure, but the prime contenders seem to be this landscape with a man getting a shoe shine in the background from 1838 and this self portrait of Robert Cornelius from 1839.


Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.