Photographers: Thomas Annan (Scotland, 1829-75)

Figure 1.-- This Glasgow slum photograph taken by Thomas Annan was titled ' Old Vennel off High Street, 1868". Vennel means side stree ometimes trransated as alley. American history textbooks commonly show images of Americamn sklums where immigrants lived. Rarely do they show images of conditiins in the countries where the immigrants came from for comparative purposes.

Thomas Annan was born in Born in Dairsie, Fife. Fife is the Scottish country north of Edinburg across the Fifth of Fourth. He was one of the seven children of John Annan, a flax spinner meaning a very low-income family. It was an occupation that the Indutrial Revolution was destroying. He is important as one of Scotland's earliest photographers. We know nothing Thomas apprenticed as a lithographic writer and engraver at the Fife Herald newspaper in Cupar. He moved to Glasgow and worked as a lithographer and engraver for Joseph Swan (1849). He then joined with George Berwick to set up a calotype studio (1855). Calotype also called talbotype was an early photographic process developed by William Henry Fox Talbot, using paper coated with silver iodide. It did not prove as suceesful as the Daguerreotype and Ambrotype. One of the few surviving early photographs was the ship RMS Persia being buokt on the Clyde. It was probably ordered by by engineer, Robert Napier (1855). He went of business for himself (1857) and moved (1859). He expanded byopening a printing works in Hamilton (1863). Annan was initially especially interested in architectural photography and then shidted to portraits. He also photographed artworks and maps. His most important project was photographing slum areas of Glasgow, a major industrial city). He began taking pgotographs in the lums (1866). We are not sure Annan realized how important this was, but today they are the primary photographic legasy he has left. He was the first Scottish photographr to record the poor housing conditions of the poor. Our intert is images of children. We have not found many portraits of children he produced, but there are some children in the slum images. Hus slum photographs were used by Glasgow City Improvement Trust to document the overcrowded, unhygienic conditions. This heped in the novement for redevelopments. Most of these photograph were a series entitled 'Old Closes and Streets of Glasgow' (1868-71).


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Created: 6:08 AM 11/9/2019
Last updated: 8:22 PM 11/9/2019