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John William Draper

Born: 5-May-1811
Birthplace: Liverpool, Merseyside, England
Died: 4-Jan-1882
Location of death: Hastings-on-Hudson, NY
Cause of death: unspecified
Remains: Buried, Green-Wood Cemetery, Brooklyn, NY

Gender: Male
Religion: Agnostic
Race or Ethnicity: White
Sexual orientation: Straight
Occupation: Chemist, Photographer, Historian

Nationality: United States
Executive summary: Radiant energy and portrait photography

Doctor, chemist, historian, and professor John William Draper conducted landmark research into spectrum analysis and radiant light and heat, and showed that chlorine gas is altered by exposure to sunlight. He took the first detailed magnified photographs of the moon, and assisted Samuel F. B. Morse in his experiments with the telegraph. He may have been best known among the general public for his controversial History of the Conflict between Religion and Science, which was translated into at least nine languages and banned by the Catholic Church. He was the first President of the American Chemical Society, and a founder of the New York University School of Medicine. His son and granddaughter were the noted astronomers Henry Draper and Antonia Maury.

Draper also improved on the work of Louis Daguerre, inventor of photography, whose work had allowed slow exposures of landscapes. After repeated failures Draper accomplished the first recognizable photograph of a human face -- that of his sister, Dorothy Catherine Draper, taken in sunlight in 1839. The following year in New York City, using a camera made from a cigar box and an eyeglass lens, he opened the world's first photographic portrait studio, in partnership with Morse. Exposure as long as 90 seconds was required, so Draper instructed his students of photography (who included Mathew Brady) not to allow subjects to place their hands on their chests, as "the motion of respiration disturbs [the hands] so much as to make them have a thick, clumsy appearance."

Father: John Christopher Draper (Wesleyan minister)
Mother: Sarah Ripley Draper
Sister: Dorothy Catherine Draper Nye
Sister: Elizabeth Johnson Draper
Sister: Sarah Ripley Draper
Wife: Antonia Coetana de Paiva Pereira Gardner Draper (b. circa 1814, m. 13-Sep-1831)
Son: John Christopher Draper (physician-chemist, b. 1835, d. 1885)
Son: Henry Draper (astronomer-photographer, b. 1837, d. 1882)
Daughter: Virginia Draper Maury (b. 1839, d. 1885)
Son: Daniel Draper (meteorologist, b. 1841, d. 1931)
Son: William Draper (b. 1845, d. 1853)
Daughter: Antonia Draper Dixon (b. 1849, d. 1923)

    High School: Woodhouse Grove School, Leeds, England
    University: University College London
    Medical School: MD, University of Pennsylvania (1836)
    Teacher: Chemistry, Hampden-Sydney College (1836-37)
    Teacher: Chemistry, New York University (1837-38)
    Professor: Botany and Chemistry, New York University (1838-40)
    Professor: Medicine, New York University (1840-50)
    Professor: Chemistry, New York University (1840-81)
    Administrator: President, New York University (1850-73)

    Rumford Prize 1875
    American Chemical Society President (1876-77)
    American Philosophical Society
    Franklin Institute
    National Academy of Sciences 1870
    New York Academy of Medicine
    Naturalized US Citizen 1832
    English Ancestry

Author of books:
Treatise on the Forces which Produce the Organization of Plants (1844)
Textbook on Chemistry (1846)
Textbook on Natural Philosophy (1847)
Production of Light by Chemical Action (1848)
Human Physiology, Statical and Dynamical (1856)
History of the Intellectual Development of Europe (1862)
Thoughts on the Future Civil Policy of America (1865)
Textbook on Physiology (1866)
History of the American Civil War (1867, three volumes)
Researches in Actino-Chemistry (1872)
History of the Conflict between Religion and Science (1874)
Scientific Memoirs: Being Experimental Contributions to a Knowledge of Radiant Energy (1878, autobiography)


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