The daguerreotype was the first successful photographic process in the history of photography and can be seen as the ‘Incunabula of Photography'. On January 7, 1839, the daguerreotype was presented at the Académie des Sciences in Paris. The daguerreotype is named after its inventor Louis-Jacques-Mandé Daguerre, was widely used in Europe and represents the first photographic images of Europe and its citizens. The base of the daguerreotype is a highly polished metal plate, consisting of a thin layer of silver on a copper support. A daguerreotype is created through direct exposure in the camera and delivers a unique image from which no further prints can be made.
There are still many aspects of the daguerreotype that need to be discovered to understand the impact of photography on Europe's social and cultural history. In order to do so all information on the surviving daguerreotypes needs to be collected, thus making identifying, attributing and gathering further knowledge on the remaining examples of this earliest form of photography possible. A first attempt was made by the Dutch initiative www.daguerreobase.org. This initiative covered only The Netherlands. Daguerreobase can however only function as an efficient cultural and informative tool for Europeana and its users when more daguerreotypes from a large number of European collections will be brought together. This is exactly the aim of the current Daguerreobase project proposal: to develop a common reflection and best practice in the collection and dissemination of information on daguerreotypes in European collections, thus creating a knowledge base designed by and for all of those interested in Europe's divers cultural heritage. Through a European-wide consortium and supported by workshops we want to enhance the functionality of the knowledge base, compile and aggregate existing digital content held by different cultural institutions from across Europe and make it accessible through Europeana.