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This photograph was taken early in the history of photography when exposure times for portraits were more than a minute long. That required the subject to sit very still, usually supported by various rigid trusses placed out of sight behind their body and head. In 1860 it was a popular to photograph dead people as a remembrance of their lives, and sometimes as in this photo, the dying person was photographed before they died. When I look at this woman, it makes me wonder what she might have witnessed? The rise of railroads becoming common, the Civil War, President Lincoln, but being so young, probably born about 1845, she would have possibly seen much more. I was born in 1935, and some of my relatives have lived well past one-hundred years; thus, if this woman had lived that long, she would have witnessed the end of World War Two and the beginning of the Atomic Age and jet airplanes. She seems to be looking into the distant future, but her distant future was blackness and she knew it.

1860 Photo portrait of a dying young woman

Photo of a dying girl, 1860, by Henry Peach Robinson

What amazing things lie ahead that we will never see?

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