Born in Philadelphia in 1811 and raised in the "City of Brotherly Love", Paul Beck Goddard graduated from the University of Pennsylvania in 1832 with a degree in medicine. He quickly secured the position of assistant to the university's chemistry professor Dr. Robert Hare. In the autumn of 1839, the scientific community was abuzz with reports of the recent invention of the daguerreotype. By December of that year, Dr. Goddard, along with a sheet metal employee and budding photographer named Robert Cornelius, began experimenting with improving its chemical processes. Dr. Goddard's initial experiments were with chlorine, bromine, and iodine. However, he soon learned that plate action could be accelerated significantly by combining bromine with iodine on the plate, which Mr. Cornelius realized substantially increased the commercial value of Louis Jacques-Mande Daguerre's brainchild. Dr. Goddard succeeded in producing the world's first instantaneous views in the open air. The pair elected to keep their discovery secret and began purchasing bromine in mass quantities to produce portraits. This may be why London optician John Goddard is often inaccurately credited with the introduction of bromine to hasten daguerreotype processing. However, according to renowned daguerreotypist Marcus Aurelius Root, the record of bromine's value as an accelerant was recorded in the 1840 Journal of the American Philosophical Society and its discovery was attributed to Dr. Paul Beck Goddard. Julius F. Sachse, editor of the American Journal of Photography, concurred, stating categorically, "The honor for the first use of bromine as a sure and valuable accelerator, and the subsequent application to Daguerreotype and photography, without a shadow of doubt belongs to Dr. Paul Beck Goddard, of Philadelphia."
However, the daguerreotype-making partnership of Dr. Goddard and Mr. Cornelius ceased within three years for reasons unknown, and the chemist began concentrating solely upon practicing medicine and scientific research. He had been appointed demonstrator for anatomy at the University of Pennsylvania in 1841, a position in which he continued until his resignation six years' later to accept the anatomy chairmanship at Franklin Medical College. Also during this time, Dr. Goddard received an important appointment as Surgeon to the First City Troop, Philadellphia's foremost military organizaton. He became a very active member of the Philadelphia medical community, and served on the Philadelphia Board of Health from 1859 to 1863. He was named Surgeon of the U.S. Volunteer Service in 1859, a position he held until 1865. After a brief illness, fifty-six-year-old Paul Beck Goddard died on July 5, 1866.
1892 American Journal of Photography, Vol. XIII (Philadelphia: Thomas H. McCollin & Company), pp. 356, 358.
1864 The Camera and the Pencil (Philadelphia: M. A. Root), p. 352.
1991 The Daguerreotype: Nineteenth-Century Technology and Modern Science (Washington, DC: Smithsonian Institution Press), pp. 33-34, 37.
1913 Wilson's Photographic Magazine, Vol. L (New York: Edward L. Wilson Company, Inc.), pp. 539-540.
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