Title: Louis Le Prince Collection
Date: 26 Oct 1880-1 Apr 1900
Main language: English; French
Size and medium: certificate; manuscript papers; typescript paper; 23 leaves; 3 fragments; 21 folders; 1 box
Collection group(s): Leeds Philosophical and Literary Society
The collection comprises papers relating to Louis Le Prince and his invention of a camera which took the first moving pictures on paper film. The papers include technical drawings and notes made by Le Prince about cameras and lighting equipment.
There are also letters written by Le Prince and his chief mechanic, James William Longley, about his inventions. The collection includes letters written by Adolphe Le Prince, Louis' son. These and some of Longley's were composed after the inventor's death, when his family were attempting to establish their rights regarding his patents.
The papers have been deposited on the understanding that anybody wishing to make substantial use of them, or to publish substantial extracts, shall first seek permission from the Secretary of the Society: http://www.leedsphilandlit.org.uk/
Louis Aimé Augustin Le Prince (28 August 1841-vanished 16 September 1890) is known for using a single lens camera to shoot the first moving pictures on paper film. He was born in Metz, France, and he grew up spending time in the studio of his father’s friend Louis Daguerre, the inventor of the popular daguerreotypes. Le Prince received lessons in photography and chemistry from Daguerre before going on to study painting in Paris and chemistry in Leipzig. At the invitation of John Whitley, whom he met in Leipzig, Le Prince moved to Leeds in 1866, where he joined Whitley Partners of Hunslet, a firm of brass founders. In 1869 he married John’s sister, Elizabeth, who was herself a talented artist. The couple started the Leeds Technical School of Art two years later, and achieved great fame for their innovative techniques of fixing colour photography on to metal and pottery, so much so that their portraits of Queen Victoria and the Prime Minister Gladstone were included in the time capsule (manufactured by Whitley partners) which was place in the foundation of Cleopatra’s Needle on the Thames Embankment. Between 1881 and 1887 Le Prince and his family lived in America where he worked as an agent for Whitley Partners and as the manager of a group of French artists. While in the USA, Le Prince continued with the experiments in moving pictures that he had begun while he was in Leeds, and on his return in May 1887 his work had advanced to such an extent that he was able to patent a single-lens camera. This was first used on 14 October 1888 when he filmed the moving pictures now known as 'Roundhay Garden Scene', soon followed by ‘Leeds Bridge'. In 1890 Le Prince was preparing to return to the USA to promote his invention, but decided first to visit his friends and family in France. He disappeared from a train travelling from Dijon to Paris in September 1890. The mystery surrounding his disappearance has never been resolved.
While living in Leeds, Le Prince was a member of the Leeds Philosophical and Literary Society, founded in 1819 as a focus for the city’s scientific, literary and historical enquiry. The Society continues to flourish, and in July 2015 was pleased to accept the gift of Louis le Prince’s papers from his great-great-granddaughter, Laurie Snyder.
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Catalogues of archives are usually arranged in hierarchies - one hierarchy for each collection in the archive. The details on display will be of a record at a particular level of the hierarchy. There may be other records above, below, or alongside this record in the same hierarchy. You can see the full hierarchy under 'In this collection'.