Collection: MS/DEP/2015: Louis Le Prince Collection

Archive Collection icon Archive Collection: Louis Le Prince Collection

Please note: This item may not be available for use. Please contact Special Collections before your visit. See the Access and usage section below for further details.

Details

Title: Louis Le Prince Collection

Level: Collection 

Classmark: MS/DEP/2015

Creator(s): Le Prince, Louis Aime Augustin (1841-); Le Prince, Elizabeth (1846-); Le Prince, Adolphe (1872-1901)

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

Persistent link: https://explore.library.leeds.ac.uk/special-collections-explore/439720 

Collection group(s): Leeds Philosophical and Literary Society

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Description

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/

Administrative or biographical history

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.

Provenance

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.

Access and usage

Please note: This item may not be available for use. Please contact Special Collections before your visit.

Access

This part of the collection is fully accessible and not subject to restrictions under the Data Protection Act.

This collection contains fragile material which may be unavailable on conservation grounds. Access is at the discretion of the Conservation Officer. Digital surrogates are linked to the catalogue records.

Reproduction

These 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/.

Contact the Leeds Philosophical and Literary Society for information on permissions and acknowledgement.

Material in this collection is in copyright. Photocopies or digital images can only be supplied by the Library for research or private study within the terms of copyright legislation. It is the responsibility of the researcher to obtain the copyright holder's permission to reproduce for any other purpose. Guidance is available on tracing copyright status and ownership.

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Related subjects

WARNING: many of our records have not been classified by subject. So if you search our catalogue by subject using the links below then you are unlikely to find all relevant records. But you will find some...

Film making

Inventors

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Collection hierarchy 

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