Zealy, Joseph (Thomas)
- Molly Rogers
(b Beaufort County, SC, Oct 8, 1814; d Social Circle, GA, Dec 13, 1892).
American daguerreotypist. He specialized in studio portraits but is now known for his images of enslaved men and women intended to support an early theory of race formation. He became an itinerant daguerreotypist in the early 1840s and in 1846, at the request of local citizens, opened a photographic portrait studio in Columbia, SC, the first establishment of its kind in that city. The success of his business as a portrait photographer is apparent from period advertisements, in which he touts the latest techniques and materials, and from the regular appearance of his name in the editorials of photographic trade journals. His customers considered him to be ‘the best artist in the up country’ (Louis Foster Perrin to his sister, 16 Oct 1856, James Rion McKissick Collection, South Caroliniana Library, University of South Carolina). Success enabled him to become a respectable member of his community, joining the Freemasons and owning slaves....