Thomas Edison, inventor of the electric light bulb, phonograph and motion picture camera.

By Amy Walters


UNEARTHED portraits of historical figures who have changed the way we live today, including Thomas Edison and Anna Elizabeth Dickinson have been colourised for the first time.

In one image, Thomas Edison – the inventor of the electric light bulb, phonograph, and motion picture camera – was sat posing next to one of his inventions, as photographer Mathew Brady captured the essence of this historical inventor who changed life as we know it today.

Another image showed Thomas Dilward – otherwise known as Japanese Tommy – who was an African American minstrel performer. Dilward is one of the only two known African-Americans to have performed with white-owned minstrel companies before the American Civil War.

Actress, Agnes Perry, who was an in-law to John Wilkes Booth, the assassin of Abraham Lincoln.

Due to Dilward only standing at 23-inches tall, the actor was a ‘curious attraction’ which allowed him to take the stage at a time when there was a clear segregation between white and black entertainment figures.

Others showed Anna Elizabeth Dickinson, who was known for being an advocate for the abolition of slavery and for women’s rights, as well as George Frederick Samuel Robinson, Earl de Grey, who was a member of British Parliament between 1892-1895.

Robinson was born in No. 10 Downing Street due to his father, Viscount Goderich, being the British Prime Minister at the time.

Thomas Dilward – otherwise known as Japanese Tommy – an entertainer who was one of the only two African-American entertainers during the time of the Civil War, who performed with a white-owned company.

These spectacular portraits date between 1850 and 1900, thus giving an insight into the historical figures who have changed the way we live today.

In the mid-nineteenth century, Mathew Brady operated one of the most prominent portrait studios in New York City and Washington D.C, USA.

Due to the studio’s high-profile status, Brady attracted countless celebrities and historical figures, who wanted to have their photograph taken by him and showcased in his gallery.