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Talking Points: Anna Atkins

This collection of videos and sources will help you explore the work of Anna Atkins.

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Anna Atkins

Anna Atkins was a botanist and photographer in the 1800s. She is considered as the first person to publish a book of photographs.

The process she used was called cyanotype. This used light exposure and a simple chemical process to create blueprints of botanical specimens. 

To read more about the invention of photographs explore this Google Arts and Culture resource.

Explore the images and sources below and use the questions to inspire classroom discussion.

Gilman Collection, Purchase, The Horace W. Goldsmith Foundation Gift, through Joyce and Robert Menschel, 2005

Schizonema Dillwynii by Anna Atkins, Gilman Collection, Purchase, The Horace W. Goldsmith Foundation Gift, through Joyce and Robert Menschel, 2005

Spiraea aruncus (Tyrol) by Anna Atkins Purchase, Alfred Stieglitz Society Gifts, 2004

Spiraea aruncus (Tyrol) by Anna Atkins, Purchase, Alfred Stieglitz Society Gifts, 2004

Questions to Ask Children

What do you like about these images? How are they different from photographs you see today?

Can you think of a plant/flower that would create an interesting cyanotype?

Can you draw the outline of an Oak leaf? What about a Holly leaf?

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