In 1839, the invention of daguerreotype made it possible to capture and preserve a photographic image. The public was thrilled with the opportunity to be recorded for posterity, and the business of professional photography blossomed.
Memphis quickly embraced this new technology. Newspaper ads in the mid-1840s promoted itinerant daguerreotypists, but the earliest known advertisement for a permanent photo studio appeared in 1843 in the periodical American Eagle.
The ad stated:
The proprietor of Merriman and Clark, Watch Makers, informs the public that he is prepared to take Photographic Miniatures in the best style. Those who wish an exact counterfeit presentment of themselves, for father, mother, lover, or friend, are invited to call and examine his specimens and witness the operations at his rooms over the Memphis Clothing Store, south side of Exchange Square. By this wonderful operation, persons from the country can obtain an exact likeness without loss of time, it requiring less than one minute of the sitter’s time -- And, in all cases, the likeness is warranted.
You can see images of many people who settled in West Tennessee during the 1800s in the “Faces of the 19th Century” in the History of Memphis exhibit at the Pink Palace.