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Louis Braille Where Can I Find a Picture of Louis Braille?

We hear this question a lot—why are there no photographs of Louis Braille on the Braille Bug site?

We looked long and hard for a photograph of Louis Braille. But he died in 1852, and at that time photography had been around for only 13 years. It was still a relatively difficult and rare process.

Also, Louis Braille's code for reading wasn't adopted by the school where he taught until eight years before he died. France didn't officially adopt Braille's system until two years after he died. It wasn't until 1890 that the code was adopted in Austria, Belgium, Denmark, England, Germany, Spain, and Scotland—and it took even longer to reach the United States. Louis Braille really became more famous after his death!

Maybe people didn't think of taking a photo of him while he was alive because they didn't know how famous he would later become. But someone did think to take an old type of "photo" called a daguerreotype shortly after his death. Here is a portrait of Louis Braille that was based on the daguerreotype. You can see this image, as well as others, in a new biography from National Braille Press entitled Louis Braille: A Touch of Genius. As the author notes, "This is the visage of a dead man; in life, he kept his eyes open."

The only other image we have of Louis Braille is a sculpted bust, which can be found at the school in Paris where he taught, the Royal Institution for Blind Youth.

It's hard to remember in these days of digital cameras and instant pictures how young photography actually is. Sculpture has been around for thousands of years—photography for only 165 years!

- The Braille Bug

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