QFF 2023-03-19
Posted on Mar 10th, 2023

         Quick Fact Friday
Women’s History Month: Anna Atkins
Anna Children was born in Tonbridge, Kent in 1799 to John George Children, secretary of the famous scientific organization the Royal Society. As a young adult, Anna would do illustrations for her father’s work on shells. She married John Pelly Atkins in 1825 and later learned about the newly invented photographic process from her father’s colleagues at the Royal Academy.
Cyanotype photography was invented by an acquaintance of hers, Sir John Herschel, in 1942, and the bright indigo-colored images were used primarily for architectural and engineering “blueprints.” Atkins saw the technique’s potential in scientific work and used cyanotyping to record all the species of algae in the British Isles. Her work British Algae: Cyanotype Impressions was published in thirteen volumes from 1843 to 1850. This represents one of the earliest uses of photography to record and disseminate scientific specimens and revolutionized the way botanical and other biological work was published.
Atkins is not known to have lived or visited Mount Pleasant specifically or South Carolina in general, at least during her lifetime. But in spirit she will be visiting the St. Andrews Library in West Ashley on March 25th as part of the Charleston County Public Library’s Women’s History Month series of events. Participants can make their own cyanotype print and learn more about Anna Atkins's life and scientific accomplishments.

For more information: Encyclopedia Britannica, CCPL
Image Credit: Polysiphonia fastigata, Wikimedia Commons
The Town of Mount Pleasant Historical Commission releases Quick Fact Fridays about the history of Mount Pleasant and about the Commission, its programs and activities. Historical facts are drawn largely from the Our History section of the Town's website and the Commission's own Mount Pleasant Historical website and app. Follow their links by clicking on the images below to discover what makes Mount Pleasant such a distinctive historical place! To receive Quick Fact Friday messages click here to subscribe. Email us at if you're interested in learning more about a particular Mount Pleasant history topic!
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