Waldack, Charles



Person (Male)

Alternative name or descriptor

  • Photographie Américaine

Standardized form(s) of name according to other rules


  • Professional


Life dates

Ghent, 1829 - Ghent, 1882


1874 * - 1877 / Gand, Quai des Moines, 8
Charles François Auguste, ° 5.9.1829; + 29.12.1882. School-mate of Désiré Van Monckhoven (see that name). After learning to daguerreotype, he emigrated to the United States, arriving in New York City on 18.5.1855. Ambrotypist, photographer and photographic chemist in Cincinnati [Ohio, USA] from 1857 to 1873, initially operating at 31½ West 3rd Street. There he published "Treatise of Photography on Collodion", 1857. Styled himself "Photograph Chimist" [sic], living at 22 Court Street, Cincinnati in April 1860. Applied for naturalisation in Cincinnati on 19.7.1862.
Waldack travelled to Europe with fellow photographer John Carbutt (1832 - 1905) in 1862, returning to his home town until 1863. During his absence, the studio in Cincinnati was taken over by his pupil and Belgian native Leon Van Loo (see that name), whose father had advanced Waldack funds to emigrate to the USA in gratitude for teaching his son photography. Waldack designed a portable darkroom in conjunction with Deltenre - Walker in 1863 (price: 80 francs), then returned to Cincinnati. He was located at 28 West 4th Street, Cincinnati, c. 1866-1868.
Waldack's most significant achievement was as a pioneering cave photographer. He undertook two expeditions to photograph interiors of the Mammoth Cave, Kentucky, the world's longest cave system, using magnesium, in the summer and autumn of 1866, the second trip lasting three months. The resulting high-definition images achieved wide circulation as a set of 42 stereo cards published by E. & H.T. Anthony of New York in 1867. In recognition of Waldack's groundbreaking campaign, Waldack's Dome in Mammoth Cave is named after him. Waldack was a contributor to the "Bulletin belge de photographie" from 1863 until 1871. Returning once more to Ghent via the White Star Line out of New York on 7.2.1874, he ran a portrait studio there for three years. Founder member of the ABP. Sailing on the ship "Nederland" out of Antwerp, he arrived in New York on 17.12.1877 in the company of his wife Mary née Tanner (° Harford County, Kentucky, 1849). They settled back in Cincinnati where Waldack was recorded as a studio photographer from 1878 to 1880, initially at 160 West 4th Street. He was succeeded by his wife (and then widow), operating as Mrs Chas. Waldack, from 1881 to 1893. Already seriously ill, Waldack returned to his native Ghent for the final few months of his life.


1874 * - 1877 / Gand, Quai des Moines, 8


Brussels, 1875.

Genres / subject matter



HOWES, Chris. To Photograph Darkness. The History of Underground and Flash Photography. Gloucester, Alan Sutton Publishing, 1989. Chapter 3, "Mammoth Cave", pp. 48-71.
HAVERSTOCK, Mary Sayne, et al (ed). Artists in Ohio, 1787-1900. A Biographical Dictionary. Kent, Ohio & London, The Kent State University Press, 2000, p. 900.



Affiliated entity

Association belge de Photographie

Type of affiliation

Member of

Dates of affiliation

1874 - 1877

Description of relationship


Record source



Level of detail

Dates of creation/revision

SFJ revised 25.5.2017, 28.7.2018, 17.2.2019 & 15.11.2019; SFJ revised 21.11.2019 based on information supplied by M. Demaeght




Maintenance notes