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Tis a thing of beauty: The first #selfie ever taken

behold first selfie ever taken mirror
Image used with permission by copyright holder
There are many things that indicate we’re living in an age of unforeseen self-awareness, and one of them is the selfie. No longer just an Instagram trend, the selfie is a bona fide cultural movement that has even cemented itself with a nod from the English language.

So where exactly did this photography phenomenon come from? Nay, it is not a product of the Kardashians’ narcissism, nor the making of some young tween’s duck face. This, in fact, is the first selfie the world doth ever known.

first selfie
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Actually – technically – this is the first recorded use of the selfie hashtag on Instagram with the appropriate face-flaunting photo, taken and posted in 2011:

I  my new Anthro sweater

A post shared by Jennifer Lee (@jennlee) on

And before that, it was used on the Internet in 2002.

However, the first photo, from 1839, was the first time someone took a photo of themselves (that we have proof of). According to The Public Domain Review, amateur chemist Robert Cornelius posed for the first “selfie” in history. “Cornelius had set his camera up at the back of the family store in Philadelphia. He took the image by removing the lens cap and then running into frame where he sat for a minute before covering up the lens again. On the back he wrote ‘The first light picture ever taken. 1839.'”

It all proves that documenting self-involvement is a trend as old as time.

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Molly McHugh
Former Digital Trends Contributor
Before coming to Digital Trends, Molly worked as a freelance writer, occasional photographer, and general technical lackey…
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