Albert S. Southworth was born in 1811 in West Farliegh Vermont. He attended Phillips Academy in Andover and established himself in the pharmacy trade in Cabotville, now Chicopee, Massachusetts. He learned of the daguerreotype at the age of twenty-eight in 1839 through a former classmate, Joseph Pennell, who invited him to New York to learn the process from Samuel F.B. Morse. By May of 1840 he had entered into partnership with Pennel and reported,”I can now make perfect pictures in one hours time…that would take a painter weeks to draw”.
Through vigorous experimentation, he and Pennel worked to perfect the daguerreotype process for portraiture. In the spring of 1841 they moved from Cabotville to establish a studio in Boston in Scollay Square with intentions of becoming society portraitists. Success led Southworth to move into larger loft rooms in the nearby, newly built Tremont Row in 1843. Pennel left the partnership at that time and was replaced by Josiah Hawes. They worked together in the rooms at 5-1/2 Tremont Row for twenty years, with the exception of two years from 1849 to 51, during which Southworth participated in the California Gold Rush.
Southworth left the partnership in 1863 and became a specialist in graphology employing photography in forensics. He remained an active figure in the photographic community and gave a number of talks in the 1870s at the National Photographic Association. He died in 1894.