Tanah Abang House, 1866
Walter Bentley Woodbury was born in Manchester, England, in 1834 and was raised by his maternal grandfather. In 1857, still in his early twenties, Woodbury traveled to Java where he founded a busy photographic firm with James Page, and between them, they took the majority of the known photographs of Batavia (present day Jakarta) from the latter part of the 19th century. The two men, accompanied by Walter's brother, Henry James Woodbury, traveled extensively through Central and Eastern Java in 1860, relatively soon after which the photographers went their separate ways. Woodbury remained in Batavia.
In 1863, Woodbury and Page offered a list of sixteen topographical photographs of the city for sale in albumen format. These images are considered the first of their sort from Batavia, which was originally established in 1619 as a colonial supply station for the VOC (Vereenigde Oost-Indische Compagnie), or the Dutch East Indies Trading Company. Prospering during the 17th and 18th centuries as part of the spice trade, Batavia was a regional center for commerce and colonial administration, but particularly after a wall was erected around the city for security, it gained a reputation as "the Graveyard of Europeans," due to the poor sanitation and the stagnation of the canal system.
Although Woodbury worked initially with the wet-plate collodion negatives and albumen positive prints, he was an avid experimenter in photography, trying his hand at photoceramics, stereoscopic photography, stereoscopic projection, balloon photography, and electromagnetic shutters. He is perhaps most widely known for the photomechanical process he developed in 1866, the Woodburytype. Woodbury died in England in 1885.
From the guide to the Walter B. Woodbury Photograph Collection PH 3., 1865-1866, (Special Collections and University Archives, University of Massachusetts Amherst Libraries)