Photos - Fotos: Frances Benjamin Johnston (1864 – 1952) - Part 1 - Data (English-espanol) - Links

Posted by Ricardo Marcenaro | Posted in | Posted on 10:55

Signing of the peace protocol of the Spanish-American War - left to right: Benjamin Montgomery, Jules Cambon, Thiebout, William R. Day, J. More, Alvey A. Adee, William McKinely, George Cortelyou, Thomas Cridler and Charles Boeffled?. Additional reference: The Evening Bulletin, 1898-08-29
12 August 1898

Auburn, Natchez, Adams County, Mississippi. A spiral staircase in a house [b]uilt by Dr. Stephen Duncan[,] remarkable for spiral stair, vaulted hall-way and triple-hung windows. Fine example of antebellum home with kitchen courtyard, coach house and billiard hall. The antebellum mansion is now a national historic landmark.

Gardette-LaPrete House, formerly known as the House of the Turk, Dauphine Street, New Orleans. Photograph shows ironwork surrounding the galleries of buildings at the corner of Dauphine and Orleans streets in the French Quarter of New Orleans, Louisiana,.
1937 nebo 1938

Facade of Cooleemee Plantation — Davie County, North Carolina.

    Home of one branch of the Hairston family, originally of Virginia.
    1938 image from the Carnegie Survey of the Architecture of the South, Library of Congress, Washington, D. C.


Hand-tinted photograph of Alice Roosevelt, taken 1903. A striking beauty, her outspokenness and antics won the hearts of the America people who nicknamed her "Princess Alice" Source Library of Congress/ LC-USZC4-6245, Public Domain

View of serpentine walls, University of Virginia, Charlottesville, Albemarle County, Virginia. Black and white photograph by the American photographer Frances Benjamin Johnston. 8 in. x 10 in. Photograph forms part of the Carnegie Survey of the Architecture of the South, Library of Congress. Photographer Johnston bequeathed her photographic archives to the Library of Congress in perpetuity. There are no restrictions on publication. Image courtesy of the Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.
Library of Congress Digital Collection [1]

Frances Benjamin Johnston, American 1864-1952 [Female students playing basketball, Western High School, Washington, D.C. ] from Western High School album ca. 1899 Library of Congress Prints and Photographs

Students Boarding Trolley In 1899, Johnston was commissioned to photograph Washington, D.C. public schools to showcase American “new education” at the Universal Exposition to be held in Paris in 1900. Johnston spent six intensive weeks working with the principals of elementary and high schools throughout the District, schools then considered among the “best in the country” (Curtis, Ambassadors of Progress, 31). Using this photo, Daniel and Smock extracted a smaller image as an example of Benjamin’s “genius for detail,” noting her use of “trolley windows to frame a series of miniature portraits” (Daniel and Smock, 89). [LOC: LC-USZ62-14680]

A Class in American History Laura Wexler described this image as a “virtual maelstrom of conflicting currents” (Wexler, Tender Violence, 167). A portion of the Hampton student body was composed of American Indians (Daniel and Smock, 98). [LOC LC-USZ62-86982]

Hampton School Graduate Home To show the contrast in the lives of Southern blacks as a before and after sequence, Johnston traveled around the Virginia countryside and photographed poor black families and their surroundings and later juxtaposed some of these studies with the relatively prosperous Hampton graduates. The message was clear: “Upward mobility and prosperity depended on industrial education and Christian piety of the Hampton style.” (Daniel and Smock, 101) [LOC: LC-USZ62-38150]

“The Old Folks at Home” One of the photos of African Americans as juxtaposed by Johnston with other photographs of Hampton graduates. [LOC: LC-USZ62-81152]

Rural Virginia This photo was part of Johnston’s study of black life in rural Virginia. Though not a part of her Hampton series, like some of the images in that study, these photos “stand on their own as a fine study of the countryside’s fecundity—melons, hogs, syrup, and wash pots and proud but poor black families” (Daniel and Smock, 102). [LOC: LC-J698-61158]

Carlisle Indian School, 1900 Students debating “the Negro question.” “Resolved: That the Negroes of the South should not be denied the right [of] citizenship.” After completing photos of the Hampton Institute and Washington, D.C. schools, Johnston journeyed to the Carlisle Indian School in Pennsylvania. Carlisle’s founder, Richard Henry Pratt, visited Hampton in 1878 and was inspired to start a similar school for the American Indians a year later. (Daniel and Smock, 113) [LOC: USZ62-38150]

Sioux Indian chiefs with William Jennings Bryan at the Pan American Exposition in 1901 Left to right: F. T. Cummings, General Manager of the Exposition; High Hawk; Jack Red Cloud; Blue Horse; Little Wound; William Jennings Bryan. In 1892, Johnston photographed the construction of the Columbian Exposition in Chicago and then returned in 1893 after the Expo opened. She was an active participant in the Universal Exposition in Paris during the summer of 1900. [LOC: LC-J71-10005]

Again dressed as a man Frances is in the middle on the right

Frances "Fannie" Benjamin Johnston (15 January 1864 – 16 May 1952) was one of the earliest American female photographers and photojournalists.


The only surviving child of wealthy and well connected parents, she was born in Grafton, West Virginia,[1] raised in Washington, D.C., and studied at the Académie Julian in Paris and the Washington Students League following her graduation from Notre Dame of Maryland Collegiate Institute for Young Ladies in 1883 (now known as Notre Dame of Maryland University).[2] An independent and strong-willed young woman, she wrote articles for periodicals before finding her creative outlet through photography after she was given her first camera by George Eastman, a close friend of the family, and inventor of the new, lighter, Eastman Kodak cameras. She received training in photography and dark-room techniques from Thomas Smillie, director of photography at the Smithsonian.
She took portraits of friends, family and local figures before working as a freelance photographer and touring Europe in the 1890s, using her connection to Smillie to visit prominent photographers and gather items for the museum's collections. She gained further practical experience in her craft by working for the newly formed Eastman Kodak company in Washington, D.C., forwarding film for development and advising customers when cameras needed repairs. In 1894 she opened her own photographic studio in Washington, D.C., on V Street between 13th and 14th Streets,[3] and at the time was the only woman photographer in the city.[1] She took portraits of many famous contemporaries including Susan B. Anthony, Mark Twain and Booker T. Washington. Well connected among elite society, she was commissioned by magazines to do "celebrity" portraits, such as Alice Roosvelt's wedding portrait,[4] and was dubbed the "Photographer to the American court."[5] She photographed Admiral Dewey on the deck of the USS Olympia,[6] the Roosevelt children playing with their pet pony at the White House and the gardens of Edith Wharton's famous villa near Paris.

Her mother, Frances Antoinette Johnston, had been a congressional journalist and dramatic critic for the Baltimore Sun[7] and her daughter built on her familiarity with the Washington political scene by becoming official White House photographer for the Harrison, Cleveland, McKinley,[8] "TR" Roosevelt, and Taft presidential administrations.

Johnston also photographed the famous American heiress and literary salon socialite Natalie Barney in Paris but perhaps her most famous work, shown opposite, is her self-portrait of the liberated "New Woman", petticoats showing and beer stein in hand. Johnston was a constant advocate for the role of women in the burgeoning art of photography. The Ladies' Home Journal published Johnston's article "What a Woman Can Do With a Camera" in 1897[9] and she co-curated (with Zaida Ben-Yusuf) an exhibition of photographs by twenty-eight women photographers at the 1900 Exposition Universelle, which afterwards travelled to Saint Petersburg, Moscow, and Washington, DC.[10] She traveled widely in her thirties, taking a wide range of documentary and artistic photographs of coal miners, iron workers, women in New England's mills and sailors being tattooed on board ship as well as her society commissions. While in England she photographed the stage actress Mary Anderson, who was a friend of her mother.[7]

In 1899, she gained further notability when she was commissioned by Hollis Burke Frissell to photograph the buildings and students of the Hampton Normal and Agricultural Institute in Hampton, Virginia in order to show its success.[11] This series, documenting the ordinary life of the school, remains as some of her most telling work. It was displayed at the Exposé nègre of the Paris Exposition Universelle in 1900.[12]

She photographed events such as world's fairs and peace-treaty signings[13] and took the last portrait of President William McKinley, at the Pan-American Exposition of 1901 just before his assassination.[8] With her partner, Mattie Edwards Hewitt, a successful freelance home and garden photographer in her own right, she opened a studio in New York in 1913 and moved in with her mother and aunt.[14] She lectured at New York University on business for women[15] and they produced a series of studies of New York architecture through the 1920s. In early 1920 her mother passed away in New York.[16]

In the 1920s she became increasingly interested in photographing architecture, motivated by a desire to document buildings and gardens which were falling into disrepair or about to be redeveloped and lost. Her photographs remain an important resource for modern architects, historians and conservationists. She exhibited a series of 247 photographs of Fredericksburg, Virginia, from the decaying mansions of the rich to the shacks of the poor, in 1928. The exhibition was entitled Pictorial Survey--Old Fredericksburg, Virginia--Old Falmouth and Nearby Places and described as "A Series of Photographic Studies of the Architecture of the Region Dating by Tradition from Colonial Times to Circa 1830" as "An Historical Record and to Preserve Something of the Atmosphere of An Old Virginia Town."

Publicity from the display prompted the University of Virginia to hire her to document its buildings and the state of North Carolina to record its architectural history. Louisiana hired Johnston to document its huge inventory of rapidly deteriorating plantations and she was given a grant in 1933 by the Carnegie Corporation of New York to document Virginia's early architecture. This led to a series of grants and photographs of eight other southern states, all of which were given to the Library of Congress for public use. Johnston was named an honorary member of the American Institute of Architects for her work in preserving old and endangered buildings and her collections have been purchased by institutions such as the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts and the Baltimore Museum of Art. Although her relentless traveling was curtailed by petrol rationing in the Second World War the tireless Johnston continued to photograph. Johnston acquired a home in the French Quarter of New Orleans in 1940, retiring there in 1945, where she died in 1952 at the age of eighty-eight.[17][18]

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Camera thought to be owned by renowned photographer Frances Benjamin Johnston

FBJ and Mrs. Gertrude Käsebier, famous photographer, on patio of a Venetian hotel - 1905

Frances Fannie Benjamin Johnston (15 de enero de 1864 – 16 de mayo de 1952) fue una de las mujeres pioneras en fotografía y fotoperiodismo estadounidense.


Única hija superviviente de un acaudalado y bien relacionado matrimonio, nació en Grafton, West Virginia,creció en Washington D.C., y estudió en la "académie Julian" en París y en la Liga de estudiantes de Washington. De joven, independiente y obstinada, escribía artículos para publicaciones periódicas antes de encontrar salida a su creatividad por medio de la fotografía después de que le regalase su primera cámara George Eastman, un buen amigo de la familia,e inventor de la nueva y más ligera cámara Kodak. Recibió formación en fotografía y en técnicas de laboratorio de mano de Thomas Smillie, director de fotografía del Smithsonian.

Tomó Retratos de amigos, familiares y celebridades locales, antes de trabajar por cuenta propia como fotógrafa, recorriendo Europa en la década de 1890 y gracias a la recomendación de Smillie visitando a los eminentes fotógrafos europeos y reuniendo objetos para las colecciones del Smithsonian.Ganó aún más experiencia profesional trabajando en la recién creada Compañía Kodak en Washington D.C.. en el desarrollo y mejora de nuevo material fotosensible y asesorando a los clientes cuyas cámaras necesitaban reparaciones. Abrió su propio estudio fotográfico en Washington D.C. en 1895, retratando a personalidades contemporáneas, entre ellos Susan B. Anthony, Mark Twain y Booker T. Washington. Bien relacionada entre la élite de la sociedad,se puso al servicio de las revistas para hacer retratos a las celebridades y fue apodada "fotógrafa de la corte americana". Fotografió a George Dewey en la cubierta del USS Olympia, a los hijos de Roosevelt jugando con su pony en la Casa Blanca y los jardines de la villa parisina de Edith Wharton.

Su madre, Frances Antoinette Johnston, había sido periodista del congreso para el periódico Baltimore Sun y su hija continuó la ya relación familiar con la escena política de Washington llegando a ser la fotógrafa oficial de la Casa Blanca para las addministraciones Harrison, Cleveland, McKinley, "TR" Roosevelt y Taft.

Johnston también fotografió a la famosa literata de origen americano Natalie Barney en París pero quizás, su obra más famosa es su autorretrato satírico de la "nueva mujer liberada" (modelo al que se oponía), enseñando las enaguas y jarra de cerveza en mano. Johnston fue una constante defensora del papel de la mujer en el emergente arte de la fotografía. El "Ladies Home Journal" publicó su artículo "qué puede hacer una mujer con una cámara" en 1897 y junto a Zaida Ben-Yusuf comisionó una exposición de fotografía en la que participaron veinte mujeres en la exposición universal de 1900, y posteriormente fue expuesta en San Petersburgo, Moscú y Washington D.C..

En 1899 recibe el encargo por parte de Hollis Burke Frissell para fotografiar el instituto normal y de agricultura en Hampton, Virgina, con el fin de mostrar el exito de dicha institución. Esta serie, documentando lo cotidiano de la escuela, se considera parte de su obra más elocuente. Se mostró en la "Negré Expose" de París en la Exposición universal de 1900.

Fotografió eventos tales como las exposiciones universales y firmas de tratados de paz, así como el último retrato del presidente William McKinley, en la exposición panamericana de 1901, justo antes de su asesinato. Con su pareja, Mattie Edwards Hewitt, una importante fotógrafa de interiores y exteriores con bien merecido mérito, abrió un estudio en Nueva York en 1913. Produjeron diversas series fotográficas de la arquitectura neoyorquina durante los años 1920.

En esta década es cuando se incrementa su interés en la fotografía arquitectónica, motivada por su deseo de documentar edificios y jardines que sufrían abandono o a punto de ser remodelados y perdidos. Sus fotografías resultan una importante fuente para los arquitectos modernos, historiadores y conservadores. Exhibió en 1928 una serie de 247 fotografías de Fredericksburg, Virgina,sobre las decadencia de las mansiones de los ricos en chozas para pobres. La exposición se tituló "Estudio de láminas - Fredericksburg antiguo, Virginia - Falmouth Antiguo y lugares cercanos" y fue descrita como " una serie de estudios fotográficos de la arquitectura de la región datada entre el periodo colonial hasta 1830" y como "un registro histórico y para preservar algo de la atmósfera de un pueblo de Virginia."

La popularidad de la muestra promovió que la contratase la Universidad de Virginia para la documentación de sus edificios y el estado de Carolina del Norte para registrar su historia arquitectónica. Louisiana la contrató para documentar su gran inventario de plantaciones en deterioro y le fue concedida una subvención por parte de la "Carnagie Corporation" para documentar las primeras muestras de arquitectura de Virginia. Esto condujo a una serie de subvenciones para fotografiar otros ocho estados del sur, y cuyo resultado fue donado a la biblioteca del congreso para su uso público. Johnston fue nombrada miembro honorario del instituto americano de arquitectos por su esfuerzo en preservar edificios antiguos y en peligro y sus colecciones han sido adquiridos por instituciones como el Museo Metropolitano de Arte, el Museo de Bellas Artes de Virginia y el Museo de Arte de Baltimore. A pesar de que fue una implacable viajera sus viajes disminuyeron durante la segunda guerra mundial como causa del racionamiento de la gasolina durante la segunda guera mundial. Incansable, continuó fotografiando hasta su muerte, a los ochenta y ocho años, en Nueva Orleans.

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Poster created by Mills Thompson for Johnston, 1895 Mills Thompson was part of Benjamin’s circle of friends in the mid-1890s before he left for New York. [LOC LC-J713-8769]

Photos - Fotos: Frances Benjamin Johnston (1864 – 1952) - Part 1 - Data (English-espanol) - Links

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