Johnston, Frances Benjamin, 1864-1952

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Portrait photographer, photojournalist, architectural photographer, and illustrator.

From the description of Frances Benjamin Johnston papers, 1855-1956 (bulk 1890-1945). (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 71174615

Frances Benjamin Johnston (1864-1952) was a trained artist who turned her talents to photography and became one of the first prominent female photojournalists in the United States. After studying art at the Academie Julian in Paris, France and at the Art Students' League in Washington, D.C., Johnston took up an interest in journalism and began doing illustrations for newspapers in 1885. She eventually turned to photography because she thought it was the more accurate machine and studied under Thomas William Smillie, head of the Division of Photography at the Smithsonian Institution. During her long and successful career, Johnston took tens of thousands of photographs of scenes and events all over the United States with an emphasis on Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, and Louisiana.

From the description of Frances Benjamin Johnston collection, 1935-1936. (Oceanside Free Library). WorldCat record id: 42910857

Biography

Frances Benjamin Johnston (1864-1952) was a photographer whose prodigious career spanned six decades and whose lens captured a vast array of topics. A woman of immense drive and energy, she is most commonly referred to as the first female photojournalist. However, she was also a charter member of the Photo-Secession, exhibiting her pictorialist work in a wide variety of salons and shows; she was a businesswoman who operated her own Washington, DC portrait studio and later, in New York City, a studio devoted to architectural photography; she was the recipient of awards and accolades and served as a mentor -particularly through her published essays and private correspondence -to countless women who aspired to her profession; and she was a peripatetic soul whose travels in the United States and abroad resulted in a tremendous body of work concentrating primarily on architecture and gardens (the fruit of her later years). The Frances B. Johnston Collection has as its focus the portrait work of Johnston's earlier Washington years.

From the guide to the Frances Benjamin Johnston Collection, 1895-1906, (The Huntington Library)

Frances Benjamin Johnston was born 15 January 1864 in Rochester, New York. Her family later moved to Washington, District of Columbia. In 1882, at the age of 18, she attended Notre Dame Convent in Govanston, Maryland. The following year Johnston departed for Paris, France, to study studied art at the Académie Julian. After her return from Paris in 1885, Johnston enrolled in the Art Students' League in Washington.

Johnston's interest in art shifted to journalism, her mother's occupation, and she began to make illustrations for newspapers. She eventually turned to photography because she thought it was the more accurate machine and studied under Thomas William Smillie, head of the Division of Photography at the Smithsonian Institution. Johnston worked on many important projects during her storied career, including the Carnegie Survey of the Architecture of the South between 1933 and 1940. The survey was a systematic record of the early buildings and gardens in Maryland, Virgina, the Carolinas, Georgia, Alabama, Louisiana, Florida, and Mississippi.

Johnston's original negatives for the project are at the Library of Congress, which has become the principal repository of her writings and photographs. The Frances Benjamin Johnston Collection at the Library of Congress includes approximately 20,000 photographs and 3,700 glass and film negatives. Images in the collection span the period 1864-1940, but the majority date between 1897 and 1927. In 1936, the American Council of Learned Societies paid Johnston $3,500 to photograph early North Carolina architecture.

She had three mentors for the project: from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Albert Ray Newsome, North Carolina historian and former history department chair and Howard Odum, sociologist of the American South, professor, and founder of the Sociology Department, the School of Public Welfare, the Department of City and Regional Planning, and the Institute for Research in Social Science; and from Duke University, William Boyd, history professor and first Director of the Libraries.

Frances Benjamin Johnston died in 1952. Source: The Woman Behind the Lens: the Life and Work of Frances Benjamin Johnston, 1864-1952, by Bettina Berch. Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia, 2000.

From the guide to the Frances Benjamin Johnston Collection, 1935-1938, (University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Library. North Carolina Collection.)

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
creatorOf Frances Benjamin Johnston Collection, 1895-1906 The Huntington Library
referencedIn History of photography collection, 1840-1986 (inclusive). Harvard University Art Museum
creatorOf Caffin, Charles Henry, 1854-1918. Charles Henry Caffin papers, ca. 1883-1973. Smithsonian Archives of American Art
creatorOf Division of Nutritional Sciences,. Division of Nutritional Sciences collection of photographs and biographies of scientists, 1716-1984. Campbell University, Wiggins Memorial Library
creatorOf Van Vactor, David, 1906-1994. A little hymn : behold the spirit of the volunteer / D. Van Vector ; [words by] Frances Johnston. Free Library of Philadelphia, Parkway Central Library
referencedIn Caldwell and Davidson family papers, 1779-1997 (bulk 1824-1986). University of North Carolina, Charlotte, J. Murrey Atkins Library
creatorOf Johnston, Frances Benjamin, 1864-1952. Correspondence with Theodore Dreiser, 1899. University of Pennsylvania Libraries, Van Pelt Library
referencedIn Social Museum Collection. ca. 1890-1931 (inclusive). Harvard University Art Museum
creatorOf Johnston, Frances Benjamin, 1864-1952. Photographs of historic Virginia landmarks [manuscript] 1933-36. University of Virginia. Library
referencedIn Olmsted Associates Records, 1863-1971, (bulk 1884-1950) Library of Congress. Manuscript Division
creatorOf JOHNSTON, FRANCES BENJAMIN. Artist file : miscellaneous uncataloged material. Museum of Modern Art (MOMA)
creatorOf Johnston, Frances Benjamin, 1864-1952. Frances Benjamin Johnston collection, 1935-1936. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
creatorOf Johnston, Frances Benjamin, 1864-1952. Goldthwaite family collection [graphic], 1897-1998. Indiana Historical Society Library
referencedIn Mahoney, Leslie Nell Savage, 1890-1986. Papers, 1890-1986 (bulk 1942-1970). Smith College, Neilson Library
referencedIn Leslie Nelson Savage Mahoney Papers MS 229., 1890-1986, 1942-1970 Sophia Smith Collection
creatorOf Nichols, Frederick Doveton. Papers of Frederick D. Nichols [manuscript], 1950-1990. University of Virginia. Library
referencedIn Photographer File, ca. 1882-present © 2011 New-York Historical Society
creatorOf Black, James Wallace, 1825-1896,. Henry Cabot Lodge photographs, ca. 1860-1945. Massachusetts Historical Society
referencedIn Visual materials from the Booker T. Washington papers, 1889-1935, bulk 1897-1915 Prints and Photographs Division Library of Congress
referencedIn Charles Henry Caffin papers, circa 1883-1973, bulk 1883-1918 Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution
creatorOf Johnston, Frances B.. Johnston, Frances B. : [photography bio file]. Metropolitan Museum of Art, Thomas J. Watson Library
creatorOf Johnston, Frances Benjamin. Johnston, Frances Benjamin : [photography bio file]. Metropolitan Museum of Art, Thomas J. Watson Library
creatorOf Caffin, Charles Henry, 1854-1918. Charles Henry Caffin papers, circa 1883-1973, bulk 1883-1918. Smithsonian Archives of American Art
referencedIn Waddy B. Wood Papers, 1885-1941, (bulk 1913-1935) Library of Congress. Manuscript Division
creatorOf Whitelaw, Robert N. S., 1905-. Photographs for Charleston, come hell or high water, ca. 1885-ca. 1989. College of Charleston, Marlene and Nathan Addlestone Library
referencedIn Wood, Waddy B. (Waddy Butler), 1869-1944. Papers of Waddy B. Wood, 1885-1941 (bulk 1913-1935). Library of Congress
creatorOf Frances Benjamin Johnston Collection, 1935-1938 University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Library. North Carolina Collection.
creatorOf Littlejohn, Benjamin Franklin. Papers, 1897-1954. Independence Seaport Museum
referencedIn Bureau of Vocational Information (New York, N.Y.). Records, 1908-1932 (inclusive). Harvard University, Schlesinger Library
referencedIn Frances Benjamin Johnston Papers, 1855-1956, (bulk 1890-1945) Library of Congress. Manuscript Division
referencedIn Records, 1908-1932 Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe Institute
creatorOf Levy, Albert. Historic architecture and landscape image collection, ca. 1865-1973. Aurora University, Phillips Library
creatorOf Johnston, Frances Benjamin, 1864-1952. Frances Benjamin Johnston papers, 1855-1956 (bulk 1890-1945). Library of Congress. Manuscript Division
creatorOf Johnston, Frances Benjamin, 1864-1952,. Autograph letter signed from Frances Benjamin Johnson, London, to Augustin Daly [manuscript], 1897 August 18. Folger Shakespeare Library
Role Title Holding Repository
Direct Relationships
Relation Name
correspondedWith Adams, Henry, 1838-1918 person
correspondedWith Allen, Nellie person
correspondedWith Bain, George Grantham, 1865-1944 person
correspondedWith Berg, Charles I., 1856-1926 person
correspondedWith Bok, Edward William, 1863-1930 person
associatedWith Boone, Samuel Moyle. person
correspondedWith Bottomley, William Lawrence, 1883-1951 person
correspondedWith Branch, Zelda person
correspondedWith Brock, H. I. (Henry Irving), 1876-1961 person
associatedWith Bureau of Vocational Information corporateBody
associatedWith Bureau of Vocational Information (New York, N.Y.) corporateBody
associatedWith Caffin, Charles Henry, 1854-1918. person
correspondedWith Cameron, Elizabeth, 1857-1944 person
correspondedWith Campbell, Edmund S. (Edmund Schureman), 1884-1950 person
correspondedWith Carman, Bliss, 1861-1929 person
correspondedWith Chamberlin, Jo Hubbard person
correspondedWith Cleveland, Frances Folsom, 1864-1947 person
correspondedWith Cortelyou, George B. (George Bruce), 1862-1940 person
correspondedWith Cret, Paul Philippe, 1876-1945 person
correspondedWith Daly, Augustin, 1838-1899 person
associatedWith Division of Nutritional Sciences, person
correspondedWith Dreiser, Theodore, 1871-1945 person
correspondedWith Eastman, George, 1854-1932 person
associatedWith Exposition universelle internationale de 1900 (Paris, France) corporateBody
correspondedWith Frissell, Hollis Burke, 1851-1917 person
correspondedWith Gay, Walter, 1856-1937 person
associatedWith Hagan, Cornelia Benjamin. person
correspondedWith Hearst, Phoebe Apperson, 1842-1919 person
associatedWith Hewitt, Mattie Edwards, d. 1956. person
correspondedWith Hinton, A. Horsley (Alfred Horsley), 1863-1908 person
correspondedWith Holland, Leicester Bodine, 1882-1952 person
correspondedWith Hornblower, Joseph C. (Joseph Coerten), 1848-1908 person
correspondedWith Johnson, B. F. (Benjamin Franklin), 1856-1921 person
associatedWith Johnston, Frances Antoinette Benjamin. person
associatedWith Johnston, Francis Benjamin, 1864-1852 person
correspondedWith Käsebier, Gertrude, 1852-1934 person
correspondedWith Keppel, Frederick P. (Frederick Paul), 1875-1943 person
correspondedWith Kindler, Hans, 1892-1949 person
correspondedWith Laughlin, Clara E. (Clara Elizabeth), 1873-1941 person
correspondedWith Leland, Waldo Gifford, 1879-1966 person
associatedWith Littlejohn, Benjamin Franklin. person
associatedWith Louisiana Purchase Exposition (1904 : St. Louis, Mo.) corporateBody
correspondedWith Lumière, Antoine, 1842-1911 person
correspondedWith Mahoney, Leslie Nell Savage, 1890-1986 person
correspondedWith Marshall, James Rush, 1851-1927 person
correspondedWith McKim, Charles Follen, 1847-1909 person
correspondedWith Merriam, John C. (John Campbell), 1869-1945 person
correspondedWith Mitchell, Margaret, 1900-1949 person
correspondedWith Moore, Charles, 1855-1942 person
associatedWith Nichols, Frederick Doveton. person
correspondedWith Olmsted Associates corporateBody
correspondedWith Olmsted, Frederick Law, 1822-1903 person
associatedWith Pan-American Exposition (1901 : Buffalo, N.Y.) corporateBody
correspondedWith Patterson, Augusta Owen person
correspondedWith Penfield, Edward, 1866-1925 person
correspondedWith Reed, Ethel person
correspondedWith Schütze, Eva Watson, 1867-1935 person
correspondedWith Stieglitz, Alfred, 1864-1946 person
correspondedWith Tarbell, Ida M. (Ida Minerva), 1857-1944 person
correspondedWith Thompson, Mills, 1875-1944 person
associatedWith Van Vactor, David, 1906-1994. person
correspondedWith Wanamaker, John, 1838-1922 person
associatedWith Ward, Catharine Weed Barnes, 1851-1913. person
correspondedWith Ward, H. Snowden (Henry Snowden), 1865-1911 person
correspondedWith Waterman, Thomas Tileston, 1900-1951 person
correspondedWith Whigham, H. J. (Henry James), 1869-1954 person
correspondedWith Woodbury, Walter E. person
associatedWith Wood, Waddy B. (Waddy Butler), 1869-1944. person
associatedWith World's Columbian Exposition (1893 : Chicago, Ill.) corporateBody
Place Name Admin Code Country
New Hanover County (N.C.)
Wells Crossroads (N.C.)
Henderson (N.C.)
Old Sparta (N.C.)
Cornelius (N.C.)
Washington (N.C.)
South Mills (N.C.)
Rugby (N.C.)
Durham County (N.C.)
Muddy Creek (Burke County, N.C.)
Carteret County (N.C.)
Hertford County (N.C.)
Mount Holly (N.C.)
Raleigh (N.C.)
Hickory Nut Gap (N.C.)
Beaufort County (N.C.)
Flat Rock (N.C.)
Littleton (N.C.)
McDowell County (N.C.)
Rocky Mount (N.C.)
Wayne County (N.C.)
Harvey's Neck (N.C.)
Pender County (N.C.)
Elizabeth City (N.C.)
Nash County (N.C.)
Warrenton (N.C.)
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Tryon (N.C.)
Cleveland County (N.C.)
Aventon (N.C.)
Hillsborough (N.C.)
Taylors Cross Roads (N.C.)
Hertford (N.C.)
Beaufort (N.C.)
Westminster (N.C.)
Wilmington (N.C.)
Edenton (N.C.)
Jamestown (N.C.)
Wentworth (N.C.)
Davie County (N.C.)
United States
Asheville (N.C.)
Lincolnton (N.C.)
Yanceyville (N.C.)
Watauga County (N.C.)
Crowells (N.C.)
Bear Poplar (N.C.)
Mount Olive (N.C.)
Craven County (N.C.)
Halifax County (N.C.)
Airlie (N.C.)
Chapel Hill (N.C.)
Orange County (N.C.)
Concord (N.C.)
Sowers Ferry (N.C.)
Duplin County (N.C.)
Moyock (N.C.)
Kings Mountain (N.C.)
China Grove (N.C.)
Edgecombe County (N.C.)
Chowan County (N.C.)
Currituck County (N.C.)
Hampstead (N.C.)
Iredell County (N.C.)
Rockingham County (N.C.)
Cedar Point (N.C.)
Guilford County (N.C.)
New Market Township (N.C.)
Nashville (N.C.)
Huntersville (N.C.)
Henderson County (N.C.)
Salisbury (N.C.)
Catawba River (N.C.)
Jackson (N.C.)
Old Town (N.C.)
Rutherford County (N.C.)
Warren County (N.C.)
Southern States
Cabarrus County (N.C.)
Forsyth County (N.C.)
Gibsonville (N.C.)
Perquimans County (N.C.)
Tarboro (N.C.)
Valle Crucis (N.C.)
Townsville (N.C.)
Pasquotank County (N.C.)
New Bern (N.C.)
Polk County (N.C.)
Randolph County (N.C.)
Franklin County (N.C.)
Happy Valley (N.C.)
Caswell County (N.C.)
Mills Spring (N.C.)
Buck Hill (N.C.)
Blowing Rock (N.C.)
Bath (N.C.)
Tyrrell County (N.C.)
High Point (N.C.)
United States
Charlotte (N.C.)
Cumberland County (N.C.)
Davidson County (N.C.)
Fletcher (N.C.)
Virginia
Lake Lure (N.C.)
Northampton County (N.C.)
Fairntosh Plantation (N.C.)
Williamsboro (N.C.)
Halifax (N.C.)
Elmwood (N.C.)
Buncombe County (N.C.)
Vance County (N.C.)
Iron Station (N.C.)
Centerville (N.C.)
Saluda (N.C.)
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Caldwell County (N.C.)
Murfeesboro (N.C.)
Marion (N.C.)
Spencer (N.C.)
Mecklenburg County (N.C.)
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Columbus (N.C.)
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Winston-Salem (N.C.)
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Rocky Ford (N.C.)
Burke County (N.C.)
Denver (N.C.)
Brunswick County (N.C.)
Louisburg (N.C.)
Dallas (N.C.)
Wake County (N.C.)
Fort Bragg (N.C.)
Morganton (N.C.)
Lincoln County (N.C.)
Durham (N.C.)
Nixonton (N.C.)
Gaston County (N.C.)
Subject
Women photographers
Architecture
Gardens
Photography
Portrait photography
Pictorialism (Photography movement)
Architectural photography
Photography--Studios and dark rooms
Photojournalism
Photography, Artistic
Historic buildings
Occupation
Illustrator
Photographers
Function

Person

Birth 1864-01-15

Death 1952-05-16

Americans

English

Information

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