Frances Benjamin Johnston (1864 - 1952)


Sarah Darkmagic - Posted on 03 December 2013

An early photojournalist and photographer, Frances Benjamin Johnston came from a wealthy and well-connected family in West Virginia. She started by taking portraits of friends and family before touring Europe in the 1890s. In 1894 she opened her own studio in Washington, DC. She worked for a number of newspapers and magazines and once was called "Photographer to the American court." In addition to photographing many famous people, including Susan B. Anthony, Mark Twain, Booker T. Washington, Admiral Dewey, and the Roosevelt children, she is well known for her pictures of architecture and gardens. She also used her prominence in her field to encourage other women to enter the craft.

Frances Benjamin Johnston, full-length portrait: Prints & Photographs Division, Library of Congress, LC-USZ62-64301Frances Benjamin Johnston, full-length portrait: Prints & Photographs Division, Library of Congress, LC-USZ62-64301
She came from a family of accomplished women. Her mother, Frances Antoinette Johnston, worked for the Baltimore Sun as a congressional journalist and dramatic critic. These political connections helped the younger Johnston gain entry as an official White House photographer for the Harrison, Cleveland, McKinley, Theodore Roosevelt, and Taft presidential administrations.

Over three thousand of her images are available online through the Library of Congress Johnston (Frances Benjamin) collection. Many of them are of gardens and historic homes, including over a thousand hand colored photos.

If you're looking for a strong woman who rubbed elbows with the elite and traveled the world, Frances Benjamin Johnston is a great person to look to.

"Glendessary," Robert Cameron Rogers house, Glendessary Lane, Mission Heights, Santa Barbara, California. Fountain: Johnston (Frances Benjamin) Collection, Prints & Photographs Division, Library of Congress, LC-DIG-ppmsca-16006"Glendessary," Robert Cameron Rogers house, Glendessary Lane, Mission Heights, Santa Barbara, California. Fountain: Johnston (Frances Benjamin) Collection, Prints & Photographs Division, Library of Congress, LC-DIG-ppmsca-16006
Mrs. Eldridge Merick Fowler house, 363 Grove Street, Pasadena, California. Wall fountain: Johnston (Frances Benjamin) Collection, Prints & Photographs Division, Library of Congress, LC-DIG-ppmsca-16009Mrs. Eldridge Merick Fowler house, 363 Grove Street, Pasadena, California. Wall fountain: Johnston (Frances Benjamin) Collection, Prints & Photographs Division, Library of Congress, LC-DIG-ppmsca-16009
Michael Cochrane Armour house, 962 Linda Vista Avenue, Pasadena, California. Lily pool: Johnston (Frances Benjamin) Collection, Prints & Photographs Division, Library of Congress, LC-DIG-ppmsca-16013Michael Cochrane Armour house, 962 Linda Vista Avenue, Pasadena, California. Lily pool: Johnston (Frances Benjamin) Collection, Prints & Photographs Division, Library of Congress, LC-DIG-ppmsca-16013
William Alexander Spinks, Jr., ranch, Foothill Boulevard, Duarte, California. Lily pool: Johnston (Frances Benjamin) Collection, Prints & Photographs Division, Library of Congress, LC-DIG-ppmsca-16026William Alexander Spinks, Jr., ranch, Foothill Boulevard, Duarte, California. Lily pool: Johnston (Frances Benjamin) Collection, Prints & Photographs Division, Library of Congress, LC-DIG-ppmsca-16026
"Inellan," Walter Douglas house, Channel Drive, Montecito, California. View from pergola overlooking the Pacific Ocean: Johnston (Frances Benjamin) Collection, Prints & Photographs Division, Library of Congress, LC-DIG-ppmsca-16029."Inellan," Walter Douglas house, Channel Drive, Montecito, California. View from pergola overlooking the Pacific Ocean: Johnston (Frances Benjamin) Collection, Prints & Photographs Division, Library of Congress, LC-DIG-ppmsca-16029.
"Las Tejas," Oakleigh Thorne house, 170 Picacho Road, Montecito, California. View from swimming pool pavilion to house: Johnston (Frances Benjamin) Collection, Prints & Photographs Division, Library of Congress, LC-DIG-ppmsca-16037"Las Tejas," Oakleigh Thorne house, 170 Picacho Road, Montecito, California. View from swimming pool pavilion to house: Johnston (Frances Benjamin) Collection, Prints & Photographs Division, Library of Congress, LC-DIG-ppmsca-16037
"El Fureidis," James Waldron Gillespie house, Parra Grande Lane, Montecito, California. Italian Cypress: Johnston (Frances Benjamin) Collection, Prints & Photographs Division, Library of Congress, LC-DIG-ppmsca-16038"El Fureidis," James Waldron Gillespie house, Parra Grande Lane, Montecito, California. Italian Cypress: Johnston (Frances Benjamin) Collection, Prints & Photographs Division, Library of Congress, LC-DIG-ppmsca-16038
"Uplands," Charles Templeton Crocker house, 400 Uplands Drive, Hillsborough, California. View to porte cochère terrace: Johnston (Frances Benjamin) Collection, Prints & Photographs Division, Library of Congress, LC-DIG-ppmsca-16063"Uplands," Charles Templeton Crocker house, 400 Uplands Drive, Hillsborough, California. View to porte cochère terrace: Johnston (Frances Benjamin) Collection, Prints & Photographs Division, Library of Congress, LC-DIG-ppmsca-16063
"New Place," William Henry Crocker house, 80 New Place Road, Hillsborough, California. Reflecting pool: Johnston (Frances Benjamin) Collection, Prints & Photographs Division, Library of Congress, LC-DIG-ppmsca-16072."New Place," William Henry Crocker house, 80 New Place Road, Hillsborough, California. Reflecting pool: Johnston (Frances Benjamin) Collection, Prints & Photographs Division, Library of Congress, LC-DIG-ppmsca-16072.
"Arcady," George Owen Knapp house, Sycamore Canyon Road, Montecito, California. Lower garden, indoor swimming pool at pool house: Johnston (Frances Benjamin) Collection, Prints & Photographs Division, Library of Congress, LC-DIG-ppmsca-16075"Arcady," George Owen Knapp house, Sycamore Canyon Road, Montecito, California. Lower garden, indoor swimming pool at pool house: Johnston (Frances Benjamin) Collection, Prints & Photographs Division, Library of Congress, LC-DIG-ppmsca-16075
"El Fureidis," James Waldron Gillespie house, Parra Grande Lane, Montecito, California. Circular ornamental pool: Johnston (Frances Benjamin) Collection, Prints & Photographs Division, Library of Congress, LC-DIG-ppmsca-16081"El Fureidis," James Waldron Gillespie house, Parra Grande Lane, Montecito, California. Circular ornamental pool: Johnston (Frances Benjamin) Collection, Prints & Photographs Division, Library of Congress, LC-DIG-ppmsca-16081
Santa Barbara Mission, 2201 Laguna Street, Santa Barbara, California. Fountain and entrance façade: Johnston (Frances Benjamin) Collection, Prints & Photographs Division, Library of Congress, LC-DIG-ppmsca-16089Santa Barbara Mission, 2201 Laguna Street, Santa Barbara, California. Fountain and entrance façade: Johnston (Frances Benjamin) Collection, Prints & Photographs Division, Library of Congress, LC-DIG-ppmsca-16089
John Henry Fisher adobe, 765 West Highland Avenue, Redlands, California. Entrance door: Johnston (Frances Benjamin) Collection, Prints & Photographs Division, Library of Congress, LC-DIG-ppmsca-16108.John Henry Fisher adobe, 765 West Highland Avenue, Redlands, California. Entrance door: Johnston (Frances Benjamin) Collection, Prints & Photographs Division, Library of Congress, LC-DIG-ppmsca-16108.
Reproduction of illustration: "Baberton, Midlothian," Scotland, showing the hollow with more formal garden beyond: Johnston (Frances Benjamin) Collection, Prints & Photographs Division, Library of Congress, LC-DIG-ppmsca-16168.Reproduction of illustration: "Baberton, Midlothian," Scotland, showing the hollow with more formal garden beyond: Johnston (Frances Benjamin) Collection, Prints & Photographs Division, Library of Congress, LC-DIG-ppmsca-16168.
"Stratford Hall," 786 Great House Road, Stratford, Westmoreland County, Virginia. Southwest or southeast outhouse: Johnston (Frances Benjamin) Collection, Prints & Photographs Division, Library of Congress, LC-DIG-ppmsca-16194"Stratford Hall," 786 Great House Road, Stratford, Westmoreland County, Virginia. Southwest or southeast outhouse: Johnston (Frances Benjamin) Collection, Prints & Photographs Division, Library of Congress, LC-DIG-ppmsca-16194
"Gray Gardens," Robert Carmer Hill house, Lily Pond Lane, East Hampton, New York. Dovecote: Johnston (Frances Benjamin) Collection, Prints & Photographs Division, Library of Congress, LC-DIG-ppmsca-16226"Gray Gardens," Robert Carmer Hill house, Lily Pond Lane, East Hampton, New York. Dovecote: Johnston (Frances Benjamin) Collection, Prints & Photographs Division, Library of Congress, LC-DIG-ppmsca-16226
Frances Benjamin Johnston (right), full-length self-portrait dressed as a man with false moustache: Johnston (Frances Benjamin) Collection, Prints & Photographs Division, Library of Congress, LC-DIG-ppmsc-04879Frances Benjamin Johnston (right), full-length self-portrait dressed as a man with false moustache: Johnston (Frances Benjamin) Collection, Prints & Photographs Division, Library of Congress, LC-DIG-ppmsc-04879
Portrait group of Mrs. Frances (Folsom) Cleveland and the ladies of the Cabinet: Olive Harmon, Jane P. Francis, M.J. Carlisle, Agnes P. Olney, Nannie H. Wilson, Juliet K. Lamont, and Leila Herbert. Johnston (Frances Benjamin) Collection, Prints & Photographs Division, Library of Congress, LC-USZ62-47035Portrait group of Mrs. Frances (Folsom) Cleveland and the ladies of the Cabinet: Olive Harmon, Jane P. Francis, M.J. Carlisle, Agnes P. Olney, Nannie H. Wilson, Juliet K. Lamont, and Leila Herbert. Johnston (Frances Benjamin) Collection, Prints & Photographs Division, Library of Congress, LC-USZ62-47035
Frances Benjamin Johnston, full-length self-portrait dressed as a man with false moustache, posed with bicycle, facing left: Johnston (Frances Benjamin) Collection, Prints & Photographs Division, Library of Congress, LC-DIG-ppmsc-04884Frances Benjamin Johnston, full-length self-portrait dressed as a man with false moustache, posed with bicycle, facing left: Johnston (Frances Benjamin) Collection, Prints & Photographs Division, Library of Congress, LC-DIG-ppmsc-04884
Three African American women, full-length portrait, standing, at the State Fair at Saint Paul, Minn.: Johnston (Frances Benjamin) Collection, Prints & Photographs Division, Library of Congress, LC-USZ62-122410Three African American women, full-length portrait, standing, at the State Fair at Saint Paul, Minn.: Johnston (Frances Benjamin) Collection, Prints & Photographs Division, Library of Congress, LC-USZ62-122410
Mills Thompson, head-and-shoulders portrait, facing front, posed as toothless old man: Johnston (Frances Benjamin) Collection, Prints & Photographs Division, Library of Congress, LC-USZ62-47066Mills Thompson, head-and-shoulders portrait, facing front, posed as toothless old man: Johnston (Frances Benjamin) Collection, Prints & Photographs Division, Library of Congress, LC-USZ62-47066
Elderly man clasping a cane(?), head-and-shoulders portrait: Johnston (Frances Benjamin) Collection, Prints & Photographs Division, Library of Congress, LC-USZC2-5941Elderly man clasping a cane(?), head-and-shoulders portrait: Johnston (Frances Benjamin) Collection, Prints & Photographs Division, Library of Congress, LC-USZC2-5941
Newsboy looking at coins in his hand, half-length portrait: Johnston (Frances Benjamin) Collection, Prints & Photographs Division, Library of Congress, LC-USZC2-6095Newsboy looking at coins in his hand, half-length portrait: Johnston (Frances Benjamin) Collection, Prints & Photographs Division, Library of Congress, LC-USZC2-6095
Booker T. Washington, half-length portrait, seated: Johnston (Frances Benjamin) Collection, Prints & Photographs Division, Library of Congress, LC-J694-255Booker T. Washington, half-length portrait, seated: Johnston (Frances Benjamin) Collection, Prints & Photographs Division, Library of Congress, LC-J694-255
American Indian student, half-length portrait, facing right, taken at Hampton Institute, Hampton, Va.: Johnston (Frances Benjamin) Collection, Prints & Photographs Division, Library of Congress, LC-USZ62-94865American Indian student, half-length portrait, facing right, taken at Hampton Institute, Hampton, Va.: Johnston (Frances Benjamin) Collection, Prints & Photographs Division, Library of Congress, LC-USZ62-94865
George Washington Carver, half-length portrait, facing right, Tuskegee Institute, Tuskegee, Alabama: Johnston (Frances Benjamin) Collection, Prints & Photographs Division, Library of Congress, LC-J601-302George Washington Carver, half-length portrait, facing right, Tuskegee Institute, Tuskegee, Alabama: Johnston (Frances Benjamin) Collection, Prints & Photographs Division, Library of Congress, LC-J601-302

tags

Send feedback using the contact form or through twitter, @sarahdarkmagic.

Resources for FAQs

Search

Syndicate

Syndicate content