Discover How an Early 20th Century Photographer Shaped Her Identity…

Back during the turn of last century, women generally were shying away from fields such as photography.

There were, however, a few strong-minded women who took to this art and created an identity for themselves and in the process helped other women get out of their own little shell, bring out their skills and create a career and exposure for themselves.

One such photographer is Frances Benjamin Johnston.

Frances Benjamin Johnston was an American photographer and photojournalist who was well known for her portraits and Southern American architecture. She is also well known for some of her photographic series that feature African Americans and Native Americans towards the start of the 20th century.

Frances, born in Grafton, West Virginia in 1864, was certainly not born into a wealthy family – she was her parents’ only child and they were people with good social connections.

Her parents supported her interest in arts and sent her to study at the Académie Julian in Paris, where she studied drawing and painting. Upon her return to Washington D.C., she studied at the Art Students' League, while enjoying a Bohemian life.

In 1885 Frances returned to Washington and was then an independent and strong-willed woman who supported herself by working for magazines and later as a freelance photographer.

Title: [Frances Benjamin Johnston, full-length self-portrait dressed as a man with false moustache, posed with bicycle, facing left]; Creator(s): Johnston, Frances Benjamin, 1864-1952, photographer; Date Created/Published: [between 1890 and 1900]; Medium: 1 photographic print mounted on layered paper board : albumen ; photo 20.9 x 14.9 cm, on mount 25.3 x 20.3 cm. Reproduction Number: LC-DIG-ppmsc-04884 (digital file from original) LC-USZ62-83111 (b&w film copy neg.); Rights Advisory: No known restrictions on publication.

Frances who initially started off her career by writing articles for periodicals later found her creative path through photography when she was given her first camera by George  Eastman.

Frances studied photography and was trained in darkroom techniques by Thomas Smillie who was the director of photography at the Smithsonian.

During the start of her photography career, Frances photographed her friends, family and local figures and made portraits of them before she became a freelance photographer.

During the 1890s, Frances toured Europe to visit well-known photographers and to collect items for the museum. During her European Tour, she learned the new color photography process called “Autochrome.”

Title: Consecration of the choir and the two chapels of the Cathedral of St. John the Divine; Creator(s): Johnston, Frances Benjamin, 1864-1952, photographer; Date Created/Published: [c1911]; Medium: 1 photographic print. Summary: People standing in church. Reproduction Number: LC-USZ62-126629 (b&w film copy neg.); Call Number: LOT 8859 [item] [P&P];

Title: [“Beacon Hill House,” Arthur Curtiss James house, Newport, Rhode Island. Blue Garden flower border]; Creator(s): Johnston, Frances Benjamin, 1864-1952, photographer; Date Created/Published: [1917]; Medium: 1 photographic print ; 8 x 10 inches. Reproduction Number: LC-USZ62-125718 (b&w film copy neg.); Rights Advisory: No known restrictions on publication.

Title: [Bedroom in the White House, Washington, D.C.]; Creator(s): Johnston, Frances Benjamin, 1864-1952, photographer; Date Created/Published: 1893, printed later. Medium: 1 photographic print. Reproduction Number: LC-USZ62-127417 (b&w film copy neg.); Rights Advisory: No known restrictions on publication.

Title: Corcoran House, at NE corner of Conn. and H, N.W., Washington, D.C.; Creator(s): Johnston, Frances Benjamin, 1864-1952, photographer; Date Created/Published: [ca. 1900]; Medium: 1 photographic print. Summary: Brick garden wall and portal topped by sculpture of dog. Home of William Wilson Corcoran. Reproduction Number: LC-USZ62-61656 (b&w film copy neg.); Rights Advisory: No known restrictions on reproduction.

Title: [A visit to the Library of Congress]; Creator(s): Johnston, Frances Benjamin, 1864-1952, photographer; Date Created/Published: [1899?]; Medium: 1 photographic print : cyanotype. Reproduction Number: LC-USZ62-4550 (b&w film copy neg.); Rights Advisory: No known restrictions on reproduction.

Title: [Biology class, Washington, D.C]; Creator(s): Johnston, Frances Benjamin, 1864-1952, photographer; Date Created/Published: [1899?]; Medium: 1 photographic print : cyanotype. Reproduction Number: LC-USZ62-24318 (b&w film copy neg.); Rights Advisory: No known restrictions on reproduction.

Title: Alice (Roosevelt) Longworth, 1884-1980; Creator(s): Johnston, Frances Benjamin, 1864-1952, photographer; Date Created/Published: 1906. Medium: 1 photographic print. Summary: Head and shoulders portrait, facing left, in her wedding gown. Reproduction Number: LC-USZ62-83142 (b&w film copy neg.); Rights Advisory: No known restrictions on reproduction.

Title: Caroline Bradley Hornblower; Creator(s): Johnston, Frances Benjamin, 1864-1952, photographer; Date Created/Published: [between ca. 1890 and ca. 1910]; Medium: 1 photographic print : cyanotype. Summary: Mrs. Joseph Coerten Hornblower, half length portrait, seated, facing right. Reproduction Number: LC-USZ62-64871 (b&w film copy neg.); Rights Advisory: No known restrictions on reproduction.

Title: [Blanche Sweet(?) in costume]; Date Created/Published: [1923]; Medium: 1 photographic print. Reproduction Number: LC-USZ62-131096 (b&w film copy neg.) Rights Advisory: No known restrictions on publication. Call Number: LOT 11745 [item] [P&P];

Title: [Children jumping rope on the White House lawn during annual Easter egg roll with State, War, and Navy Building in background]; Creator(s): Johnston, Frances Benjamin, 1864-1952, photographer; Date Created/Published: [1898, printed 1964]; Medium: 1 photograph : gelatin silver print ; sheet 21 x 26 cm (8 x 10 format) Reproduction Number: LC-DIG-ds-10493 (digital file from original) LC-USZ62-68048 (b&w film copy neg.); Rights Advisory: No known restrictions on publication.

Title: [“Arcady,” George Owen Knapp house, Sycamore Canyon Road, Montecito, California. Lower garden, indoor swimming pool at pool house]; Creator(s): Johnston, Frances Benjamin, 1864-1952, photographer; Date Created/Published: [1917 spring]; Medium: 1 photograph : glass lantern slide, hand-colored ; 3.25 x 4 in. Reproduction Number: LC-DIG-ppmsca-16075 (digital file from original item); Rights Advisory: No known restrictions on publication.

Title: [“La Chiquita,” Francis Townsend Underhill house, Channel Drive, Montecito, California. View to Pacific Ocean]; Creator(s): Johnston, Frances Benjamin, 1864-1952, photographer; Date Created/Published: [1917 spring]; Medium: 1 photograph : glass lantern slide, hand-colored ; 3.25 x 4 in. Reproduction Number: LC-DIG-ppmsca-16062 (digital file from original item); Rights Advisory: No known restrictions on publication.

Title: [“Armsea Hall,” Charles Frederick Hoffman Jr. house, Narragansett Bay, Newport, Rhode Island. Rose Trellis]; Creator(s): Johnston, Frances Benjamin, 1864-1952, photographer; Related Names: Hewitt, Mattie Edwards, 1869-1956 , photographer; Date Created/Published: [1914 summer]; Medium: 1 photograph : glass lantern slide, hand-colored ; 3.25 x 4 in. Reproduction Number: LC-DIG-ppmsca-16237 (digital file from original item); Rights Advisory: No known restrictions on publication.

Title: [“Armsea Hall,” Charles Frederick Hoffman Jr. house, Narragansett Bay, Newport, Rhode Island. Rose-covered wall]; Creator(s): Johnston, Frances Benjamin, 1864-1952, photographer; Related Names: Hewitt, Mattie Edwards, 1869-1956 , photographer; Date Created/Published: [1914 summer]; Medium: 1 photograph : glass lantern slide, hand-colored ; 3.25 x 4 in. Reproduction Number: LC-DIG-ppmsca-16222 (digital file from original item); Rights Advisory: No known restrictions on publication.

Title: [A lesson in globe making. Children in class in a Washington, D.C., school]; Creator(s): Johnston, Frances Benjamin, 1864-1952, photographer; Date Created/Published: [1899]; Medium: 1 photoprint : cyanotype. Reproduction Number: LC-USZ62-94741 (b&w film copy neg.); Rights Advisory: No known restrictions on publication.

Title: [Children modeling clay at desks and drawing on blackboard in Washington, D.C. classroom]; Creator(s): Johnston, Frances Benjamin, 1864-1952, photographer; Date Created/Published: [1899?]; Medium: 1 photographic print : cyanotype. Reproduction Number: LC-USZ62-112554 (b&w film copy neg.); Rights Advisory: No known restrictions on publication.

Title: An avenue of plane trees / Frances Benjamin Johnston, New York. Creator(s): Johnston, Frances Benjamin, 1864-1952, photographer; Date Created/Published: [1925 or 1926]; Medium: 1 photographic print : gelatin silver. Summary: Man with pair of work horses on a country road, lined with trees, Provence, southern France. Reproduction Number: LC-USZ62-120453 (b&w film copy neg.); Rights Advisory: No known restrictions on publication.

Frances opened her own photographic studio in Washington D.C. in 1894 and in those days, she was the only female photographer in the city. She photographed famous personalities of that time and was that way commissioned by magazines to do celebrity portraits.

Frances' growth in her career helped her become the court photographer at the White House for presidential administrations of Benjamin Harrison, Grover Cleveland, William McKinley and Theodore Roosevelt.

It was a bit easier for Frances to acquire this job as her mother Frances Antoinette Johnston was at that time the Washington correspondent for the Baltimore Sun.

One of Frances’ famous works is her self-portrait “New Woman.” She was also the advocate for the role of women in the rapidly growing art of photography.

Frances Benjamin Johnston's Self-Portrait (as “New Woman”), a full-length self-portrait of her seated in front of fireplace, facing left, holding cigarette in one hand and a beer stein in the other, in her Washington, D.C. studio; Date: 1896; Author: Frances Benjamin Johnston (1864–1952)

One of Frances’ articles “What a Woman can do with a camera” was published by the Ladies’ Home Journal in 1897 and this was to urge women to consider photography as a means to support themselves.

Frances wrote, “To an energetic, ambitious woman with even ordinary opportunities, success is always possible,”

She also added, “Hard, intelligent and conscientious work seldom fails to develop small beginnings into large results.”

In her thirties, Frances traveled a great deal, documenting and photographing coal miners underground, iron workers, women in mills, etc.

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In 1899, she also photographed educational institutions that included the buildings and life of students of the Hampton Normal and Agricultural Institute, which helped her gain more popularity.

This institution was founded to provide vocational training for the newly freed slaves and native Americans and this remains one of her most prominent works. This work was also used to help raise money to continue the work done by the institute.

Frances co-curated an exhibition of photographs by 28 women photographers at the 1900 Exposition Universelle, which was later exhibited in St Petersburg, Moscow, and Washington D.C. This was an attempt to use her influence to help other American female artists of that time.

Frances' photographs of schools were also exhibited in the Exposition Universelle (Universal Exposition) in Paris, in order to evidence the progress in education during that time for which she won a gold medal.

She also during this time lectured on “Art photos by Women” for the International Congress of Photography held in Paris. She photographed various world fairs and peace treaty signing events.

Title: A primary school in the field; Creator(s): Johnston, Frances Benjamin, 1864-1952, photographer; Date Created/Published: 1900. Medium: 1 photomechanical print : halftone. Summary: Photomechanical print showing school children collecting flowers in a meadow. Reproduction Number: LC-USZ62-138995 (b&w film copy neg.); Rights Advisory: No known restrictions on publication.

Title: [“Il Paradiso,” Mrs. Dudley Peter Allen house, 1188 Hillcrest Avenue, Oak Knoll, Pasadena, California. Loggia]; Creator(s): Johnston, Frances Benjamin, 1864-1952, photographer; Date Created/Published: [1917 spring]; Medium: 1 photographic print. Reproduction Number: LC-USZ62-128623 (b&w film copy neg.); Rights Advisory: No known restrictions on publication.

Title: Ida (Saxton) McKinley, 1847-1907; Creator(s): Johnston, Frances Benjamin, 1864-1952, photographer; Date Created/Published: [between ca. 1890 and ca. 1910]; Medium: 1 photographic print. Summary: Full length portrait, seated, facing left. Reproduction Number: LC-USZ62-83132 (b&w film copy neg.); Rights Advisory: No known restrictions on reproduction.

Title: Frances (Hodgson) Burnett, 1849-1924; Creator(s): Johnston, Frances Benjamin, 1864-1952, photographer; Date Created/Published: [between 1890 and 1910]; Medium: 1 photographic print. Summary: Half-length portrait of author, seated, facing right. Reproduction Number: LC-USZ62-77338 (b&w film copy neg.); Rights Advisory: No known restrictions on reproduction.

Title: [“El Fureidis,” James Waldron Gillespie house, Parra Grande Lane, Montecito, California. Sitting room with Caravaggio, Supper of Eumeaus, 1606]; Creator(s): Johnston, Frances Benjamin, 1864-1952, photographer; Date Created/Published: [1917 spring]; Medium: 1 photographic print. Reproduction Number: LC-USZ62-133983 (b&w film copy neg.); Rights Advisory: No known restrictions on publication.

Title: [Girl painting strips with glue to assemble cigar boxes]; Creator(s): Johnston, Frances Benjamin, 1864-1952, photographer; Date Created/Published: [ca. 1910]; Medium: 1 photographic print. Reproduction Number: LC-USZ62-47087 (b&w film copy neg.); Rights Advisory: No known restrictions on publication.

Title: [“Inellan,” Walter Douglas house, Channel Drive, Montecito, California. Service entrance]; Creator(s): Johnston, Frances Benjamin, 1864-1952, photographer; Date Created/Published: [1917 spring]; Medium: 1 photograph : glass lantern slide, hand-colored ; 3.25 x 4 in. Reproduction Number: LC-DIG-ppmsca-16104 (digital file from original item); Rights Advisory: No known restrictions on publication.

Title: [Dr. Frederick Kellogg Hollister house, Lily Pond Lane, East Hampton, New York. Entrance pergola]; Creator(s): Johnston, Frances Benjamin, 1864-1952, photographer; Related Names: Hewitt, Mattie Edwards, 1869-1956 , photographer; Date Created/Published: [ca. 1915]; Medium: 1 photograph : glass lantern slide, hand-colored ; 3.25 x 4 in. Reproduction Number: LC-DIG-ppmsca-16845 (digital file from original item); Rights Advisory: No known restrictions on publication.

Title: [“Flagstones,” Charles Clinton Marshall house, 117 West 55th Street, New York, New York. Laundry on clothesline]; Creator(s): Johnston, Frances Benjamin, 1864-1952, photographer; Date Created/Published: [1922]; Medium: 1 photograph : glass lantern slide, hand-colored ; 3.25 x 4 in. Reproduction Number: LC-DIG-ppmsca-16662 (digital file from original item); Rights Advisory: No known restrictions on publication.

Title: [Group of young women studying electro-magnets in normal school, Washington, D.C.]; Creator(s): Johnston, Frances Benjamin, 1864-1952, photographer; Date Created/Published: [1899?]; Medium: 1 photoprint : cyanotype. Reproduction Number: LC-USZ62-100292 (b&w film copy neg.); Rights Advisory: No known restrictions on publication.

Title: [Elementary school children standing and watching teacher write at blackboard, Washington, D.C.]; Creator(s): Johnston, Frances Benjamin, 1864-1952, photographer; Date Created/Published: [1899?]; Medium: 1 photographic print. Reproduction Number: LC-USZ62-90603 (b&w film copy neg.); Rights Advisory: No known restrictions on publication.

Title: [“Gray Gardens,” Robert Carmer Hill house, Lily Pond Lane, East Hampton, New York. Garden tool house]; Creator(s): Johnston, Frances Benjamin, 1864-1952, photographer; Related Names: Hewitt, Mattie Edwards, 1869-1956 , photographer; Date Created/Published: [ca. 1914]; Medium: 1 photograph : glass lantern slide, hand-colored ; 3.25 x 4 in. Reproduction Number: LC-DIG-ppmsca-16286 (digital file from original item); Rights Advisory: No known restrictions on publication.

Title: [Interior view of chapel filled with female students at the Tuskegee Institute]; Creator(s): Johnston, Frances Benjamin, 1864-1952, photographer; Date Created/Published: [ca. 1902]; Medium: 1 negative : glass. Reproduction Number: LC-DIG-ppmscd-00083 (digital file from original glass negative); Rights Advisory: No known restrictions on publication.

Title: Martha Cameron, daughter of Senator Donald Cameron, Pa.; Creator(s): Johnston, Frances Benjamin, 1864-1952, photographer; Date Created/Published: ca. 1896. Medium: 1 photographic print. Summary: Three-quarter length portrait, seated, facing slightly left. Reproduction Number: LC-USZ62-72146 (b&w film copy neg.); Rights Advisory: No known restrictions on reproduction.

Title: [Miners at work on the Mesabi Range in northeast Minnesota]; Creator(s): Johnston, Frances Benjamin, 1864-1952, photographer; Date Created/Published: 1903. Medium: 1 photographic print. Reproduction Number: LC-USZ62-69198 (b&w film copy neg.); Rights Advisory: No known restrictions on publication.

Title: [Massachusetts. Lynn. shoe factories, 1895?: a lining stitcher (woman) at work]; Creator(s): Johnston, Frances Benjamin, 1864-1952, photographer; Date Created/Published: [1895?]; Medium: 1 photographic print : cyanotype. Reproduction Number: LC-USZ62-41873 (b&w film copy neg.); Rights Advisory: No known restrictions on publication.

Title: [John Constantine Hillman house, 514 California Terrace, Pasadena, California. Pergola porch]; Creator(s): Johnston, Frances Benjamin, 1864-1952, photographer; Date Created/Published: [1917 spring]; Medium: 1 photograph : glass lantern slide, hand-colored ; 3.25 x 4 in. Reproduction Number: LC-DIG-ppmsca-16082 (digital file from original item); Rights Advisory: No known restrictions on publication.

Title: [“Killenworth,” George Dupont Pratt house, Glen Cove, New York. Swimming pool]; Creator(s): Johnston, Frances Benjamin, 1864-1952, photographer; Date Created/Published: [ca. 1918]; Medium: 1 photograph : glass lantern slide, hand-colored ; 3.25 x 4 in. Reproduction Number: LC-DIG-ppmsca-21914 (digital file from original item); Rights Advisory: No known restrictions on publication.

In 1913, Frances opened a studio in New York with her partner Mattie Edwards Hewitt who was also a successful freelance photographer. The letters Mattie wrote to Frances are documented in “The Woman Behind the Lens” The Life and Work of Frances Benjamin Johnston, 1864 – 1952.”

Frances later taught business for women at the New York University and during this period produced a series of studies along with Mattie, on New York Architecture.

As a result, in the 1920s, Frances became increasingly interested in architectural photography mostly focusing on buildings and gardens that were abandoned and in poor condition.

As her interest in photographing architecture grew, Frances started documenting the architecture of Southern America. She preserved the memories and history of Southern America through her photography.

Most of the buildings that she photographed included barns, inns and ordinary structures that were deteriorating which portrayed the life of the Americans in the southern part.

These photographs of Frances have been valuable resources for modern architects, historians and conservationists. Frances exhibited photographs from these series in an exhibition entitled “Pictorial Survey – Old Fredericksburg, Virginia – Old Falmouth and Nearby Places.”

Frances gained more publicity after this and was hired by the University of Virginia and the State of North Carolina to record their buildings and architectural history.

She was also hired by Louisiana to document its rapidly deteriorating plantations. Following this, Frances was provided a grant to photograph many other southern states.

Title: [“Surprise Valley Farm,” Arthur Curtiss James property, Beacon Hill Road, Newport, Rhode Island. Farmer cottages]; Creator(s): Johnston, Frances Benjamin, 1864-1952, photographer; Date Created/Published: [1917]; Medium: 1 photographic print. Reproduction Number: LC-USZ62-125703 (b&w film copy neg.); Rights Advisory: No known restrictions on publication.

Title: [Residence, cabin, on James River, Tuckahoe Plantation, Goochland County, Virginia]; Creator(s): Johnston, Frances Benjamin, 1864-1952, photographer; Date Created/Published: [between ca. 1905 and ca. 1933]; Medium: 1 photographic print. Reproduction Number: LC-USZ62-126816 (b&w film copy neg.); Rights Advisory: No known restrictions on publication.

Title: White House bedroom; Creator(s): Johnston, Frances Benjamin, 1864-1952, photographer; Date Created/Published: c1893, printed later. Medium: 1 photographic print. Reproduction Number: LC-USZ62-127419 (b&w film copy neg.); Call Number: LOT 11350-10 [item] [P&P];

Title: Pattern making; Creator(s): Johnston, Frances Benjamin, 1864-1952, photographer; Date Created/Published: 1900. Medium: 1 photomechanical print : halftone. Summary: A group of school children cutting paper into leaf shapes, as their teacher looks on. Reproduction Number: LC-DIG-ppmsc-04830 (digital file from original); Rights Advisory: No known restrictions on publication.

Title: Natalie Clifford Barney; Creator(s): Johnston, Frances Benjamin, 1864-1952, photographer; Date Created/Published: [between ca. 1890 and ca. 1910]; Medium: 1 photographic print. Summary: Three-quarter length portrait, seated, facing right. Daughter of Alice Pike Barney. Reproduction Number: LC-USZ62-77334 (b&w film copy neg.); Rights Advisory: No known restrictions on reproduction.

Title: Post Office Dept. – Dead Letter Office; Creator(s): Johnston, Frances Benjamin, 1864-1952, photographer; Date Created/Published: [between 1890 and 1950]; Medium: 1 photographic print : cyanotype. Summary: Large group of people working. Reproduction Number: LC-USZ62-74971 (b&w film copy neg.); Rights Advisory: No known restrictions on reproduction.

Title: Mrs. Florence Fleming Noyes; Creator(s): Johnston, Frances Benjamin, 1864-1952, photographer; Date Created/Published: [no date recorded on caption card]; Medium: 1 photographic print. Summary: Full lgth., jumping, left profile; in a scarf dance. Reproduction Number: LC-USZ62-83159 (b&w film copy neg.); Rights Advisory: No known restrictions on publication.

Title: [New York Yacht Club, Oyster Bay, L.I., 1905: 2 men with man and woman watching yacht race]; Creator(s): Johnston, Frances Benjamin, 1864-1952, photographer; Date Created/Published: 1905. Medium: 1 photographic print. Reproduction Number: LC-USZ62-53891 (b&w film copy neg.); Rights Advisory: No known restrictions on publication.

Title: U.S. Naval Academy, Annapolis: cutter drill, under oars; Creator(s): Johnston, Frances Benjamin, 1864-1952, photographer; Date Created/Published: 1902? Medium: 1 photographic print. Reproduction Number: LC-USZ62-60433 (b&w film copy neg.); Rights Advisory: No known restrictions on publication.

Title: [Ruth Bramley Dean house, 150 East 61st Street, New York, New York. Trellis]; Creator(s): Gillies, John Wallace, approximately 1884-1927, photographer; Related Names: Johnston, Frances Benjamin, 1864-1952 , lecturer; Date Created/Published: [ca. 1922]; Medium: 1 photograph : glass lantern slide, b&w ; 3.25 x 4 in. Reproduction Number: LC-DIG-ppmsca-16157 (digital file from original item); Rights Advisory: No known restrictions on publication.

Title: [“Stratford Hall,” 786 Great House Road, Stratford, Westmoreland County, Virginia. Southwest or southeast outhouse]; Creator(s): Johnston, Frances Benjamin, 1864-1952, photographer; Date Created/Published: [ca. 1932]; Medium: 1 photograph : glass lantern slide, hand-colored ; 3.25 x 4 in. Reproduction Number: LC-DIG-ppmsca-16194 (digital file from original item); Rights Advisory: No known restrictions on publication.

Title: [“The Steppingstones,” Annie May Hegeman house, Art Village, Southampton, New York. Rose arbor]; Creator(s): Johnston, Frances Benjamin, 1864-1952, photographer; Related Names: Hewitt, Mattie Edwards, 1869-1956 , photographer; Date Created/Published: [ca. 1915]; Medium: 1 photograph : glass lantern slide, hand-colored ; 3.25 x 4 in. Reproduction Number: LC-DIG-ppmsca-16232 (digital file from original item); Rights Advisory: No known restrictions on publication.

Title: [“The Fens,” Lorenzo Easton Woodhouse house, Huntting Lane, East Hampton, New York. Rose arbor]; Creator(s): Johnston, Frances Benjamin, 1864-1952, photographer; Related Names: Hewitt, Mattie Edwards, 1869-1956 , photographer; Date Created/Published: [1914]; Medium: 1 photograph : glass lantern slide, hand-colored ; 3.25 x 4 in. Reproduction Number: LC-DIG-ppmsca-16284 (digital file from original item); Rights Advisory: No known restrictions on publication.

Title: [“The Orchard,” James Lawrence Breese house, 151 Hill Street, Southampton, New York. Herms along pathway]; Creator(s): Johnston, Frances Benjamin, 1864-1952, photographer; Related Names: Hewitt, Mattie Edwards, 1869-1956 , photographer; Date Created/Published: [1912]; Medium: 1 photograph : glass lantern slide, hand-colored ; 3.25 x 4 in. Reproduction Number: LC-DIG-ppmsca-16812 (digital file from original item); Rights Advisory: No known restrictions on publication.

Title: [Old Birds' Nest Tavern, Marionville vicinity, Northampton County, Virginia. People on porch]; Creator(s): Johnston, Frances Benjamin, 1864-1952, photographer; Date Created/Published: [between ca. 1930 and 1939]; Medium: 1 photograph : glass lantern slide, sepia-toned ; 3.25 x 4 in. Reproduction Number: LC-DIG-ppmsca-16611 (digital file from original item); Rights Advisory: No known restrictions on publication.

Title: [Turtle Bay Gardens, 227-247 East 48 Street and 228-246 East 49th Street, New York, New York. Terrace]; Creator(s): Johnston, Frances Benjamin, 1864-1952, photographer; Date Created/Published: [1920 fall]; Medium: 1 photograph : glass lantern slide, hand-colored ; 3.25 x 4 in. Reproduction Number: LC-DIG-ppmsca-16646 (digital file from original item); Rights Advisory: No known restrictions on publication.

Title: [“The Breakers,” Cornelius Vanderbilt II house, 44 Ochre Point Avenue, Newport, Rhode Island. Loggia parterre]; Creator(s): Johnston, Frances Benjamin, 1864-1952, photographer; Related Names: Hewitt, Mattie Edwards, 1869-1956 , photographer; Date Created/Published: [1914 summer]; Medium: 1 photograph : glass lantern slide, hand-colored ; 3.25 x 4 in. Reproduction Number: LC-DIG-ppmsca-16771 (digital file from original item); Rights Advisory: No known restrictions on publication.

Title: [Villa La Pietra, via Bolognese, 120, Florence, Tuscany, Italy. Entrance drive]; Creator(s): Johnston, Frances Benjamin, 1864-1952, photographer; Date Created/Published: [1925 summer]; Medium: 1 photograph : glass lantern slide, hand-colored ; 3.25 x 4 in. Reproduction Number: LC-DIG-ppmsca-16519 (digital file from original item); Rights Advisory: No known restrictions on publication.

In 1935, Frances started a project where she began documenting the less evolved structures of the Colonial Era in Virginia. The project lasted for eight years in which Frances surveyed 50,000 miles across 95 counties in Virginia.

Frances was named an honorary member of the American Institute of Architects for her work in documenting old deteriorating buildings. Her collections were purchased by various museums.

In 1940, Frances acquired a home in the French Quarter of New Orleans and retired there in 1945. She was an independent woman financially and artistically until her death in 1952 at the age of 88.

Her career was a long successful one and if you wish to know more about it, discover more detailed information here.

Frances’ images show how a woman uses every angle to shape a new identity for herself and for the multitude of women who would follow her.

Title: [Frances Benjamin Johnston, three-quarter length portrait, holding and looking down at camera, facing slightly left]; Date Created/Published: [ca. 1950]; Medium: 1 photographic print : gelatin silver. Reproduction Number: LC-USZ62-120455 (b&w film copy neg.); Rights Advisory: No known restrictions on publication.

To view Frances' entire collection at the Library of Congress, head over to this link here.

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About the author

Dahlia Ambrose

Dahlia is a physicist and self taught photographer with a passion for travel, photography and technology. She can sometimes get obsessed trying new photography techniques and post processing styles using Lightroom or Plugins in Photoshop. She occasionally writes articles on topics that interest or provoke her. You can check out her photography on Instagram, 500px and Flickr

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