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FINDING AID FOR FRANCES BENJAMIN JOHNSTON COLLECTION THE HUNTINGTON LIBRARY Call No.: photCL 352 Name of Collection: Frances Benjamin Johnston Collection Size: 1276 single photographs in 12 boxes; Approximately 1217 (8x10 in.) glass plate negatives in 59 boxes and 61 (11x14 and 14x17 in.) glass plate negatives in 6 boxes. Time Period: 1895-‐1906. Provenance: Purchased by Henry E. Huntington from Frances B. Johnston, 1924. Summary Description: 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. The photographs arrived at the Huntington in 1924 when, after persistent negotiations, she sold some 1200 glass plate negatives and her "catalogue set of blue prints" to Henry E. Huntingotn and his library for several thousand dollars.* In her correspondence with the librarian, George Watson Cole, Johnston described the collection as "portraits of famous men and women and historic events...through the administrations of Benj. Harrison, Cleveland, McKinley, Roosevelt and Taft" which she deemed to possess "ultimate historic value and interest." Indeed, this collection of cyanotypes (with some gelatin and finished, platinum prints) focuses largely on the stream of socialites, diplomats, Presidents, senators, reformers, Supreme Court Justices, artists, authors and other important figures who flowed through Johnston's well-‐appointed studio at the turn-‐of-‐the-‐ century. In addition there is an excellent series of views, largely interior shots, of Washington's embassies, legations and famous residences which Johnston photographed for a series of articles in Demorest's Family Magazine. The remainder of the collection is comprised of a sundry group of images including copies of Matthew Brady's daguerreotypes (most unidentified) belonging to the War Department, various treaties and official documents, a set of Abraham Lincoln ephemera intended to illustrate Ida Tarbell's Life of Lincoln and some views of the Bell Telephone. What follows is a general description of the photographs in the Johnston Collection according to their numerical and subject arrangement. *For more detailed information about the events surrounding this transaction, please refer to an article by Jennifer A. Watts entitled "The Frances Benjamin Johnston Portrait Collection at the Huntington Library.” History of Photography. Vol. 19, No. 3. August 1995, 252-‐262. Boxes 1-‐8 photCL 352 (1-‐931) Portraiture, 1895-‐1905 These images span the length of Johnston's major portraiture years, beginning in 1895 with 23 shots of the first sitter in her studio, Frances Hodgson Burnett, and including a series of Supreme Court Justices which Johnston made in 1905. The sitters are divided into the following categories and finding guides are available according to these topics: Presidents, Cabinet members, Senators, House members, Supreme Court Justices, Diplomats, State Department employees, Women, Government Commissions, and Portraits (including authors, artists, poets, children -‐essentially all those who are not affiliated with the government either by direct appointment or marriage). The large format portraits are housed in Box 12. Box 9 photCL 352 (932-‐1048) Government Commissions, Events, and Group Portraits; Brady Daguerreotypes; Documents and Treaties; Miscellaneous Views. #932-‐950 Group Commissions, Events, and Group Portraits, 1889-‐1908. Portraits of government groups such as the U.S. Mint employees (1889), Senate Military Affairs Committee (1891), Assistant Secretaries of the Treasury (1901), and the U.S. Delegates to the Pan-‐American Congress (1906); Views of government commissions including the Venezuelan Commission (1896), Samoan Commission (1899), First and Second Philippine Commissions (1899, 1900), Chinese High Commission, Presidential Commission to receive Prince Henry; Views related to the Presidential administration of William McKinley such as his Cabinet (1901), the second inauguration (1901), the Pan-‐American Exposition (including the last photograph of McKinley before he was assassinated at this even in 1901), and, later, a series of the unveiling ceremonies at the McKinley Memorial in Canton, Ohio (1907); Other ceremonial events include the unveiling of the Rochambeau Statue by President Theodore Roosevelt in Lafayette Square (1902), and laying the cornerstone for the Pan American Union Building (1908), also by President Roosevelt. Additional events include the Exchange of Warrents for the Philippines (1899), and the Opening of the 60th U.S. Congress (1907). For large format group portraits and government events refer to Box 13. #999-‐1006 Matthew B. Brady Daguerreotypes from the War Department Collections. Cyanotype copies of Brady daguerreotypes of male sitters, many unidentified, which Johnston made from the originals in the War Department collections. There are identified portraits of Henry Clay, George Custis, John M. Clayton, William L. Dayton, and Winfield Scott. #1007-‐1009 Portraits of Confederacy Officers Cyanotype copies of eighteen portraits in the War Department collections. Six small head-‐and-‐shoulder views are included on each 8x10 inch negative (three in all). All the men are identified. #1010-‐1030 Documents, letters, and treaties from the State Department Archives. A variety of original texts which Johnston photographed (possibly for an article?) including the Articles of Confederation, the Oaths of Allegiance, the Treaty of Paris, Treaty and Seal of George I, Treaty of the War of 1812, C.A. Dana letter, Signature Treaty of the Mexican War, Acts of the 51st Congress, and John Quincy Adams’ passport among other documents, some unidentified. #1031-‐1037 Items related to Abraham Lincoln This series was taken by Johnston to illustrate Ida Tarbell’s book, The Life of Abraham Lincoln . The images include a portrait of Abraham Lincoln and Tad (Meserve 39), Lincoln’s chair and his Bible, documents and products with Lincoln labels. Most of the items were probably in the War Department collections. #1038-‐1048 Miscellaneous photographs This grouping has a series of photographs of the first telephone instruments which, Johnston explains on an index card, were made for Mrs. Bell. There are prints of the Francis E. Spinner Statue, a painting depicting Prince Edward of Wales at the Tomb of [George] Washington, and a group portrait of the survivors of the Johnstown Disaster. Box 10 photCL 352 (1049-‐1132) Legations and Embassies, circa 1890-‐1903. Views of the imposing diplomatic residences of Washington, DC, many of which have been demolished. Most of these images were taken by Johnston for a series of articles that she authored entitled “The Foreign Legations of Washington, Parts 1-‐4” in Demorest’s Family Magazine (April-‐July 1893). There are exterior and interior views of the Austrian, British, and French Embassies as well as the Brazilian, Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Mexican, and Russian Legations. The addresses of the buildings (included in the item-‐level guide) were provided by The Commission of Fine Arts in the 1970s. Box 11 photCL 352 (1133-‐1214) Residences and Interiors, circa 1889-‐1906. The majority of these photographs showcase some of the more elaborate residences in turn-‐of-‐the-‐century Washington, DC. The impressive interiors of the John Wanamaker and William Whitney homes were the subject of articles by Johnston, again for Demorest’s (July-‐December 1890) entitled “Some Homes Under the Administration.” Additionally, there are views of the State Department and Department of Justice interiors, Senator Albert Beveridge’s office, and the residences of Henry Brown, Charles Fairchild, Horace Gray, John Hay, Philander Knox, and photographs of Maytham Hall and Dorchester House, both in England. Maytham Hall was the estate of author Frances Hodgson Burnett, and Johnston took views of th egardens, grounds, and large house in 1906. There are two views of Burnett, author of The Secret Garden among other works, posing in her garden. There are many interior shots of Dorchester House, the American Embassy in London, which Johnston took in 1906. Box 12 photCL 352 (1215-‐1248) Portraiture – Large Format Most of these portraits are printed from glass plate negatives which are 11x14 in. and larger. Included are views of Theodore Roosevelt (1902), a signed and mounted platinum print of Frances Folsom Cleveland, and impressive studio portraits of Julian Pauncefote, Wu T’ing Fang and his wife, Madame Wu. There is also a series of salt prints of illustrious men, many of the prints autographed by the sitters. The images are duplicates of the 8x10 in. portraits listed in the earlier boxes and appear to be a series that Johnston was preparing as a limited edition for sale. Box 13 photCL 352 (1249-‐1276) Group Portraits and Government Events – Large Format Again, these views are printed from Johnston’s 11x14 in. and larger glass plate negatives. This notable grouping included a mounted, platinum print of the Officers of the First National Congress of Mothers, February 1897. This organization was the forerunner of the Parent-‐Teacher Association, and the portrait is autographed by all the sitters. There is an interesting series of cyanotype proofs and platinum prints of Mrs. Cleveland and the Ladies of the Cabinet (#1250-‐1257). Both sittings (January, February 1897) are included and two of the mounted prints are signed by some of the women in attendance. Other items are group views of the first and second McKinley Cabinets; Signing of the Ratification of the Treaty with Spain (1898,1899); Opening Ceremonies of the 59th U.S. Congress (1905). Prepared by J. Watts. November 1994.
|Title||Finding Aid and container lists for the Frances Benjamin Johnston photograph collection.|
|Creator||Johnston, Frances Benjamin, 1864-1952.|
|Extent||12 boxes (1276 photographic prints) : cyanotype, gelatin silver, platinum, daguerreotypes ; 41 x 51 cm. or smaller (16 x 20 in. or smaller). 59 boxes (1217 photonegatives) : glass ; 21 x 26 cm. (8 x 10 in.). 6 boxes (61 photonegatives) : glass ; 28 x 36 and 36 x 44 cm. (11 x 14 in. and 14 x17 in.)|
|Biographical Note||Frances Johnston, born 1864, was a photographer whose career spanned six decades and covered a vast array of topics. She is commonly considered the first female photojournalist and was also a charter member of the Photo-Secession. She was a businesswoman who operated her own Washington, D.C. portrait studio (from 1890) and later, in New York City, a studio devoted to architectural photography (with Mattie Edwards Hewitt, from 1913 to 1917). She mentored other women photographers through public essays and private correspondence and traveled extensively through the United States and abroad, concentrating primarily on architectural and garden photography in her later years. She toured the United States, giving slide lectures on gardens and architecture and contributed to architectural surveys, including two separate collections: The Pictorial Archives of Early Architecture (1930) and the Carnegie Survey of the Architecture of the South (1933-1937). She died in 1952.|
|Scope and Content||The photographs arrived at the Huntington in 1924 when, after persistent negotiations, she sold some 1200 glass plate negatives and her "catalogue set of blue prints" to Henry E. Huntingotn and his library for several thousand dollars.* In her correspondence with the librarian, George Watson Cole, Johnston described the collection as "portraits of famous men and women and historic events...through the administrations of Benj. Harrison, Cleveland, McKinley, Roosevelt and Taft" which she deemed to possess "ultimate historic value and interest." Indeed, this collection of cyanotypes (with some gelatin and finished, platinum prints) focuses largely on the stream of socialites, diplomats, Presidents, senators, reformers, Supreme Court Justices, artists, authors and other important figures who flowed through Johnston's well-appointed studio at the turn-of-the-century. In addition there is an excellent series of views, largely interior shots, of Washington's embassies, legations and famous residences which Johnston photographed for a series of articles in Demorest's Family Magazine.The remainder of the collection is comprised of a sundry group of images including copies of Matthew Brady's daguerreotypes (most unidentified) belonging to the War Department, various treaties and official documents, a set of Abraham Lincoln ephemera intended to illustrate Ida Tarbell's Life of Lincoln and some views of the Bell Telephone. *For more detailed information about the events surrounding this transaction, please refer to an article by Jennifer A. Wattsentitled "The Frances Benjamin Johnston Portrait Collection at the Huntington Library." History of Photography. Vol. 19, No. 3. August 1995,252-262.|
|Notes||Finding aid also available at the Online Archive of California: http://www.oac.cdlib.org/findaid/ark:/13030/tf7199n8qx/admin/#descgrp-1.8.2|
|Provenance||Purchased by Henry Huntington from Frances Johnston, 1924.|
Lincoln, Abraham, 1809-1865 -- Miscellanea.
United States. Supreme Court -- Officials and employees -- Photographs.
United States. Congress. Senate -- Officials and employees -- Photographs.
Confederate States of America. Navy -- Officers -- Photographs.
Confederate States of America. Army -- Officers -- Photographs.
Socialites -- United States -- Photographs.
Diplomats -- United States -- Photographs.
Presidents -- United States -- Photographs.
Legislators -- United States -- Photographs.
Reformers -- United States -- Photographs.
Judges -- United States -- Photographs.
Artists -- United States -- Photographs.
Authors, American -- Photographs.
Diplomatic and consular service -- Washington (D.C.) -- Photographs.
Celebrities -- Homes and haunts -- Washington (D.C.) -- Photographs.
Telephone -- Photographs.
Washington (D.C.) -- Biography -- Portraits.
Washington (D.C.) -- Social life and customs -- 19th century -- Sources.
Washington (D.C.) -- Social life and customs -- 20th century -- Sources.
Photographic prints. (aat)
Gelatin silver prints. (aat)
Platinum prints. (aat)
Johnston, Frances Benjamin, 1864-1952. (photographer)
Brady, Mathew B., ca. 1823-1896. (photographer)
Johnston, Frances Benjamin, 1864-1952. (former owner)
United States. War Dept. (former owner)
United States. Dept. of State. Archives. (former owner)
|Department||Henry E. Huntington Library and Art Gallery. Rare Books Dept. Photo Archives|
|Call Number||photCL 352|
|Accession Number||photCL 352|
|Physical Collection||Frances Benjamin Johnston photograph collection|
|Digital Collection||Finding Aids, Huntington Digital Library|
|Original Finding Aid||Original finding aid and lists created by Jennifer Watts, November, 1994; converted to PDF in May, 2012 by Anita Weaver.|
|Citation Information||[Identification of item], Frances Benjamin Johnston Collection, The Huntington Library, San Marino, California.|
|Restrictions||Images in this collection are for scholarly research; please review the Huntington Library's copyright information: http://cdm16003.contentdm.oclc.org/cdm/about. For purchasing images for publication please review our permission to publish policy: http://www.huntington.org/huntingtonlibrary.aspx?id=590.|