Vintage: Everyday Life in the U.S by Frances Benjamin Johnston (1900s-1910s)

Vintage: Everyday Life in the U.S by Frances Benjamin Johnston (1900s-1910s)


Frances Benjamin Johnston (1864-1952) was born during the American Civil War. In the 1880s, Johnston studied art in Paris and then returned home to Washington, DC, where she learned photography. She quickly established a national reputation as a professional photographer and businesswoman, with growing success in both the art and commercial worlds.

In the 1890s and early 1900s, as one of the first photojournalists, she provided images to the Bain News Service syndicate and wrote illustrated articles for many magazines.

In the 1910s, Johnston began to specialize in contemporary architecture and landscape photography, working for a time with photographer Mattie Edwards Hewitt in New York City. Here, we selected 30 amazing photographs took by Johnston in the 1900s and 1910s, which featuring everyday life in the United States from the early 20th century.

County fair, tintype booth of Miss. F.B. Johnston, May 1903.

County fair, tintype booth of Miss. F.B. Johnston, May 1903. Photo: Frances Benjamin Johnston

Three male employees, including one African American man, standing behind the bar at the Willard Hotel, between 1901 and 1910.

Three male employees, including one African American man, standing behind the bar at the Willard Hotel, between 1901 and 1910. Photo: Frances Benjamin Johnston

Art class in Georgetown Visitation Preparatory School, Washington, D.C., between 1890 and 1910.

Art class in Georgetown Visitation Preparatory School, Washington, D.C., between 1890 and 1910. Photo: Frances Benjamin Johnston

Gardener pushing lawn mower, posed to illustrate Rudyard Kipling's poem The Glory of the Garden, 1917.

Gardener pushing lawn mower, posed to illustrate Rudyard Kipling’s poem The Glory of the Garden, 1917. Photo: Frances Benjamin Johnston

Courtyard with wagon and team and African American workman, 1917.

Courtyard with wagon and team and African American workman, 1917. Photo: Frances Benjamin Johnston

Classroom at the Indian Industrial School, Carlisle, Pennsylvania, showing teacher observing students reading, between 1901 and 1903.

Classroom at the Indian Industrial School, Carlisle, Pennsylvania, showing teacher observing students reading, between 1901 and 1903. Photo: Frances Benjamin Johnston

Frances Benjamin Johnston seated with three other people in automobile, between 1890 and 1910.

Frances Benjamin Johnston seated with three other people in automobile, between 1890 and 1910. Photo: Frances Benjamin Johnston

Interior view of dining hall, decorated for the holidays, with students sitting at tables at the Tuskegee Institute, ca. 1902.

Interior view of dining hall, decorated for the holidays, with students sitting at tables at the Tuskegee Institute, ca. 1902. Photo: Frances Benjamin Johnston

Three Filipino men demonstrating the craft of working with reeds at the Pan-American Exposition, Buffalo, New York, 1901.

Three Filipino men demonstrating the craft of working with reeds at the Pan-American Exposition, Buffalo, New York, 1901. Photo: Frances Benjamin Johnston

Classroom instruction in art, United States Indian School, Carlisle, Pa., between 1901 and 1903.

Classroom instruction in art, United States Indian School, Carlisle, Pa., between 1901 and 1903. Photo: Frances Benjamin Johnston

Eskimo man, woman, and baby at the Pan-American Exposition, Buffalo, N.Y., 1901.

Eskimo man, woman, and baby at the Pan-American Exposition, Buffalo, N.Y., 1901. Photo: Frances Benjamin Johnston

Tourists and guides picnicking in Yellowstone Park, 1903.

Tourists and guides picnicking in Yellowstone Park, 1903. Photo: Frances Benjamin Johnston

Getting ready to hoist a mounted gun, in Washington Navy Yard, 1903.

Getting ready to hoist a mounted gun, in Washington Navy Yard, 1903. Photo: Frances Benjamin Johnston

Pan-American midway parade, 1901.

Pan-American midway parade, 1901. Photo: Frances Benjamin Johnston

Frances Benjamin Johnston and family on porch and in front of house, between 1890 and 1910.

Frances Benjamin Johnston and family on porch and in front of house, between 1890 and 1910. Photo: Frances Benjamin Johnston

Chemistry laboratory at Tuskegee Institute, ca. 1902.

Chemistry laboratory at Tuskegee Institute, ca. 1902. Photo: Frances Benjamin Johnston

Interior view of chapel filled with female students at the Tuskegee Institute, ca. 1902.

Interior view of chapel filled with female students at the Tuskegee Institute, ca. 1902. Photo: Frances Benjamin Johnston

Mathematics class at Tuskegee Institute, 1906.

Mathematics class at Tuskegee Institute, 1906. Photo: Frances Benjamin Johnston

Library interior at Tuskegee Institute, 1906.

Library interior at Tuskegee Institute, 1906. Photo: Frances Benjamin Johnston


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