Fannie Johnston is tied to SO MANY people and events that we have talked about on the show before. She’s like a history nexus point. And she was able to make a very nice living for herself as a photographer in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
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This is an unofficial transcript meant for reference. Accuracy is not guaranteed.
This message is brought to you by eighty homes. Security made easy. What does real protection mean for your home and business? It means the latest innovation and smart home security combined or twenty four seven monitoring from eighteen, the most trusted name and home security. You get a team of professionals designing and installing a secure, smart home. Just for you, you get eighteen thousand employees, safeguarding you with connection to first responders. You get the nations number one: smart, home security provider. You get a secure, smart home with everything from video doorbells indoor, an outdoor cameras, smart locks on lights, controlled from the eighty app or from the sound of your voice. You
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spiral off and start seeing other things that are vaguely related to the topic of that show that you really want to do an episode on. It happens to us all the time, and sometimes I can put those off for a while and I'm like. I don't feel like a burning need, like I got to do this now, but I don't know why this one not the same deal. I wanted to do it right away. So, while I was working on our recent live show that we did about Spirit Photography,
stumbled across a whole bunch of other interesting photographers from history that I wanted to talk about. But this one in particular, really stood out initially. It was because of a very striking and really fun self portrait that she made the late eighteen, Hundreds
But here is what really struck me about today's topic: Fanny Johnston and her work. She is tied to so many people and events that we have talked about on the show before this is kind of like a history, nexus point she's, really
well connected, and she was able to make a very nice living for herself ass, a photographer China very long career that spans the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. So
was born, France's Benjamin Johnston on January fifteenth, eighteen, sixty four parents were frances
Antoinette Benjamin and Anderson Donovan Johnston, she's born engrafted West Virginia Budge
and move to, ratify or New York when Fanny was still very young, so they could be nearer to her maternal grandmother by them at eighteen, Seventys the job.
since had moved to Washington D C.
Anderson was working at the Treasury Department is a bookkeeper and fannys mother. Francis was a journalist. She wrote for the Baltimore Sun and other Deasey area newspapers, the just Israelis
ordered Fanny, they encourage her to study art when she showed an interest in it. She was in a position of really rare privilege for a young woman of her era. Her family could afford
to support her while she studied- and they were a hundred percent willing to just let her figure out her own path in her own desires. Doesn't
appear at any point in time. They were like. Are you going to get married or you going to find a husband? Are you going to be a mop? They really were like great GO study art wherever you want
in eighteen, eighty three fanny graduated from Notre Dame of Maryland Collegiate Institute for Young Ladys and, after her undergraduate work, she travelled to Paris to attend the Academy Juliet where she studied art, particularly drawing and painting he's been several years in Paris and then returned home to Washington DC in eighteen. Eighty five,
if you join the art students League, which is an organisation that offered ongoing development as well as studio space and a sense of community funding
started working in journalism first as an illustrator for new stories, but sometime in the late 1880s you'll sometimes see it listed as one thousand eight hundred and eighty eight family discover the field that would become her life's passion, and that was photography.
She started studying photography at the Smithsonian institution under the mentorship of Thomas Smelly, who was a scottish american photographer who served as the Smithsonian's first staff photographer and first photography curator and that first care ass. She owned came from George Eastman of Eastman Kodak mistrust
how that happened is a little bit. Fuzzy fanny would help people later in her life that she wrote to Eastman asking some questions about the camera
sent her one is a gift more
likely than not she had connections to the EU, spends through her mother's side of a family. Yes, she kind of like to tell it almost as though she was a random anonymous person, just male, sending him a letter and asking some questions and that he generously sent this back, but it does seem, especially because the Eastman family was also from Rochester that they were somehow connected to her mother sign. Fannys formal. Our training was something that informed her work with a camera and gave her something of a head start in that field compared to other photographers chosen was very aware of this and a little bit proud of it. She had a sense of composition and light value that really enabled her to frame incredibly beautiful photos through her lens
Parisian training also gave her a degree of cachet and esteem that, along with her connections through smelly and her family, put her on really good footing to start her career. She started that career right away, now long,
you're starting. Her study with smelly Fanny also started working as a professional freelance photographer by eighteen. Eighty nine. She was publishing her own articles with full photographic illustration for publication.
Cosmopolitan Harpers weakly and a lot of other periodicals. The
Most of these was the peace called Uncle SAM's money that ran and Democrats family magazine, and it showed them
process of producing currency, including both coins and bills.
Its he may be. Ninety one Fanny Johnston had her first show mounting and exhibit at the Washington DC venue, the Cosmos Club, which was quote a private social club for women and men, distinguished in science, literature, the arts, a learned, profession or public service, which is found.
in eighteen, seventy eight and still exist. Today.
She soon started having showings of her work in New York City as well. In eighty
eighty two and eighty, maybe three family was one of the official photographers of the world's colombian exhibition in Chicago, while Fanny continued her freelance journalism, photography and the MID eighteen nineties. She also opened her own photography, studio
studio she set up specifically to take portraits and it was behind her parents house on the street in Washington DC. It was real,
portrait commissions that made up the bulk of her income for years
Family was well connected in that meant that the high society of Washington DC, which included some very powerful people, would go to her. For that
actions and turn FED her journalism career. She got great assignments from editors. He knew that she could get access to people that the average photographer might not be able to hear this
it's kind of a good example of like how a position
the privilege can really help someone, oh yeah, when we're not conscious of it. It really was the case for leg.
Her families positioning and how many people they knew and how many people like them we're feed.
Both sides of her career, like one to the other in the least,
eighty, nine, these family work for George grant them Bain, who was a photographer who had started the Bane NEWS service, which was a photo syndicate that Sir
periodicals throughout the country. I have seen the numbers as more than fourteen of like the major newspapers in the country, reusing photos from his service
family also gained access to the White House around this time is a regular photographer. That was a job she initially got on assignment through demo.
She took photos in the White House beginning in the Benjamin Harrison Presidency, and she continued to sign once they are right up through the Theodore Roosevelt Administration coming up we'll talk about some of Fanny's, most famous photographs, which are self portraits, but first we will pause for a quick sponsor break.
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As we mention before, the break sum of Johnston's most famous photographs were taken during the eighteen nineties, and these were self portraits, showing her in a variety of different guises. Em. They served as an interesting commentary on the way women were seen and how they perceived themselves, as the victorian era came to a close, since also one of these portraits that caught my eye initially, when I stumbled across her in one
a portrait. She looks every bit the society lady she's, posing in a fur and a wide brimmed hat.
trimmed with ribbon and several ostrich plumes and her elbow rests on the arm of the chair that she sitting in her gloved hand, sort of reaches up to her face with her in
His finger resting on her jaw and the rest of her fingers tucked under
her chin in another
photo, which is quite famous she's, very unladylike for the time period. She sits in for
a fire on what looks like a box. Her.
ankle is crossed over. Her left me said that reveals her petticoat stockings she's.
Being a plaid blouse with leg of mutton, sleeves and a dark cap on her head. Her right,
elbow its balance on our right knee and she's leaned forward at an angle. To do this, she has said
at and her right hand and
her left hand, which is that her hip. She have a beer stein. She appears
we deeply interested in something to the left of the frame from the viewers angle, and there are six photographic portrait
on the mantel behind her all featuring male subjects,
she titled. This photo new woman. It's the striking self portrait, the Holly reference to back at the top of the show you. I really love that picture me to you. It's one of those things that its
staged obviously because its self portrait, but it she so good. Added that it does look like you, ve kind of
Someone in the middle of a moment where there completely unconscious them. Then they look. She looks like she is super engaged or something like she's leaned way forward. It looks like she may be about to
say something here too
someone off. It's really great photo
I am very much not appropriate for a lady of the day. She also made several portraits in which she is gender, bending fully dressed in men's. Where and sporting a false moustache and in
the portraits where she's dressed as a man, another woman appears who is also addressed in the same style, full men's where, with a moustache and a third woman in more traditional Ladys wherefore, the period also appears in those pictures. So these and other self portraits, including one in which he's going about her work in the studio
A unique spectrum of identities for one woman and its possible that her chameleon, like nature, was helping her make her way.
Fashion that was really dominated by men, men. She succeed
in this field, in spite of it being so dominated by men,
clearly understood the social rules. Regarding the expectations of dress and behaviour for women, she was
so comfortable, stepping way outside those boundaries, yeah
that's one of those things that I think most children that had not been borne the privilege of having parents going yes explore yourself would never have gotten to that level of confidence where they would be able to do those things.
critically in this era
surprisingly, Johnston was out spoken about the need for women to redefine their options and their identities outside of the pre defined rules of mother wife in homemaker.
In eighteen, eighty seven she wrote an article four, the Ladys Home Journal, which was titled what a woman can do with a camera, and this article urged women to consider photography as a profession and a means to support themselves. The article opens with quote in order to solve successfully the problem of making a business profitable the women who either
or will earn her own living needs to discover a field of work for which there is a good demand and which there
it's not too great competition and which,
Individual tastes render in some way congenial
she goes on some internet for some women, that quote restricted fields of type writings, Phonography, corking, bookkeeping et Cetera, would prove where
and uncongenial to them. Family also listed the qualities that she believed were necessary for successive photography in those included
common sense, unlimited patients to carry her through endless failures.
equally unlimited tact, good taste, a quick eye, a talent for detail and a genius for hard work Shiva
a woman who was hard working and energetic could find success, and that quote, small beginnings could reap large results. Since article is not a bunch of cheerful fluff about how all you need is determination, Fanny really broke down exactly how the industry worked and
fields were good for beginners portrait
She felt were best saved for when you got more experience but taking pictures of homes, animals and children. Outdoors
staging photographic, copies of paintings we're all good play
As for beginners to make some money- and she really made the point that while someone wanting to go into the field could get training for taking photos,
running a business was a whole. Other skill set choose very clear about this and she thought it was best learned through experience. She also felt that professional photographers had to say on top of the latest advancement of the art. She then included practical information about cameras and lenses and tips for taking photos to her.
A new Comer get started. Singing leads by insisting that women have to charge an appropriate amount for their work, quote good
work should command good prices and the wise woman will place a paying value upon her best efforts. She explained
this is really where attacked as necessary and remain steadfast threw out that photography is the perfect career for an ambitious woman. I feel
The good work should command good prices should be like still today framed and hung everywhere. I walked up yet she was not one of those our work for exposure, women, those very savvy it was like
I made this art for you. You will pay me now
article appeared and Ladys Home Journal in September of eighteen may be seven, and it was much talked about even a year later, the same article was quoted almost entirely in another article, this when appearing in the periodical, the photo beacon, which is, of course, an aim towards photographers an
This adoration of it makes clear that families advice is good for not just women, but all photographers, in
October, one thousand eight hundred and ninety eight volume in which it appears that states quotes her counsel on the management and arrangement of a portrait studio on the treatment of sitters, and
business side of photography is so sound, and so on
play Cabal, not only to those who are about to enter professional life, but also to those who are already in business that we reprint it in full. As an interesting side note, as we consider Johnston's writing, which is full,
ideas of empowerment for women, Jonathan.
in a fight as both humane and not as any kind of activists from the suffrage movement or anything else that was related specifically to the rights of women. Obviously
you don't mean bohemian in the sense of someone from Bohemia or in the more pejorative connotation that it took on. For a while and connection
with the Romani
fanny, was using it in that romanticized sense that tied it too.
Unconventional artists and that you
they came into popularity in the mid nineteenth century, with the staging of the play. Lovely, reliable em in Paris, which was an
Adaptation of the on Rima Gay novel send a levied a level em and coming
we're going to talk about an event that has been feature it many times on the show
up over and over because it too was an excess point in history or gonna. Get to that right after we first have a sponsor break.
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The nineteen hundred exposition, our universe cell in Paris, has come up a number of times on the show,
feel like everybody who is anybody in nineteen hundred has in Paris for that that show- and here it is again Fanny Johnston, attended and entered a number of photographs into competition there. She went to gold medal for a series of photo. She took of public schools in the Washington DC area and she also to come a grand prize for her series of photos of the Hampton Normal and Agricultural institute. So these photos overtime have become the focus of heated discussion because they show black and native american students really through a white, victorian lens. I we ve talked about some folks that studied at that school and the pike ass before
in the context of their era. These images, which were commissioned by the school, were intended to show european audiences that the United States was progressive in its educational systems, which were integrating blackened native american students into white society. But that means
dripping them of their own culture in the process
deeply flawed ideology. It's like I said something that
come up on the show before that mindset, in addition to the Hampton Normal School specifically, and if you want a really dig him to these pictures and how they ve been perceived over the years. There is a really interesting analysis of these photos and how they ve been viewed at three different times when they ve been on display that that
Article came out in the summer of two thousand: eight innovation,
the history of photography. We will have a link to it in the show notes, but the abbreviated version is that at the one thousand nine hundred Paris exhibition, they were just as we mentioned, a sort of self congratulatory promotional material,
Second exhibition mounted the Museum of Modern ART in nineteen. Sixty six tried to de contextual eyes them from any discussion of race and just
read the photos simply as art, which is very problematic in its own way, and in two thousand and eight Williams. College Museum of our exhibition mounted by contemporary art is carry, may whims, focus
on the controversial nature of the photos and their history and the nature of racism in education and how it is perceived both from the White perspective and from the blackened native american perspective. While the nineteen hundred Paris exhibition was going on, Paris was the host city for a concurrently running about which was the international Congress of Photography for
gathering fanny, ensured that the matter of women in the field was up for discussion. She put together an exhibition of art photos by women and also lectured on the topic of women in photography. Yeah I had read
description of it that she had put together this exhibition. She was one of only two women that actually were there, but she had arranged really at Lake Great personal effort to have the work of women, both novices and professionals exhibited at the show, and that those crates full of photographs arrived before her and the
people there that were prepping. It could not wait for her because they were really curious. What this collection of women's photos looked like, so they had already opened all of the crates when she got there just because they wanted to see them. There was such a great, so
curiosity about how this whole thing was gonna work and what this idea of women in photography was
in September. Nineteen o one president, William Mckinley was photographed by Fanny at the PAN American Exposition
We have talked about this on another reason episode. This was the last photo that was ever taken of Mc Kinley because he was shot the next day and then died some days later and ninety
five Fanny story links up with another past podcast subject, which is the loom brothers as
and made her way around Europe. That year, she stopped in France to visit with them, and she got up to speed on the color photo process they developed. She also take some charming photos of their father and one loom year.
Including one in which his painting other means portrait. I dont know why. I really love these pictures. They're, just very sweet he's, just like a sweet french elderly MA am in one he's like out in a vineyard. Looking around hunt him. Another is just painting he sees very relaxed. I just left
pictures for some reason in one thousand, nine hundred and nine Fannie was hired for a job that ended up shifting her career away from poor creature in into new subject matter
At that point, she was hired by John M career to take architectural photos of the new theatre in New York
this point Johnston was also growing a little tired of portraiture. She felt like it had become too stressful and the field was very competitive, and so she didn't really feel like she had the freedom to get any sort of artistic fulfilment from it any longer, and so architecture was kind of a nice change of pace after the new theatre, Fanny also started exploring other photography opportunities outside of working with people, s her subjects,
He turned her eye and lens to gardens.
From nineteen. Ten on her work is very garden focus. She gave lectures about them. She researched historic gardens. She,
innumerable photos of them well into the nineteen thirties as part of her on.
an interesting gardening in architecture. She had a studio in New York from nineteen thirteen to nineteen seventeen and that special
ized and garden and home photography you're those lecture she gave she made these incredible glass plate, slides for them that she has tinted
there really incredibly beautiful one of the articles in our our show notes is the Smithsonian article where they talk about them, so you're interested in that check it out
but that photography Studio the Tracy just mentioned was shared with another photographer and
her partner in it Mattie Edwards, Hugh it and the two women had met at the PAN American exposition in Buffalo New York in one thousand one phase
of course, was already pretty well beyond that point. She was essentially a famous photographer and the two women became both colleagues and close friends. At that point, Hewetts Husband was of target for and she was helping him, but she wanted to transition to doing more. Photography, work, herself and Hewett was eventually entrusted by Johnston with the development of her photos, and there has been a lot of speculation over the nature of Fanny enmities relationship over the years
Two women exchange letters almost from the moment that they met and matters in particular Madoff. There are more of them off.
Include language about just how deeply she loves fanny and how she dares not hope that Fanny loves her back.
colluding passages. Like quote, I am not foolish enough to expect you to love me in this way only
so sweet and met so very much that I could not but tell it over and over there
The who believe that Hewetts words were not unusual in tone for women of the early nineteenth hundreds, something we discussed a whole lot of time on the show that the correspondence of women is often much more sort of romantic in nature, not necessarily always indicating that there is a romantic relationship, but just
an emotional closeness
but in this case it really really does sound like Mary was definitely romantically in love with Fani. I will say we have more than her letters and we'll talk about why in a minute, but were at work,
It is clear up fannys feelings in return there, so in nineteen o nine, when Mattie Edward Seaward divorced her husband, she moved to New York with Fanny the same year. Fanny started focusing her lens on architectural subjects for ninety
Thirteen to nineteen seventeen, both women became well known for their work and architectural photography. This partnership
severed and nineteen seventeen. The two women had a falling out. He went by
Bout Johnson's interests in the business for five hundred dollars, both of
continued to have successful careers independently. After this point, thanks to all the connections that they had made while running their joint studio. Yeah
Fanny kept Maggie's letters, but it does
appear that as many of families, letters to Maggie were preserved. So
why it's, we don't have an abundance of quotes from her on her feelings on the matter and were kind of having to fill in some blanks. Their families were
had often had a documentary quality at this point because she was working in gardens and architecture, but starting in the nineteen twenties
came and even more prominent part of her work when she started a project that would go on for more than seventeen years Johnson,
and started systematically photographing and documenting early american buildings in gardens, and this all started when Fanny was contracted to photographed the Chatham Estate in Virginia as well as Fredericksburg, an old Falmouth, and that effort
for two years and when it was done faintly decided that she wanted to continue to use her camera to document historic buildings and how
preserve the architectural history of the? U S she started exhibiting her architectural photos in nineteen thirty started the pictorial archives of early american architecture at the Library of Congress.
In nineteen thirty three, the Carnegie Corporation started issuing a series of grants.
some of them over the course of a few years to keep that project going and expand its scope
one thousand nine hundred and twenty seven to nineteen. Forty four. She took thousands of photos of more than one thousand seven hundred sites across nine states,
Virginia Maryland, North and South Carolina Florida, Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana and Mississippi, and she didn't only capture Grand mentions an impeccable historic gardens, although those were in their for sure. She also made a concerted effort to get images of buildings and spaces that did not get the benefit of constant maintenance and care, as she sort of saw their fragility in the face of neglect and the sizeable collection that she amassed eventually came to be known as the Carnegie Survey of the architecture of the south, and that remains in the collection of the Library of Congress. During this time, pennies work was also published in several books, says, but a graphic illustrations to the text, and I
in thirty, she contributed to colonial churches and Virginia with text by Henry Brok and
In thirty, eight plantations of the Carolina low country written by Samuel G Stony came out with Benes photos in it in eighteen, forty one, her work got top billing for early architecture of North Carolina Pictorial Survey by Francis Benjamin Johnston,
polluted and an architectural history written by Thomas Waterman, you
Samuel. She is listed as the author of that book,
Photographic survey of the south. She been working. I was completed family moved away from Washington DC to this house. She made a new home for herself and her too,
its named Herman Vermin, which I find quite charming in New Orleans Louisiana starting in nineteen forty five,
by one thousand nine hundred and forty six. She had found her permanent home in the city at one thousand, one hundred and thirty, two bourbon street. That is just a block away from the Wellery Mansion in the
quarter. I think there,
people who would argue about whether Washington DC as also the south, but New Orleans is definitely much farther south covered
deeper south for sure the theme
this move was planted when Johnson was doing her field work for this survey in nineteen thirty seven, while taking photographs in Louisiana, she told her a porter that New Orleans surpassed. Other cities quote in rare beauty of iron work about door and indoor, arts and crafts and romance of aspect and spirit of carrot.
and charm that are unique in America, she fell in love some. I can't blame her because I sure do a door. That's his. He made us at
It is really pretty and during the same period that she had moved and she was kind of into retirement, Johnston was inducted into the American Institute of Architects as an honorary member for the
did she had done for so many years in preserving the record of architectural history with her photographs entered
having AIDS Fanny, who had a career that spans six decades spoke of her
and almost a cavalier manner as though it was just I'll, effortless guess, work and good luck on her part, which is very
funding for me
had been known to be utterly meticulous and setting up shots in creative staging techniques, to capture images and her own unique way. She also kept him
particular notes. While she was in the field as a journalist, including her personal thoughts and feelings dried alongside the more technical notes that were related to her photos on me,
sixteen nineteen. Fifty two family, Benjamin Johnston, dyed her body was,
and supported to Washington DC for burial in Rock Creek park. Cemetery in nineteen. Fifty three, her remaining papers and documents were sold to the Library of Congress over the course.
for career. She had photograph five. U S president's as well as Booker T Washington, Andrew Carnegie Mark,
Wayne and dozens of other prominent people. She was also the wedding photographer for former podcast subject: Alice, Roosevelt and nineteen o six yet, and I will say those are very beautiful. Portraits of she really was extraordinarily get at her job. She also photographs use would be Anthony late, mere life, which is a very interesting profile photograph and again it
strikes me as slightly interesting, but she was not particularly interested. It seemed Emma, thus suffrage movement in terms of being an active participant but took very beautiful picture, wanted
people deeply associated with it. That is fairly Johnston, who I find
fascinating in a variety of ways, her photographs. I could look out for ever
as they really are quite interesting,
I have two pieces of listener mail and they are unrelated, except they both came from Hawaii, which, like New Orleans, is another place that I deeply in love with the four
I cannot make out the name. It starts, I think, with a j it could be June or Julie so little bit
rights, Aloha, Holly and Tracy. I just thought you might enjoy this Disney Hawaii postcard made from cocoa would love the show and glad it's appropriate for my two young history, buffs would love more hawaiian content with a low ha and it's a cute little ash, as it said wooden posts,
from Aloni, which is the Disney resort Oahu its
sweet. I love it. This
get one is from our listeners, Christina Todd and they sent a parcel, and it excited me here. I allow Holly and Tracy, and my husband- and I listened to the episode on the history of vodka some time ago and have been meaning to send this to you like Holly Vodka is my spirit of choice, so I really enjoyed this episode will have on Maui and have to distilleries on the island. Both are delicious. In my opinion, we have sent you some to try, along with a few other goodies fun fact, though,
power, which is the name of one of the Vikas, means finished or done in Hawaiian. So when you finish, recording you can pow Hannah, which means Lake. That's.
The time when you relax after you're done working so Christian and Todd sent us two kinds of vodka. One from POW and another called ocean wishes inorganic organic vodka that I have tried before when I was in Hawaii and I
deeply thankful and everyone in the office was wildly jealous, as I opened that particular part. So Tracy next time here in the office, will have to make a little cocktail at the end of the day and enjoy the bounties of Christian and Todd's generosity, and also just again, I love love hearing from our listeners dismissed
it s a place that I have not been in the world
I'm kind of longing to get back to severely soon ugly man, who is the best. Thank you so much it is so sweet. I we say it all the time, I'm sorry! If you're, tired of hearing it every time we get gifts from people, I'm just kind of blown away in its very humbling and moving, because I don't
the time to send things to people I know and love, and that I am like related to so it is really very meaningful and something I'm very deeply thankful for. So thank you. Thank you. Thank you again. If you would like to write to us who do so at history, Pike Ass to house works. Dot com were also everywhere and social media. As Mr History and our website is missed in history, dot com you can subscribe to the show we would love for you to do that. You can do that, and I heard you up at Apple
Casper, wherever that is you, listen stuffy less than history, glasses of production of Iheart radios. How stuff works for more upon casts for my how radio visit thy heart, radio, apple, tat guests or wherever you listen to your favorite, shows
I'm sorry to each time a man feels hey there. I'm Bellamy Young and today I'm gonna talk about what I wore when I audition for scandal welcomes what I why, when the production of glamour- and I heard radio, I'm your host Perry Somerton each week, I'm sitting down with a woman, I find fascinating to talk about what she wore during a pivotal moment in her life. Listen to what I wore when, on the eye, radio, app apple pod casts or wherever you get. Your part guests.