SHORPY Historic Photo Archive & Fine-Art Prints
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Our holdings include hundreds of glass and film negatives/transparencies that we've scanned ourselves; in addition, many other photos on this site were extracted from reference images (high-resolution tiffs) in the Library of Congress research archive. (To query the database click here.) They are adjusted, restored and reworked by your webmaster in accordance with his aesthetic sensibilities before being downsized and turned into the jpegs you see here. All of these images (including "derivative works") are protected by copyright laws of the United States and other jurisdictions and may not be sold, reproduced or otherwise used for commercial purposes without permission.

© 2019 SHORPY INC.

[REV 25-NOV-2014]

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New Woman: 1896

New Woman: 1896

        Frances Benjamin Johnston (1864-1952), best known on these pages as a prolific chronicler of Southern architecture, was also something of a feminist firebrand in her younger years. The photographer is seen here at age 32 in a triple-threat sendup of the 1890s "New Woman" -- smoking, drinking, showing some leg.

Self-Portrait as "New Woman," 1896. "Frances Benjamin Johnston, seated in front of fireplace, facing left, holding cigarette in one hand and beer stein in the other, in her Washington, D.C., studio." Gelatin silver print. View full size.

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Sweetly risque

I just looked through a pile of photos of my relatives from around the turn of the 20th century and this photo isn't so unusual. Young women could cause quite a ruckus back in the day. I love her witchy looking shoes and odd little hat, plus the irony of a row of men lined up above her.

Photographic Memory

The left-most photo on the mantlepiece appears to be the Canadian poet and writer Bliss Carman - he was born in 1861 and died in 1929. There are couple of other photos extant where he is dressed in what might be the same coat, etc. Perhaps this will narrow the window of discovery a bit.

Interesting Works of Art

As one might expect from someone with an eye for photography, it is apparent that Ms. Johnston also had an eye for selecting art for her home.

Check out the apparently Native American canteen jug hanging by the fireplace, the perfectly proportioned hand-thrown water jug on the floor, the amphora-like jug on the table, and the more Victorian vase on the mantle.

But, the absolute prize is her gargoyle candle luminaire! He's got HORNS on his (her?) head!

Unconventional must have been her watchword!

Long in the Leg

She may be showing some leg, but the figurine waiter/waitress behind her is showing a heck of a lot more leg.

SHORPY OLD PHOTO ARCHIVE | History in HD is a vintage photo archive featuring thousands of high-definition images from the 1850s to 1960s. (Available as fine-art prints from the Shorpy Archive.) The site is named after Shorpy Higginbotham, a teenage coal miner who lived 100 years ago.

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