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November 21, 2016

38 Amazing Vintage Photos That Document U.S. Classroom Scenes From the Late 1800s to the Early 1900s

Frances Benjamin Johnston (1864-1952) was born during the American Civil War. Her 60-year career as a photographer began with portrait, news, and documentary work then turned to a focus on contemporary architecture and gardens, culminating in a survey of historic buildings in the southern United States.

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.

Johnston counted presidents, diplomats, and other government officials among her portrait clients, while in her personal life she travelled in more Bohemian circles.

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. Her active roles in pictorialist photo exhibitions and world’s fairs reflect her high level of energy and determination as well as her exceptional photographic talent.

An interest in progressive education resulted in pioneering projects to document students at public schools in Washington, DC; the Tuskegee Institute in Alabama; the Hampton Institute in Virginia; and the Carlisle Indian Industrial School in Pennsylvania.

Thanksgiving Day lesson at Whittier, 1899-1900

Outdoor class in botany, Washington, DC, ca. 1899

Students of 8th Division school using rulers, yardsticks, and measuring tape in school yard, Washington, DC, ca. 1899

Two girls and a boy pumping water at well of Hampton Institute graduate, 1899-1900

Women painting at easels in a class at the Art Students' League, Washington, DC, 1889

Group of public school children offering peanuts to animals in the National Zoo, Washington, DC, ca. 1899

Isadora Duncan's dance students, early 1900s

Machine shop class, Washington, DC, ca. 1899

Art class, sketching ducks at zoo, Normal school, ca. 1899

Hampton Institute, Hampton, Va., ca. 1898 - 11 students in uniform playing guitars, banjos, mandolins, and cello

Louis Firetail (Sioux, Crow Creek), wearing tribal clothing, giving a presentation in an American history class, Hampton Institute, Hampton, Virginia, 1899-1900

6th Division mathematics class on a street paving problem, ca. 1899

A class at the zoo - the bird cage, ca. 1899

A class in dressmaking, Hampton Institute, Hampton, Virginia, 1899

Art class with live model, Normal School, Washington, DC, ca. 1899

Classroom scenes in Washington, D.C. public schools - outdoor exercise with rods - 3rd Division, ca. 1899

History class at the Tuskegee Institute

School children on a field trip

School children conducting simple experiments, Washington, DC, 1899

School children examining wild flowers on field trip, Washington, DC, 1899

School children learning a dance in a school yard, Washington, DC, 1899

School children measuring and sketching at a stone building, Washington, DC, 1899

Schoolgirls doing calisthenics

Cooking class

Elementary school class on Native American Culture

Female students exercising with dumbbells, Western High School, Washington, DC, 1899

Geography class at the Hampton Institute

Girls in a science laboratory at Eastern High School, Washington, DC, 1899

Girls on the playground, 1899

2nd Division grade school pupils examining a mailbox

6 girls in art class, drawing at easels, Eastern High School, Washington, DC, 1899

Academie Julian, Paris, group of art students, 1885

African American children and teacher in classroom studying corn and cotton, Annie Davis School, near Tuskegee, Alabama, 1902

African American schoolgirls with teacher, learning to cook on a wood stove in classroom, 1899

American Indian and African American students at Hampton Institute, men and women in chemistry lab, 1899

American Indian and African American students at Hampton Institute, women studying human respiratory system, 1899

Art class

Class of the Sixth Division at the Library of Congress, 1899


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