Carnegie Survey of the Architecture of the South (Library of Congress)

General Bragg House, 1906 Springhill Ave, Mobile AL. Photographer: Frances Benjamin Johnston, Image: 1939 Image and original data from Library of Congress, Carnegie Survey of the Architecture of the South Collection

Artstor Digital Library has collaborated with the Library of Congress to share images from the Carnegie Survey of the Architecture of the South collection, a systematic record of early buildings and gardens in the American South.

These documentary photographs were taken by Frances Benjamin Johnston (1864-1952), one of the first American women to become a prominent photographer. Between 1933 and1940, with a grant from the Carnegie Corporation, Johnston photographed buildings and gardens throughout nine Southern states, mainly in Maryland, Virginia, the Carolinas, Georgia, Alabama, and Louisiana, and to a lesser extent in Florida and Mississippi. The Carnegie Survey was an attempt to document the rapidly disappearing antebellum architecture of the American South. In addition to photographing great mansions, Johnston was one of the first photographers to record the vernacular architecture of the region, whether churches, graveyards, row houses, offices, warehouses, mills, shops, farms, taverns, or inns. Johnston's work also captured interiors, furnishings, and architectural details, as well as neglected and endangered buildings.

Around 1890, Frances Benjamin Johnston opened a professional studio in Washington, D.C., embarking on a career as a portrait photographer and freelance photojournalist. In the 1910s, she began to focus on garden and architectural photography. Johnston was one of the first contributors to the Pictorial Archives of Early American Architecture, another collection within the Prints and Photographs Division. As a result of the Carnegie Survey, Johnston published two books, The Early Architecture of North Carolina (1941) and The Early Architecture of Georgia (1957), and was recognized with an honorary membership to the American Institute of Architects in 1945.

This photographic campaign is one of several collections related to Johnston housed in the Prints and Photographs Division of the Library of Congress. Through copyright deposits, gifts of the photographer, and purchases from her estate, the Library amassed the Frances Benjamin Johnston collection, which includes 20,000 photographic prints and 3,700 negatives. Johnston herself deposited approximately 6,800 8x10" black and white negatives from the Carnegie Survey (covering eight states, without Mississippi), before the Library purchased them from her estate in 1953.

Founded in 1800, the Library of Congress is the nation's oldest federal cultural institution and serves as the research arm of the United States Congress. It is the largest library in the world, with more than 134 million items on approximately 530 miles of bookshelves. Within the Prints and Photographs Division alone, there are more than 13.7 million visual images, including photographs, prints, drawings, and posters. Image totals should be regarded as an approximation until a given collection is 100% complete. Users should also bear in mind that the number of images available to them may vary from country to country, reflecting Artstor’s approach to addressing an international copyright landscape that itself varies from country to country.