Jessica Johnston's Posts

Jessica Johnston is an Assistant Curator in the Department of Photographs at George Eastman House. She manages numerous exhibitions and projects at the museum including our recent participation on the Flickr Commons.

Happy Birthday, Gertrude Käsebier!

Posted by on May 20 2013 | Photography

complete article on our photography blog, DODGE & BURN. 

Gertrude Käsebier (American, 1852-1934) , Dancing School, ca. 1905, gum bichromate print, gifts of Hermime Turner

Gertrude Käsebier (American, 1852-1934) , Dancing School, ca. 1905, gum bichromate print, gifts of Hermime Turner


Gertrude Käsebier was born in 1852 in Des Moines, Iowa, daughter of John and Muncy Stanton. When she was still very young, Käsebier moved to Colorado where her father eventually became owner of a gold mine in Leadville. The trip across the plains by covered wagon and the frontier life near Indians sparked the imagination and adventuresome personality of Käsebier…[MORE]




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Franklin D. Roosevelt at Thanksgiving

Posted by on Nov 19 2012 | Photography

Margaret Bourke-White (American, 1904-1971) Franklin D. Roosevelt at Thanksgiving Day Dinner, Warm Springs 1938 gelatin silver print Museum Collection Copyright Time-Life


Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays because it brings together three things I love—Food, Family and Friends. This year I will be in Santa Barbara celebrating with my dad who always throws a great party peopled with an eccentric group of his friends, many of whom I have known for most of my life. It is sure to be a fun gathering with lots of delicious food, interesting conversation and much laughter.
Looking through Eastman House’s Thanksgiving-related photographs, I was delighted to find this print by Margaret Bourke-White. In 1938, while on assignment for Life Magazine, Bourke-White followed President Franklin Delano Roosevelt to the Warm Springs Foundation, a treatment center for people afflicted with polio. I thought it was a particularly fitting image to share this Thanksgiving since one of my dad’s favorite stories involves the time he met FDR at Warm Springs. My dad grew up in Ann Arbor, Michigan and the year he turned nine, while at summer camp, he contracted polio. He was lucky that doctors and nurses at the University of Michigan Medical Center, where he received care and where my grandparents both worked, were able to stop the disease from spreading, leaving only his left arm paralyzed.

Traditionally, FDR hosted an annual Thanksgiving dinner at Warm Springs but in 1940 they had to postpone the feast because World War II was heating up and Roosevelt was unable to attend. Ever dedicated to Warm Springs and the patients it served, FDR hosted the dinner in December of that year and my nine year old dad was present for the festivities. While he did not end up at the president’s table, my dad remembers with awe and fondness how, after the dinner, with the aid of his ivory handled cane, FDR stood and shook the hand of every person leaving the dining room. I am personally thankful for the inspiration FDR gave to my dad, who was struggling to overcome a frightening experience with a debilitating disease, and I am sure that one of the toasts this year at our Thanksgiving table will include a nod of thanks to Franklin Delano Roosevelt.


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Happy Birthday X-ray!

Posted by on Nov 08 2010 | Other

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In the Garden with Beaumont

Posted by on May 14 2010 | Other

Eastman House is holding its annual plant sale tomorrow, which reminds me of some photographs a colleague shared with me recently.  The images show renowned Eastman House Curator and Director, Beaumont Newhall standing on the grounds of Eastman House, amongst some gorgeous tree peony specimens.

The images reveal the East Garden before it was restored to Mr. Eastman’s original design. During the restoration this spectacular row of tree peonies were dug up and donated to the Rochester City Parks Department. I hear that some of them may have ended up in Highland Park, and I just  might go looking for them! In the meantime, I will be at the plant sale tomorrow, where I am planning to buy a tree peony of my own.

Color slides, around 1962, by William Gratwick, an artist and tree peony hybrizer, who was a good friend of Newhall and the museum.  Images courtesy Roger Bruce.

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Winter aconites are blooming!

Posted by on Mar 08 2010 | Other

Spring must be on its way!  When I arrived at work this morning the snow had melted to reveal a carpet of sweet Winter aconites!  Thanks to the Museum Photographer for recording the first sign of spring 2010 at George Eastman House.

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