Frances “Fannie” Benjamin Johnston was one of the first American female photojournalists and photographers.

On Thursday, Oct. 7 at 4 p.m. Johnston – or rather Cathy Pleska will be giving a History Alive! performance – will speak to students at West Virginia University’s Honors College. The presentation will take place in the multipurpose room of Honors Hall.

Johnston was born to wealthy, well-connected parents in Grafton, W.Va. But, she spent the majority of her youth in Washington, D.C.

She photographed many significant historical events, works of architecture and individuals including Mark Twain, Booker T. Washington, Susan B. Anthony, and presidents William McKinley, Franklin Roosevelt and William Howard Taft. Johnston’s work in photojournalism helped remove barriers to women in the field. The Library of Congress stores thousands of Johnston’s writings and more than 25,000 of her photographs.

This West Virginia Humanities Council program is being hosted by the WVU Honors College and is supported in part by the Office of the Secretary of the West Virginia Department of Education and the Arts.

The West Virginia Humanities Council is a private, not-for-profit organization dedicated to providing educational programs in the humanities for all West Virginians. For over 30 years, the council has been providing educational programs in the humanities across the state.

For more information about The History Alive! Program or The West Virginia Humanities Council, call the council at 304-346-8500 or visit



CONTACT: Marie Leichliter, Honors College