James Benney Photographs

What's online?

The James Benney III online collection contains images from circa 1888-1989 depicting homes, churches, buildings, and street scenes. Images were selected that show diverse scenes of daily life of ordinary people, including both urban scenes of downtown Pittsburgh and the rural residential areas of the Emsworth community and Pittsburgh's East End neighborhood.

What's in the entire collection?

The collection, held by the Library & Archives at the Senator John Heinz History Center, comprises 100 images taken around 1889 by James Benney. A note on the back of one of the photographs in the collection states, "James Benney 1889 taker of the pictures Third generation of James Benney's."

About James Benney III

James Benney III was the son of James and Ann Friend Benney. Before 1889, the only person appearing in the Pittsburgh and Allegheny City directories with the name of James Benney was one James W. Benney, the librarian for the Public Schools in the City of Allegheny. Research has shown that James W. Benney was the second person to hold the librarian position in that school system (the first librarian being C. W. Benney, the father of James W.). Although no clear relationship between James Benney III and James W. Benney exists, it is possible that James W. is the grandfather of the photographer.

James Benney and James Benney, Jr. appear for the first time in the 1889 city directory as living at 78 Cedar Avenue in Allegheny City. Both father and son shared an office at 543 Wood Street in downtown Pittsburgh. James (the senior) is listed as a civil engineer and James Jr. as an iron broker. James Benney, Jr. is listed in the Pittsburgh and Allegheny Illustrated Review of 1889 as the Secretary of the Pittsburgh Electro Plating Company with offices at 543 Wood Street. The directory for the following year (1890-91) lists their office on Market Street and their residence in Emsworth, Pennsylvania. Apparently the Benney's moved their office again the following year (1891-92) to Smithfield Street and their residence to 4241 Fifth Avenue, near Craig Street in Oakland (then referred to as Bellefield). They remained at this residential location at least until 1900, when they are listed in the Pittsburgh and Allegheny Blue Book.

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