100 years ago today: Convicts, Contests & Campaigns

100 years ago today, readers of the Joplin Globe newspaper in Joplin, Missouri would have opened their newspapers and found photos of two women:

Photo taken by Jeanette in Joplin Globe, May 11, 1924
Joplin Globe, May 11, 1924
Photo taken by Jeanette in Joplin Globe, May 11, 1924
Joplin Globe, May 11, 1924

One young woman is a high school senior and a talented pianist; the other woman is leaving later this week for an extended trip “in the east”.

But of course, the reason I bring this up today is that both photos have the photo credit “Photo by Jeanette”. That indicates those photos are by the Jeanette Studio, run by a Mrs. Jeanette Fleming; opened in 1898, it was a business still going strong in 1924.

Now, you would not be wrong thinking that it seems curious for the studio name to be Mrs Fleming’s first name, and not her last name. After all, both male and female photographers, if they use their name as part of their studio name at all, will normally opt to use their last name.

So, let’s dig a little deeper into Jeanette Fleming’s story.

By 1897, Jeanette Fleming was estranged from her photographer husband, F. F. Fleming.
BTW, F. F. Fleming’s studio was called the “Elite Studio”, not the “Fleming Studio”. But that’s really neither here nor there.

In May 1897, F. F. attacks and tries to kill Jeanette – something that lands him in jail. The court judges him guilty by reason of insanity, and wants to have him committed to an insane asylum. But F.F.’s father, Dr. W.H. Fleming, successfully pleads with the court to release his son to his custody instead.

Interestingly, in September 1897 there’s a notice that Mr and Mrs F. F. Fleming are returning from a 3-week vacation, which might indicate that Jeanette and her husband reconciled.

Then again…

Just a few months later, in the early months of 1898, the notices in the newspaper indicate that Jeanette has taken over running F.F. Fleming’s photographic studio and, after putting things in order, she closes that studio. A short while later, she opens The Jeanette Studio.

So perhaps she named used her first name for her studio, to remove any possible confusion as to whether or not F. F. Fleming is involved with the studio.

But he’s not in the picture anymore… 😉


Jeanette Fleming goes on to run the Jeanette Studio on her own for almost 40 years! For a while, she is also very active with the Missouri Photographers association, serving for as the V.P. of that organization for a number of years. Plus she wins awards for her photography, too.

Headline on article about Mrs Fleming winning awards for her photos. Joplin Daily Globe, June 23, 1906
Joplin Daily Globe, June 23, 1906

Jeanette retires in the mid 1930s, having found true success over the years as a photographic entrepreneur.

In addition to taking the usual studio portraits of folks coming to her studio of their own volition, and in addition to taking photos use in social notices (like the ones above), Mrs. Fleming also has some other ways to make money from photography that we don’t always see. For example,

  • Convicts

In the following 1901 newspaper clipping, we see that the local police brought the arrested suspects to the Jeanette studio to get their photo taken.

Snippet from article about prisoners arrest, Galena News, April 11, 1901
snippet from an article in the
Galena News, April 11, 1901
  • Contests

Well, at least one “contest” used her photo – although it was really part of a gimmick for a contest as part of an advertising campaign in 1907. The idea was that the following photo of the back of a man’s head was published in an ad contest for the Billy Butter company; the goal was to identify the man to win a prize:

Photo of back of man's head. Photo used in contest for Billy Butter company; the goal was to identify the man to win an award. Joplin News Herald, June 2, 1907
Joplin News Herald, June 2, 1907
  • Advertising Campaigns

It turns out that providing photos for a corporate advertising campaign was something Jeanette did more than once. In 1930, her photos of people appear in newspaper ads over many months as part of a long advertising blitz for the Konjola medicine company. The ads give testimonials from satisfied customers, and there’s a headshot of each customer included in each ad. Konjola was a so-called patent medicine that was said to cure whatever ailed you. (You can read more about Konjola here). Here’s a sample ad with a headshot of one of the customers; there were both men and women, young and old, included in the campaign:

Part of an ad for a patent medicine; the photo of the "satistfied customer" is by Jeanette. Joplin Globe, November 13, 1930
Joplin Globe,
November 13, 1930

Quite a variety of ways to make money from photography, eh?

So, today we celebrate Jeanette Fleming and all her photographic accomplishments, starting by appreciating the 2 lovely photos that appeared in the Joplin Globe’s Sunday edition on May 11, 1924 — 100 years ago today.

P.S. Interestingly, in those 2 photos from May 11, 1924, both women are posed looking, and that seems to have been the style in “Photos by Jeanette” that appear in the newspaper like this. I don’t recall noticing such a distinctive style in these kind of newspaper “social notices” photos done by any other photography studio I’ve looked at over the years.