Appletons' Cyclopædia of American Biography/Pitman, Benn
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|Edition of 1900. See also Benjamin Pitman on Wikipedia, and our Appletons' Cyclopædia of American Biography disclaimer.|
PITMAN, Benn, stenographer, b. in Trowbridge, Wiltshire, England, 22 July, 1822. He was educated in his native town, and in 1837 assisted his brother in perfecting the latter's system of phonography. From 1843 till 1852 he lectured on the system throughout Great Britain, and had a large share in compiling his brother's text-books. At Isaac's request he came to the United States in January, 1853, to give instruction in phonography, and settled at Cincinnati, where he has since resided. In 1855 he discovered the process of producing relief copper-plates of engraved work by the galvanic process known as electrotypes, for which he was awarded a silver medal by the Cincinnati mechanics' institute in 1856. The following year he succeeded, in connection with Dr. J. B. Burns, in producing stereotype plates by the gelatine process in photo-engraving. From his arrival in this country until 1873 Mr. Pitman was chiefly engaged in reporting. In 1863-'7 he acted as the official stenographer during the trials of the assassin of President Lincoln, the “Sons of Liberty,” the “Ku-Klux Klan,” and other similar government prosecutions. He also edited and compiled the printed reports of these trials. In 1873 he abandoned reporting and became connected with the school of design, now the art academy, of the University of Cincinnati. His object was to secure the development of American decorative art and to open up a new profession for women. The display of wood-carving and painting on china sent to the Philadelphia centennial exhibition was the first attempt to give the public an idea of what had been accomplished. Over one hundred pieces were exhibited, including elaborately decorated cabinets, base-boards, bedsteads, doors, casings, mantels, picture-frames, and book-cases all the work of girls and women. Mr. Pitman for years lectured and taught in the same institution. Besides many elementary books of instruction on phonography, he has published “The Reporter's Companion” (Cincinnati, 1854); “The Manual of Phonography,” of which 250,000 copies have been issued (1855); “Trials for Treason at Indianapolis” and “The Assassination of President Lincoln, and the Trial of the Conspirators” (1865); and, with Jerome B. Howard, “The Phonographic Dictionary” (1883).