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Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, edited by James Grant Wilson, John Fiske and Stanley L. Klos. Six volumes, New York: D. Appleton and Company, 1887-1889 and 1999. Virtualology.com warns that these 19th Century biographies contain errors and bias. We rely on volunteers to edit the historic biographies on a continual basis. If you would like to edit this biography please submit a rewritten biography in text form . If acceptable, the new biography will be published above the 19th Century Appleton's Cyclopedia Biography citing the volunteer editor





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Benn Pitman

PITMAN, Benn, stenographer, born 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 1865-'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 still (1888) lectures and teaches 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).

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