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Mary Johnson papers

 Collection
Call Number: MS 2050

Scope and Contents

The papers document the activism and political work of New Haven activist Mary Johnson. The papers consist of activist organization files, subject files, correspondence, personal papers, and protest signs and posters. Activist organization files consist of newsletters, fliers, agendas, and minutes related to organizations that Mary Johnson either founded or participated with in a leadership role. These organizations focused on peace activism, organized labor, living wage initiatives, healthcare reform, and prison reform. Organizations documented include the New Haven Federation of Teachers, Local 933, Greater New Haven Coalition for People, United Farm Workers (UFW), Progressive Action Roundtable, People Against Injustice (PAI), and Livable Income for Everyone (LIFE).

Subject files include newsletters, fliers, pamphlets, and memoranda. Their materials address peace activism, healthcare reform, living wage initiatives, support for senior citizens, government elections, constitutional rights, environmental activism, and political parties. Many of the files are organized by topic. Some organizations that Johnson had an interest in but did not directly work for are included, such as the American Civil Liberties Union and Central Committee for Conscientious Objectors (CCCO).

Correspondence, personal and biographical files, and protest signs and posters comprise the remainder of the collection. They consist of personal correspondence, some organizational correspondence, awards, newspaper clippings, oral history transcripts, photographs of Johnson and her family, and signs and posters from protest and cultural events. Materials date from 1923 to 2015, with the bulk from 1975 to 2015.

Dates

  • 1923 - 2017

Creator

Language of Materials

The material is in English and Spanish.

Conditions Governing Access

The materials are open for research.

Original audiovisual materials, as well as preservation and duplicating masters, may not be played. Researchers must consult use copies, or if none exist must pay for a use copy, which is retained by the repository. Researchers wishing to obtain an additional copy of non-commercially produced items for their personal use should consult the ordering reproductions information on the Manuscripts and Archives web site.

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright has been transferred to Yale University for unpublished materials authored or otherwise produced by the creator(s) of this collection. Copyright status for other collection materials is unknown. Transmission or reproduction of materials protected by U.S. Copyright Law (Title 17, U.S.C.) beyond that allowed by fair use requires the written permission of the copyright owners. Works not in the public domain cannot be commercially exploited without permission of the copyright owners. Responsibility for any use rests exclusively with the user.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gift of Mary Johnson, 2016. Gift of Joan Cavanagh, 2017.

Arrangement

The papers are arranged in five series and one addition: I. Correspondence, 1975-2010. II. Personal and biographical files, 1923-2010. III. Activist organization files, 1969-2015. IV. Subject files, 1970-2015. V. Protest signs and posters, 1980-2012.

Related Materials

Related material: Greater New Haven Coalition for People Records (MS 2007).

Extent

14.19 linear feet (30 boxes)

Catalog Record

A record for this collection is available in Orbis, the Yale University Library catalog

Persistent URL

http://hdl.handle.net/10079/fa/mssa.ms.2050

Overview

The papers document the activism and political work of New Haven activist Mary Johnson. The papers consist of activist organization files, subject files, correspondence, personal papers, and protest signs and posters. Materials address peace activism, healthcare reform, living wage initiatives, support for senior citizens, government elections, constitutional rights, environmental activism, and political parties. Organizations documented include the New Haven Federation of Teachers, Local 933, Greater New Haven Coalition for People, United Farm Workers (UFW), Progressive Action Roundtable, People Against Injustice (PAI), and Livable Income for Everyone (LIFE). Materials date from 1923 to 2015, with the bulk from 1975 to 2015.

Biographical / Historical

Mary Johnson was born Mary Elizabeth Doherty on March 29, 1922 in Winsted, Connecticut. Her father was a telegrapher for the Associated Press and her mother worked in the classified advertising department of the New Haven Register before marrying. Johnson was the oldest of four children. As a child, Johnson lived briefly in West Haven, Connecticut before moving to New Haven when she was six years old. In 1939, Johnson started college at the New Haven State Teacher's College and graduated in 1943. She taught elementary school for six years and resigned in June 1949 in anticipation of her December 26, 1949 marriage to Carl Johnson. They had three daughters before divorcing in 1977. Mary returned to teaching as a part time substitute teacher in 1965, and was reinstated as a full time teacher at the middle school level in 1967. She taught at Troup Middle School until her retirement until 1982.

Johnson became involved with advocacy and activism groups in the late 1950s, when she became interested in anti-nuclear energy efforts. However, it was the Vietnam War that pushed her to more intensive work for the peace movement in the 1960s. She regularly went to Washington, D.C. to protest the war and was involved in New Haven-based groups including Spinsters Opposed to Nuclear Genocide (SONG). She also joined the New Haven Federation of Teachers (NHFT), Local 933 in 1967. She served on their executive board until she retired. She was one of the leaders of the teachers' strikes in 1970 and 1975, despite court injunctions barring the strikes, and she was arrested both years. Her other union work included assisting with the United Farm Workers (UFW) national organizing teams for their boycotts of grapes and wine not produced by UFW workers.

After her retirement, Johnson formed a retiree chapter of Local 933. She also supported several labor union and labor history organizations, including the Greater New Haven Central Labor Council and the Greater New Haven Labor History Association. She also founded or was heavily involved with several organizations devoted to peace activism, healthcare reform, and living wage reform. These included the New Haven Coalition Against the War, the Coalition to Stop Trident, the Progressive Action Roundtable, Livable Income For Everyone (LIFE), the Greater New Haven Coalition for People, the Middle East Crisis Committee, and People Against Injustice. Johnson died in 2017.
Title
Guide to the Mary Johnson Papers
Author
compiled by Christy Tomecek and staff of Manuscripts and Archives
Date
January 2017
Language of description
Finding aid written in English.

Repository Details

Part of the Manuscripts and Archives Repository

Contact:
Yale University Library
P.O. Box 208240
New Haven CT 06520-8240 US
(203) 432-1735
(203) 432-7441 (Fax)