The first series, CORRESPONDENCE, is divided into two sections:
- CORRESPONDENCE: FAMILY
- CORRESPONDENCE: GENERAL
CORRESPONDENCE: FAMILY, dating from 1836 to 1966, includes the correspondence of many family members and gives detailed information about their activities. The letters, most of which are addressed to William and Ina Johnson, express the closeness of the family and in later years indicate an interest in preserving family records. The lives of the Johnson children are particularly elucidated by the correspondence, including their reactions to events in which they were involved and their reactions to their father's activities. The completeness and honesty of the family correspondence is very notable. Letters written regarding the settlement of Mrs. Johnson's estate after her death in 1963 reveal the misunderstanding, bitterness, and complications which emerged as Mr. Johnson worked out an agreeable solution. The family correspondence is also useful for the insights and observations about China which it includes. For example, in the spring of 1920 when Johnson was in New York during their furlough, he wrote to his wife concerning his conversation with the son of Bishop W.S. Lewis of China, referring to the difficulties blocking their return to China and conflicts encountered in China in the past.
CORRESPONDENCE: GENERAL (1852-1966) includes business as well as personal correspondence. Letters from college, missionary, and Chinese friends of William R. Johnson continue throughout. Johnson's work and involvements are highly visible through the correspondence. Perhaps the most significant period in the correspondence is the years spent in China (1906-1942) . Johnson's detailed letters to his Bishops (in turn: James W. Bashford, L.J. Birney, Herbert Welch and W.E. Hammaker) describe financial, property, and mission matters, some relating to the annual conferences. Of particular interest is Johnson's involvement in the purchase of some land for the Methodist mission between the years 1912-1917 which eventually led to a court case. Johnson's relationship with Generalissimo and Madame Chiang Kai-shek is also revealed in the correspondence. He receives correspondence from Madame Chiang Kai-shek in 1934 and 1938, as well as several notes from her secretary. Johnson writes of his Plan for Rural Reconstruction in June 1933 and in 1927, 1938 and 1939 writes describing war conditions and refugee work.
During the years after his return from China the correspondence reflects Johnson's deep commitment to fighting communism. His conservative political concerns are very evident in correspondence with congressmen, senators, to the President of the United States, to magazine editors and church dignitaries. Letters regarding Johnson's publications and efforts to find financial backing for the mailing activities related to his political concerns are included in the correspondence. Notable in this section is Johnson's correspondence with Alfred Kohlberg regarding the American China Policy Association, with which Johnson was associated from 1945-1960, serving on its Board of Directors for several years.
Johnson also exchanges letters with former students and friends in China such as C.K. Shaw, principal of the Nanchang Academy. Personal and printed newsletters from fellow missionaries are also included.
- Abraham Lincoln National Republican Club
- American China Policy Association
- American Friends of the Captive Nations
- American Friends of Vietnam
- American Jewish League Against Communism
- American Mercury
- American Way
- Association of Citizens' Councils
- China Bulletin
- Chinese News Service
- Christian Beacon
- Christian Children's Fund
- Christian Educational Association
- Christian Freedom Foundation
- Christian Herald
- Christian National Crusade
- Church League of America
- Circuit Riders, Inc.
- Citizens' Council
- Citizens' Foreign Aid Committee
- Committee of One Million
- Committee for Constitutional Government
- Committee for the Preservation of State and Local Government
- Congress of Freedom, Inc.
- Constitution Clubs of Illinois
- Cosmos Club
- Council for Statehood
- Defenders of the American Constitution
- Embury-Heck Anniversary Committee
- Everingham Company
- Federation for Constitutional Government
- For America
- Free China Committee
- Free Enterprise
- Free Men Speak
- Freedom Club
- Freedom School, Inc.
- "Heads Up"
- Human Events
- Independent American
- International Cooperation Administration
- International Council of Christian Churches
- John Birch Society
- Liberty Lobby
- Methodist Challenge
- National Conservative Party
- National Economic Council, Inc.
- National Review
- New Leader
- News and Views
- Ohio Coalition of Patriotic Societies
- Operation Brotherhood
- Plain Talk
- Public Action, Inc.
- United States Flag Committee
- We, the People
- Young Americans for Freedom
The second series, WRITINGS AND PRINTED MATERIAL, is divided into two major categories: works by William R. Johnson and those written by others.
The first category contains a variety of material including translations, reports, bulletins, book reviews, published and unpublished articles and manuscripts, talks, sermons, and memoranda. Included also are some writings by other family members. The various dates of this material provide a key to the subject matter.
The second category contains those writings and printed material which were not written by WRJ, or his family members. This material includes minutes, reports, pamphlets, and journals, sometimes anonymous. Among the most interesting are the China Famine Relief news releases (1928).
The material of the third series, NOTES AND NOTEBOOKS, is varied and includes addresses, a card file, and diaries. The notes are class notes, rough drafts of writings, sermon notes, notes regarding current events, lecture and book notes. Some are written on individual sheets and others are in notebooks. Most of the material is dated. Included also are address lists, diaries, and notes by Ina Buswell Johnson.
FINANCIAL AND LEGAL MATERIAL, the fourth series, is divided between personal and non-personal material. The first category is the personal material of Mr. and Mrs. Johnson, and includes legal documents, bills, bank statements, canceled checks, receipts, tax forms, and daily accounts. This material provides information about the various philanthropic, political, and church-related organizations to which Johnson contributed.
The second category, non-personal material, contains financial and legal material regarding various groups, such as the Methodist Church and China Relief Work, with which Johnson was associated while in China. Budgets, reports, and financial agreements are included.
PERSONAL ITEMS AND MEMORABILIA, the final series, contains biographical and genealogical information regarding the families of Mr. and Mrs. Johnson, as well as a variety of other commemorative material.