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William Richard Johnson Papers

Call Number: RG 6
Scope and Contents

The first series, CORRESPONDENCE, is divided into two sections:


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.

  1. Abraham Lincoln National Republican Club
  2. American China Policy Association
  3. American Friends of the Captive Nations
  4. American Friends of Vietnam
  5. American Jewish League Against Communism
  6. American Mercury
  7. American Way
  8. Association of Citizens' Councils
  9. China Bulletin
  10. Chinese News Service
  11. Christian Beacon
  12. Christian Children's Fund
  13. Christian Educational Association
  14. Christian Freedom Foundation
  15. Christian Herald
  16. Christian National Crusade
  17. Church League of America
  18. Circuit Riders, Inc.
  19. Citizens' Council
  20. Citizens' Foreign Aid Committee
  21. Committee of One Million
  22. Committee for Constitutional Government
  23. Committee for the Preservation of State and Local Government
  24. Congress of Freedom, Inc.
  25. Constitution Clubs of Illinois
  26. Cosmos Club
  27. Council for Statehood
  28. Defenders of the American Constitution
  29. Embury-Heck Anniversary Committee
  30. Everingham Company
  31. Federation for Constitutional Government
  32. For America
  33. Free China Committee
  34. Free Enterprise
  35. Free Men Speak
  36. Freedom Club
  37. Freedom School, Inc.
  38. "Heads Up"
  39. Human Events
  40. Independent American
  41. International Cooperation Administration
  42. International Council of Christian Churches
  43. John Birch Society
  44. Liberty Lobby
  45. Methodist Challenge
  46. National Conservative Party
  47. National Economic Council, Inc.
  48. National Review
  49. New Leader
  50. News and Views
  51. Ohio Coalition of Patriotic Societies
  52. Operation Brotherhood
  53. Plain Talk
  54. Public Action, Inc.
  55. United States Flag Committee
  56. We, the People
  57. 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.

Conditions Governing Access

The materials are open for research.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gift of the Johnson family.

  1. I. Correspondence, 1836-1966, n.d.
  2. II. Writings and Printed Material, 1909-1961
  3. III. Notes and Notebooks, 1887-1966
  4. IV. Financial and Legal Material, 1901-1966
  5. V. Personal Items and Memorabilia, 1878-1966
17.5 Linear Feet (52 boxes)
Related Names
Johnson, William Richard, 1878-1967
Language of Materials