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J. T. Johnson papers (faculty-Agriculture)


Repository: Kent State University Libraries. Special Collections and Archives.
Title: J. T. Johnson papers
Inclusive Date(s): 1865-1950
Bulk Date(s): 1880-1930
Author: Finding aid prepared by Bonnie Mitchell, November 1977
Creation: Finding aid encoded by Edith Serkownek using the OhioLINK EAD Application in 2010
Origination: Johnson, J. T. (John Thomas), 1869-1956
Extent: 3 cubic feet (5 boxes = 2 record storage boxes, 2 document cases and 1 flat box)
Physical Location: 11th Floor
Finding Aid Identifier: OhKeUSC0104
Abstract: The J. T. Johnson papers, dating from the mid-19th to the mid-20th century, document both the personal and academic life of John Thomas Johnson, the first dean of Kent State Normal School and the head of the Agriculture Department. Johnson was an avid photographer and the collection includes photographs, as well as newspaper clippings and miscellaneous personal papers. Johnson's papers document the early history of Kent State University.
Revision(s):
February 2010 - Revised by Edith Serkownek
October 2013 - Added to by Edith Serkownek
Language(s): The records are in English

Biography of J. T. Johnson

John Thomas Johnson was born in Belleville, Illinois in 1869. Johnson earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Illinois in 1906 and began graduate work in agricultural teacher training at the same institution. Johnson served as a teacher and administrator at Western Illinois State Normal School until 1912, when he was hired as the first Dean of Faculty and the Head of the Agriculture Department of the soon-to-open Kent State Normal School.

Johnson helped to hire additional faculty and taught agriculture extension classes throughout the area until Kent campus facilities were built. Responsibility for overseeing the official opening of Kent State Normal School in the summer of 1913 fell to Johnson while Kent's President John McGilvrey was bed-ridden with typhoid fever. Johnson was a teacher and administrator at Kent from 1912 to 1917, at which time he left to teach at the Cleveland School of Education and later, Bowling Green State Normal College. Johnson returned to Kent in 1925 as Superintendent of the College Farm and Head of the Agriculture Department. Johnson continued to serve as the department head until 1939 when the department was eliminated. He also briefly served as professor of photography and official University Photographer between 1939- circa 1941 before retiring. Johnson died in 1956.

An obituary noted that Johnson's photographs had appeared in National Geographic and that he was a pioneer in color photography. Johnson Hall, a KSU student residence hall completed in 1956, is named in his honor.

Scope and Content

The J. T. Johnson papers, dating from the mid-19th to the mid-20th century, document both the personal and academic life of John Thomas Johnson, the first Dean of Kent State Normal School, as well as Head of the Agriculture Department. Johnson was a skilled amateur photographer, and photographs form the bulk of this collection. The collection includes family photographs, early Kent Normal School campus scenes and buildings (1912 to circa 1930), and photographic studies of plant, insect and bird life. The collection also includes newspaper clippings, programs and other ephemera, much of it related to the early history of Kent State University, including commencement programs, programs for entertainments held on campus, and University School (the working campus teacher training school) publications.

Statement of Arrangement

The J. T. Johnson papers are divided into the following series:
Series 1: Photographs
Subseries 1A: Photographs: Personal and Family
Subseries 1B: Photographs: Kent State Normal School and Kent-related
Subseries 1C: Photographs: Agricultural Studies
Subseries 1D: Photographs: Nature Studies
Subseries 1E: Photographs: Oversized
Series 2: Ephemera: Kent State Normal School-related and Personal
Series 3: Newspapers Clippings and Publications
Subseries 3A: Newspapers Clippings and Publications: Kent State
Subseries 3B: Newspapers Clippings and Publications: Local Newspapers


Related Material

Further information concerning J. T. Johnson's memories of Kent State University's early history can be found in the Kent State University Oral History Project collection.

Processing Information

Identification of the majority of photographs was supplied by the processor.

Restrictions on Access

Original newspaper clippings in this collection are very fragile, photocopies for research use have been provided.

Preferred Citation

J. T. Johnson papers. Kent State University Libraries. Special Collections and Archives.

Acquisition Information

The J. T. Johnson papers were donated to KSU in 1977 by Dennis Eberhardt who had been given the collection by Nel Wampler, daughter-in-law of J. T. Johnson. Small additions were made to this collection by George Urban in 1980 and Tom Olson in 1981.

Subject Headings
The following subjects are found in this collection:

Subjects:
Nature--Photographs
Agriculture--Photographs
Families--Photographs
Persons:
Johnson, J. T. (John Thomas), 1869-1956--Archives
Johnson, J. T. (John Thomas), 1869-1956--Family--Photographs
Organizations/Corporations:
Kent State Normal School--Photographs
Kent State Normal College--Photographs
Kent State University--Photographs
Kent State Normal School
Kent State Normal College. Dept. of Agriculture
Kent State University--History
Kent State Normal Training School
Functions:
Photography
Nature photography
Universities and colleges--Administration
Occupations:
College administrators
Photographers
High school students
Material Types:
Photographs
Clippings (Books, newspapers, etc.)
Student newspapers and periodicals



Detailed Description of The Collection

Series 1: Photographs, 1880s-1950s

Subseries 1A: Photographs: Personal and Family, 1880s-1950s
Scope and Content
J. T. Johnson's personal and family photographs include studio portraits and snapshots from the late 19th century through the mid-20th century. Multiple photographic formats and styles are represented including tintypes, albumen prints and cyanotypes. The majority of photographs are unidentified.
Box 1 / Folder 1
Photographs: Portraits of J. T. Johnson, 1880s-early 1900s
Box 1 / Folder 2
Photographs: Portraits of J. T. Johnson, 1910s-1950s
Box 1 / Folder 3
Photographs: Family portraits; tintypes, mid-19th century
Box 1 / Folder 4
Photographs: Family portraits taken in studios in Illinois, late 19th century
Box 1 / Folder 5
Photographs: Family portraits taken in studios in Illinois, late 19th century
Box 1 / Folder 6
Photographs: Family portraits taken in studios in Illinois, late 19th century
Box 1 / Folder 7
Photographs: Family portraits taken in studios in Indiana, late 19th century
Box 1 / Folder 8
Photographs: Family portraits taken in studios in Kansas, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Missouri and Michigan, late 19th century
Box 1 / Folder 9
Photographs: Family portraits, late 19th-early 20th century
Box 1 / Folder 10
Photographs: Family portraits, late 19th-early 20th century
Box 1 / Folder 11
Photographs: Family portraits, late 19th-early 20th century
Box 1 / Folder 12
Photographs: Family portraits, late 19th-early 20th century
Box 1 / Folder 13
Photographs: Family portraits, late 19th-early 20th century
Box 2 / Folder 1
Photographs album: Family snapshots including cyanotypes and albumen prints, late 19th century
Box 2 / Folder 2
Photographs: Family snapshots; cyanotypes, late 19th century
Box 2 / Folder 3
Photographs: Family snapshots: J. T. Johnson and new automobile, 1910s
Box 2 / Folder 4
Photographs: Family snapshots; boys running in a foot race (possibly Johnson's son, Haskett), 1910s
Box 2 / Folder 5
Photographs: Family snapshots; J. T. Johnson's son Haskett, many taken in front of their house at 607 E. Main Street, Kent, 1910s-1920s
Box 2 / Folder 6
Photographs and negatives: Family snapshots, 1900s-1920s
Box 2 / Folder 7
Photographs: Snapshots of a man suspended in the air from the IOOF building, downtown Kent (?), 1920s
Box 2 / Folder 8
Photographs and negatives: Family snapshots of Haskett Johnson's family, 1940s
Box 2 / Folder 9
Photographs: Family snapshots of woman with Dalmatian and Dalmatian with puppies; most taken on the steps and walkway by McGilvrey and Kent Halls, 1940s
Box 2 / Folder 10
Photographs: Locations: Miscellaneous buildings, bridges, street scenes and historic structures, several in Illinois, late 19th-early 20th century
Box 2 / Folder 11
Photographs: Locations: Miscellaneous buildings, bridges, street scenes and historic structures, several in Illinois, late 19th-early 20th century
Box 2 / Folder 12
Photographs: Locations: Miscellaneous buildings, bridges, street scenes and historic structures, several in Illinois, late 19th-early 20th century

Subseries 1B: Photographs: Kent State Normal School and Kent-related, 1913-1930
Scope and Content
Kent State and City of Kent-related photographs including buildings and early campus scenes.
Arrangement
Materials organized by subject and then chronologically.
Related Material
Many of these photographs also appear in the Kent State Archives and Special Collections' Older Positives-Negatives collection, although not always credited to J. T. Johnson.
Box 2 / Folder 13
Photographs: Buildings: Administration Building and Merrill Hall, late 1920s
Box 2 / Folder 14
Photographs: Buildings: Front Campus with Administration Building (with new facade) in foreground, early 1930s
Box 2 / Folder 15
Photographs: Buildings: Front Campus taken from Moulton Hall with Lowry, Merrill and Kent Halls and Administration Building visible, 1919
Box 2 / Folder 16
Photographs: Buildings: Front Campus showing Moulton, Lowry and Merrill Halls and the Administration Building, late 1920s
Box 2 / Folder 17
Photographs: Buildings: Kent Hall under construction with the Administration Building, Lowry and Merrill Halls behind, winter, 1915
Box 2 / Folder 18
Photographs: Buildings: Kent Hall under construction with the Administration Building, Lowry and Merrill Halls behind, winter, 1915
Box 2 / Folder 19
Photographs: Buildings: Kent Hall, late 1920s
Box 2 / Folder 20
Photographs: Buildings: Lowry Hall under construction, 1913
Box 2 / Folder 21
Photographs: Buildings: Lowry Hall, circa 1914
Box 2 / Folder 22
Photographs: Buildings: Lowry Hall, late 1920s
Box 2 / Folder 23
Photographs: Buildings: Lowry Hall, late 1920s
Box 2 / Folder 24
Photographs: Buildings: Merrill Hall construction, 1913
Box 2 / Folder 25
Photographs: Buildings: Moulton Hall with construction in front, 1920s
Box 2 / Folder 26
Photographs: Buildings: Moulton Hall, late 1920s
Box 2 / Folder 27
Photographs: Buildings: Rockwell Hall including interior and exterior with blimp overhead, late 1920s
Box 2 / Folder 28
Photographs: People: President James Engleman and Dr. Thomas, June, 1930
Box 2 / Folder 29
Photographs: People: President James Engleman with unidentified individual, Kent Hall in background, circa 1930
Box 2 / Folder 30
Photographs: People: Alex Whyte and (?) Williams using hose to flood Blackbird Lake for ice skating (?), winter, 1917
Box 2 / Folder 31
Photographs: People: Baseball team; Kent's first baseball team (Note: This photograph differs slightly from the photograph that appears in the 1914 yearbook), 1914
Box 2 / Folder 32
Photographs: People: Natural Dance class students on Front Campus lawn, 1920s
Box 2 / Folder 33
Photographs: People: OCSA Annual Meeting, Ashtabula (Johnson standing center back row), June 26-27, 1925
Box 2 / Folder 34
Photographs: People: Sewing class, 1920
Box 2 / Folder 35
Photographs: People: Campus horse and buggy team with Lowry Hall in background, circa 1914
Related Material
A similar photograph in Kent State University Older Negative-Positive Photographs collection, #1-11-33, is labeled "Archie and Dan"
Box 2 / Folder 36
Photographs: People: Unidentified group of female students, probably posed for a yearbook photograph, 1910s
Box 2 / Folder 37
Photographs: People: Unidentified group of students and faculty (?) standing in front of Merrill Hall, early 1930s
Box 2 / Folder 38
Photographs: People: Unidentified group of grade school children examining plants in their classroom (University School students?), 1910s
Box 2 / Folder 39
Photographs: People: Unidentified snapshot of five men working in tree tops (Davey Tree trimmers working on campus?), 1910s
Box 2 / Folder 40
University School student theater cast on Front Campus, performing scenes from Lady of the Lake, 1914
Box 2 / Folder 41
University School student theater cast on Front Campus, performing scenes from Lady of the Lake, 1914
Box 2 / Folder 42
University School student theater cast on Front Campus, unknown performance, 1910s
Box 2 / Folder 43
University School student theater cast on Front Campus, unknown performance, 1910s
Box 2 / Folder 44
Photographs: Scenes: Graduation procession across Hilltop Drive, 1920s
Box 2 / Folder 45
Photographs: Scenes: City of Kent, taken along Franklin Street with a view of Main Street bridge, dam, railroad tracks and locomotive, 1910s
Box 2 / Folder 46
Photographs: Scenes: City of Kent (?); People gathered around locomotive, 1910s
Box 2 / Folder 47
Photographs: Scenes: Students leaving 'Tabernacle' Assembly Hall, summer 1915
Box 2 / Folder 48
Photographs: Scenes: Views of Front Campus and City of Kent taken from the Administration Building, 1919
Box 2 / Folder 49
Photographs: Sketch: Architect's drawing of proposed Kent Normal School Front Campus buildings, copystand photograph, 1913

Subseries 1C: Photographs: Agricultural Studies, 1913-circa 1927
Scope and Content
Agriculture-related photographs and reports by Johnson, relating to his research at Western Illinois State Normal School and Kent State Normal School.
Arrangement
Material organized chronologically.
Box 2 / Folder 50
Photographs: Western Illinois State Normal School soil experiment field photographs, 1913
Scope and Content
Photographs originally appears in The Military Tract: Normal School Quarterly, "Agriculture circular No. 3, Soil Experiment Field" by J. T. Johnson, March 1913, reprinted in the Kent State Normal School Quarterly No. 9, 1914
Box 2 / Folder 51
Report: Potato Experiment Plots and Corn Crop, Kent State Normal College Farm by J. T. Johnson, Farm Superintendent, 1927
Scope and Content
Report includes photographs of Kent Front Campus as well as college farm fields and crops
Box 2 / Folder 52
Photographs: Kent College farm fields, fertilizer bags and potato crops, circa 1927

Subseries 1D: Photographs: Nature Studies, early 20th century
Scope and Content
Photographic studies of plants, animals and insects. Many prints are hand-tinted.
Arrangement
Material is organized by subject.
Box 3 / Folder 1
Photographs: Animals: Canada Geese, undated
Box 3 / Folder 2
Photographs: Animals: Owl, undated
Box 3 / Folder 3
Photographs: Animals: Swans, circa 1936
Box 3 / Folder 4
Photographs: Animals: Swans, circa 1936
Box 3 / Folder 5
Photographs: Animals: Swans, circa 1936
Box 3 / Folder 6
Photographs: Animals: Swans, circa 1936
Box 3 / Folder 7
Photographs and Journal Cover: Animals: Swans: Cover of the Transit Journal with a photograph of swans by J.T. Johnson and original photograph, July, 1936
Box 3 / Folder 8
Photographs: Fruits and Vegetables, undated
Box 3 / Folder 9
Photographs: Insects, undated
Box 3 / Folder 10
Photographs: Plants and Flowers, undated
Box 3 / Folder 11
Photographs: Plants and Flowers, undated

Subseries 1E: Photographs: Oversized, circa 1927-circa 1939
Arrangement
Personal and Kent State-related photographs are organized by date. Photographic studies of animals, plants and insects are organized by subject.
Box 4 / Folder 1
Oversized Photographs: Buildings: Front Campus scene with Administration Building, Merrill and Lowry Halls, circa 1927
Box 4 / Folder 2
Oversized Photographs: Interior: Dining Room, unidentified, undated
Box 4 / Folder 3
Oversized Photographs: Scenes: Commencement processions with President Carl Leebrick, President James Engleman and President McGilvrey, circa 1938
Box 4 / Folder 4
Oversized Photographs: Scenes: Goodyear blimp over town with an Avondale bus in the foreground, late 1920s
Box 4 / Folder 5
Oversized Photographs: Animals: Canada Geese, undated
Box 4 / Folder 6
Oversized Photographs: Animals: Dogs, undated
Box 4 / Folder 7
Oversized Photographs: Animals: Sheep, undated
Box 4 / Folder 8
Oversized Photographs: Animals: Swans, undated
Box 4 / Folder 9
Oversized Photographs: Animals: Swans, undated
Box 4 / Folder 10
Oversized Photographs: Fruits and Vegetables, undated
Box 4 / Folder 11
Oversized Photographs: Insects, undated
Box 4 / Folder 12
Oversized Photographs: Plants and Flowers, undated
Box 4 / Folder 13
Oversized Photographs: Woman holding a moth and woman blowing bubbles, undated
Box 4 / Folder 14
Oversized Photographs: Baby taken by Crowley-Stokes Studio, Cleveland, Ohio, undated

Series 2: Ephemera: Kent State Normal School-related and Personal, 1880s-1933
Arrangement
Material is organized chronologically.
Box 5 / Folder 1
Ephemera: Miscellaneous personal material belonging to J. T. Johnson including invitations, graduation programs and Christmas cards, unrelated to Kent State Normal School, 1880s-early 1900s
Box 5 / Folder 2
Ephemera: Program: Third Annual Banquet of the Kent Board of Trade held in the Kent State Normal School dining hall, May 1, 1913
Box 5 / Folder 3
Ephemera: Words to the Kent State Normal School song (several variations) and processional, 1913 and undated
Box 5 / Folder 4
Ephemera: Postcard; Kent State Normal School informational postcard, including architect's sketch of the proposed campus, circa 1913
Box 5 / Folder 5
Ephemera: Commencement programs for Kent State Normal School and Kent State Normal College, 1914-1917
Box 5 / Folder 6
Ephemera: Program: The United States Marine Band of Washington D.C. at Kent State Normal School, November 20, [1915]
Box 5 / Folder 7
Ephemera: Programs: The Philharmonic Society of New York performing at Kent State Normal College, March 16, 1916 and March 16, 1917
Box 5 / Folder 8
Ephemera: Programs and newspaper clippings: Ernestine Schumann Heink performing at Kent State Normal College, August 1, 1916
Box 5 / Folder 9
Ephemera: Program and photograph(?): Princess Kiku performed at the Faculty Women's Club, March 10, 1917
Box 5 / Folder 10
Ephemera: Program: Kent Normal High School (University School) first graduating class commencement, circa 1917
Box 5 / Folder 11
Ephemera: Schedule of classes for Kent State College, summer quarter 1926

Series 3: Newspapers Clippings and Publications, 1910-1935

Subseries 3A: Newspaper Clippings and Publications: Kent State, 1910-1933
Box 5 / Folder 1
Newspaper Clippings and Publications: The Kentonian: Two issues, June 28, 1916 and June 13, 1917
Box 5 / Folder 2
Newspaper Clippings and Publications: The Kent Stater, May 18 and May 20, 1933
Box 5 / Folder 3
Newspaper Clippings and Publications: The Kent Normal School Quarterly, no. 1 and The Military Tract Normal School Quarterly (Western Illinois State Normal School), no. 8 and 18, December 1910, March 1913 and 1914
Box 5 / Folder 4
Newspaper Clippings and Publications: Normal High School News; miscellaneous issues., 1914-1915
Scope and Content
This publication was written by the University School high school students. University School is the term currently used to refer to the working teaching school (Kindergarten, grade and high school) that operated on campus during the Kent's early years.

Subseries 3B: Newspaper Clippings and Publications: Local Newspapers, 1912-1935
Box 5 / Folder 5
Newspaper Clippings and Publications: Local Newspapers: The Courier-Tribune, 1933-1935
Box 5 / Folder 6
Newspaper Clippings and Publications: Local Newspapers: The Kent Courier, Miscellaneous dates 1912-1913
Box 5 / Folder 7
Newspaper Clippings and Publications: Local Newspapers: The Kent Tribune, 1916 and 1928
Box 5 / Folder 8
Newspaper Clippings and Publications: Local Newspapers: Miscellaneous clippings, undated