JOSEPH E. JOHNSON PAPERS, 1940-1990
Joseph Esrey Johnson was born on April 30, 1906 in Longdale, Virginia, and grew up in Scarsdale, New York. Johnson studied at Harvard University, where he earned his bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees. His first teaching position was as a professor of history at Bowdoin College in 1934 and 1935. From there he moved on to Williams College in Massachusetts in 1936, where he was an assistant professor of history until 1947, and a full professor from 1947-1950.
During the years from 1943-1947, however, Johnson was on leave from Williams College, and served in a variety of positions with the State Department and United Nations. Initially Johnson was appointed chief of the international affairs division in the State Department. While in this post, he played a role in the creation of the United Nations, attending both the Dumbarton Oaks Conference in 1944 as well as the San Francisco Conference in 1945. Johnson later served as an adviser to the U.S. delegation at the first U.N. General Assembly at Lake Success, New York in 1946, and assisted the U.S. representative to the Security Council, which met in London.
Johnson returned to Williams College in 1947, yet his time in academia proved to be short-lived. In 1950 he was appointed to be a trustee, and then president, of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, where he was able to apply his growing expertise in the field of brokering peaceful solutions to international disputes.
Although he served as a consultant at numerous international conferences, and was an alternate U.S. delegate to the United Nations General Assembly in 1969, he is perhaps best remembered for his role on the U.N. Conciliation Commission for Palestine in 1961. As part of the commission Johnson was named a special envoy, and traveled throughout the Middle East, meeting with various governments in search of a means of providing Palestinian refugees with a homeland of their own. Johnson’s final report recommended that refugees who were forced out of their homes by the 1948 war be allowed to return to their former homes in Israel. However, neither side accepted Johnson’s proposals.
In 1971 Johnson became president emeritus of the Carnegie Endowment. He died in Lynchburg, Virginia on October 24, 1990.
The Joseph E. Johnson Papers document the career of a State Department and United Nations official (1906-1990), who was later the longtime president of the Carnegie Foundation for International Peace. Johnson’s family donated these papers to the Hoover Library in 1994.
The Joseph E. Johnson Papers are arranged into the following series:
Personal Papers (1 box, 1940-1982): Includes diaries of a 1959 African trip and a 1967 Vietnam trip, records of other travels, honorary degree awards, photographs of dinners and committees. The correspondence in this series is from 1940 to 1982, and contains Johnson’s thought about the Jewish-Palestine conflict, international affairs, U.S. politics, and the United Nations.
Professional Papers (4 boxes): Materials are subdivided into the following three sub-series:
Writings and Speeches (4 boxes, 1946-1983): Contains Johnson’s ideas on helping to build new states in the changing dynamics in Europe and Africa; the American public and the United Nations; discrimination in the U.S. government; disarmament; overseas reaction to U.S. foreign policy; foreign policy and the search for peace; improving the United Nations; American imperialism; problems of security in 1946; and Senate Hearings report on the United Nations and World Peace.
Additional papers from Joseph Johnson were donated to Columbia University, which also contains the records of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, as well as an oral history with Johnson. There is also an oral history at the Harry S. Truman Presidential Library.
2 Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
3 Vietnam, 1967
4 Peacekeeping and International Organization Task Force, 1968
5 General Papers, 1971-1987 (2 folders)
6 Writings and speeches – Lists, 1949-1971
7 Writings and speeches, 1954-1959 (5 folders)
8 Writings and speeches, 1960-1963 (4 folders)
9 Writings and speeches, 1966-1975 (3 folders)