Manuscript Collections - Joseph E. Johnson Papers


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 3 linear feet, 11 linear inches (9 manuscript boxes)
Herbert Hoover Presidential Library

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:
1) Carnegie Endowment for International Peace (1951-1990): Contains reports to Congress on finances and personnel, information on trips to Africa, Vietnam and the Middle East, U.S.-Soviet relations and the problem of the Palestinian refugees from 1948 to 1970.
2) Name and Subject (1957-1990): Arranged alphabetically by topic or name, and includes papers on various topics related to international affairs, interviews with Johnson, and correspondence with Henry Kissinger.
3) United Nations (1945-1987): Contains information on the Ralph Bunche project, the Conciliation Committee for Palestine, Dean Rusk’s paper on the Middle-East, and members of the U.S. Delegation from 1969 to 1977.

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.



Box Contents

African Diary, 1959
 Bowdoin College, Honorary Degree, 1967
 Correspondence, 1940-1982 (5 folders)
 Far East Trip Itinerary, 1969
 Interviews, 1971, 1978
 Long Island University, Honorary Degree, 1969
 Miscellaneous, 1959-1980
 Princeton University, 1972-1973
 Retirement, 1971-1972
 Travel, 1958-1977
 Vietnam Diary, 1967



Carnegie Endowment for International Peace

Africa, United States Policy Towards, 1960
 African Trip, 1959
 Appointment of Joseph Johnson as President, 1950
 Cessation of Nuclear Testing, 1960
 Conference on Pacem in Terris, 1964
 General Papers, 1971-1978
 Giffen, S. F., 1951-1954
 Martin, Georges-Henri, 1970-1971
 Middle East Commission Trip, 1974
 Miscellaneous, 1985-1990
 Peace and Peacekeeping, Notes, 1950-1953
 Radio Interviews, 1953
 Report on Disarmament to State Department, 1953
 South Africa, Apartheid, 1965
 Statement to Senate Finance Committee, 1969
 Statement to Special Committee to Investigate Tax Exempt Foundations, 1954
 Tashkent and Samarkand Trip, 1961
 Testimony before House Sub-Committee, 1970
 Travels, 1963-1970


Vietnam, 1967
United States-Soviet Relations (Dartmouth Conference), 1960-1961

Name and Subject Files

Austin, Granville, Book Prospectus, 1986
 Bailey, Sydney, “New Light on Abstentions in the United Nations,” 1974
 Baldwin, Hanson W., Introduction to “The Price of Power,” undated
 Challenger, Richard D., “Crisis in the Establishment: Alger Hiss, John Foster 
 Clark, Kenneth B., Black-Jewish Relations, 1979
 Conflict Resolution, Lebanon, 1971-1984
 Ditchley Park Conference on the Middle East, 1973
 Foreign Affairs, Newspaper Clippings, 1989-1990
 Hughes, Thomas, L., “Liberals, Populists, and Foreign Policy,” undated
 International Institute for Strategic Studies

Buchan, Alastair, 1976
 General, 1980-1982

International Labor Conference, Discrimination, 1957
 Jewish Observer and Mid East Review, 1962
 Kissinger, Henry, 1972-1982
 Magill, Robert N., 1970-1979
 Middle East Water Supply, 1967


Peacekeeping and International Organization Task Force, 1968
 President’s Advisory Panel on Bangladesh Relief Assistance, 1971-1972
 Special Senate Committee on Policy towards Outer Space, 1958
 Sussex University Institute for the Study of International Organization, 1972
 Thompson, Kenneth W., University of Virginia, 1978-1979
 United Nations Association, 1977
 United States-Union of Soviet Socialists Republics Conference

Crimea Meeting, 1961
 Dartmouth Meeting, 1961

University Consortium for Peace Studies, 1971-1975
 World Peace Foundation, 1979-1982

United Nations

Bunche, Ralph J., 1957-1980
 Chinese Representation, 1971
 Conciliation Commission for Palestine, 1961-1963
 Draft Charter Approval, 1945


General Papers, 1971-1987 (2 folders)
 Hammarskjold, Dag, 1976
 Middle East - Dean Rusk Paper, 1954
 Palestine Refugees, 1948-1970 (2 folders)
 Palestinian Refugees – Articles and Clippings, 1962-1967
 Recognition of New Governments, 1950
 Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), 1969
 United States Delegation, 1969-1977


Writings and speeches – Lists, 1949-1971
Writings and speeches, 1946-1953 (6 folders)          


Writings and speeches, 1954-1959 (5 folders)


Writings and speeches, 1960-1963 (4 folders)
Writings and speeches - Arab vs. Israeli, Challenge for Americans, 1963-1964
Writings and speeches, 1964-1965


Writings and speeches, 1966-1975 (3 folders)
Writings and speeches, Unofficial Diplomats, 1979
Writings and speeches, Peace in the Middle East, 1983

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