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John L. Johnson Papers

An inventory of his papers at the Syracuse University Archives


Creator: Johnson, John L.
Title: John L. Johnson Papers
Dates: 1964 - 1969
Size: 2 boxes (1.5 linear feet)
Abstract: The John L. Johnson Papers consist of correspondence, conference and consultation records, and material from his career at Syracuse University.
Language: English
Repository: University Archives,
Syracuse University Libraries
222 Waverly Ave., Suite 600
Syracuse, NY 13244-2010
Sponsor: The processing of this collection was made possible through the generosity of Marion W. Meyer G'55.


Dr. John L. Johnson

As an academic and an administrator, Dr. John L. Johnson was able to foster ways of teaching students with special needs and ways of thinking about social equality. He contributed greatly to the social conscience of Syracuse University and was always guided by a strong sense of compassion and equality.

Johnson was born in 1933 in Detroit, Michigan. He received a Bachelor’s and a Master’s degree from Wayne State University in Special Education and Education Psychology respectively, and subsequently found work as a teacher, consultant, and research associate in the area. While working in the field, Johnson also attended Michigan State University and earned a Doctorate of Education in 1965.

Due to his background in teaching and teacher training, Syracuse University hired Dr. Johnson in 1966 as an assistant professor in the School of Education’s Division of Special Education. During this time, he continued to consult and train teachers on local and national levels; administrators would invite Johnson to come to their schools to evaluate their methods of teaching students with specials needs. His skill and effectiveness in this role was recognized by many in the field, and in 1967, he was asked to serve on a consultation panel for the United State Office of Education.

While his work and contributions to the field of special education were significant in a practical way, Johnson’s diverse roles benefitted the University as a whole in much broader ways. He was a skilled professor, but the administrative positions he filled reflected his personal interests as well. Johnson was a vocal presence in the department and the community with regards to civil rights, social inequalities, and institutional racism. When nine African American football players were reprimanded for boycotting practice in 1970, citing racial discrimination, Johnson served on the committee investigating the incident. He coordinated the Croton-on-Campus program, which brought local school children from inner city schools to classrooms on campus to provide learning opportunities they would otherwise not have. Johnson was appointed Assistant Provost for Minority Group Affairs in 1969, a position that allowed him to help develop the University’s policies on issues relating to minority groups. Additionally, Johnson was the first director of the African American Studies program, which was organized as both an academic subject and a tool for social change. His administrative roles were ultimately the intersection of his personal and professional passions.

Johnson resigned from Syracuse University in 1971 to become the associate superintendent of schools for specialized education in Washington, D.C. Throughout the rest of his life, Dr. John L. Johnson continued to balance his role as an educator and an activist and remained committed to finding solutions to problems of inequality.

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Scope and Content Note

The John L. Johnson Papers contain items from his various professional roles during the 1960’s. A large part of the collection consists of correspondence, organized into general topics and specific subjects. There is material from consultations at various schools that Johnson conducted at this time, records of his trips, datebooks, conference and fellowship information, and items from the United States Office of Education Consultation Panel. These papers also include information concerning the establishment and management of the Croton-on-Campus program and a special education teacher training institute. Additionally, there are articles and reports documenting the legacy of the Syracuse 8 Football Boycott.

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Access Restrictions

Please note that the collection is housed off-site, and advance notice is required to allow time to have the materials brought to the Reading Room on campus.

Use Restrictions

Written permission must be obtained from University Archives,
Syracuse University Libraries and all relevant rights holders before publishing quotations, excerpts or images from any materials in this collection.

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Related Material

The Archives holds a clipping file and a portrait file for John L. Johnson. There are related articles in the African American Studies clipping file and the School of Education Croton-on-Campus clipping file as well.

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Selected Search Terms


Johnson, John L.
Syracuse University.


African American football players.
Discrimination in colleges and universities.
Special education educators.
Syracuse University -- History.
Syracuse University. AfroAmerican Studies.
Syracuse University. Division of Special Education and Rehabilitation.
Syracuse University. School of Education.
United States. Office of Education.
College teachers.
Higher education.

Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

Preferred citation for this material is as follows:

John L. Johnson Papers,
University Archives,
Syracuse University Libraries

Acquisition Information

These papers were given to the Archives in October 1969 by Dr. Johnson. In June 2011, he donated more material to the collection.

Processing Information

Damaging materials, such as staples and paperclips, were removed. Original newspaper clippings were photocopied. The papers were organized and original folders were replaced with archival folders.

Finding Aid Information

Created by: Mary Skaden
Date: 2013
Revision history:

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The items are arranged in alphabetical order, with their contents ordered chronologically.

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Box 1 African American Studies Lecture 2005
Box 1 African American Studies - AAS 500: Graduate Seminar 1971-1972
Box 1 African American Studies - Contributions to Sociology Department 1972
Box 1 Agendas, Memos, Minutes for Division of Special Education 1967 - 1968
Box 1 Agendas, Memos, Minutes for School of Education 1966 - 1968
Box 1 American Orthopsychiatric Association Submission 1967 - 1968
Box 1 Buffalo Public School Consultation 1966 - 1967
Box 1 Clippings - The Black Voice 1973-1974
Box 1 Clippings - Daily Orange 1975
Box 1 Consultation Financial Records 1967 - 1968
Box 1 Appointments for Syracuse University Positions 1965 - 1969
Box 1 Department of Health, Education, and Welfare 1966
Box 1 General 1966
Box 1 General January - June 1967
Box 1 General July - December 1967
Box 1 General January - May 1968
Box 1 General June - December 1968
Box 1 General 1969
Box 1 General Undated
Box 1 Hampshire Country School 1967 - 1968
Box 1 Indiana University 1965 - 1966
Box 1 Marquette University 1964 - 1966
Box 1 Croton-on-Campus Notes 1968 - 1969
Box 1 Croton-on-Campus Overview 1968 - 1971
Box 1 Danforth Fellowship Application 1967 - 1968
Box 1 Datebooks 1966 1967 1968
Box 1 Division of Special Education and Rehabilitation: 20 Years of Leadership Undated
Box 1 Humanistic Education Workshop 1971
Box 1 Idaho Exceptional Child Conference 1968 - 1969
Box 1 Issues in African American Studies Department 1971 - 1974
Box 1 Lansing Schools Consultation 1965 - 1966
Box 1 Newspaper Articles 1968 - 1970
Box 1 Overbrook Children's Center Consultation 1968
PL 88-164 Training Institute
Box 1 Budget and Financials 1967
Box 1 Correspondence 1966 - 1968
Box 1 Evaluations 1967
Box 1 Follow Up Meeting 1967
Box 1 General Materials 1967
Box 1 Grant Proposal and Award Notification 1966 - 1967
Box 1 Interview Questions 1967
Box 1 Participant Reports 1967
Box 1 Pre-Planning 1966
Box 1 Responses 1967 - 1968
Box 1 Professional Material Undated
Box 1 Reaction to Institutional Racism 1969
Box 1 Research Material for Children's Behavioral Study 1967
Box 1 Resignation 1971
Box 1 Syracuse 8 Football Boycott Report and Information 1970 - 2006
Box 1 Teacher Preparation Program Committee 1967 - 1968
Box 2 United States Office of Education Conference October 1967
Box 2 Unites States Office of Education Consultation Panel 1966 1967 1968 1969
Box 2 Workshop at Boy's Training School 1964
Box 2 Writings 1968 - 1970

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