A Guide to the Robert Underwood Johnson Papers, 1898-1963
Born in Washington, D.C. on January 12, 1853, poet, editor, and diplomat, Robert Underwood Johnson spent his childhood in Indiana, where his father served as a judge. He graduated from Earlham College in 1871, and then joined the staff of The Century Magazine, becoming associate editor in 1881, a position he occupied until 1913. A prolific poet, Johnson wrote several volumes including The Winter Hour, and Other Poems (1891) and Poems, first published in 1902 with several subsequent editions. He also served as the permanent secretary of the American Academy of Arts and Letters.
Additionally, Johnson dedicated himself to the conservation of America’s natural resources. With John Muir, he began the movement that created Yosemite National Park as well as applying pressure to President Roosevelt, which resulted in White House conferences on conservation.
Johnson’s interests included Italian art and culture. He served as president of the New York Committee of the Italian War Relief Fund of America and the “American Poets Ambulances in Italy” which provided the Italian army with 112 ambulances. From April 1920 to July 1921, Johnson was the U. S. Ambassador to Italy while also representing the United States as observer at the San Remo Conference and the Supreme Council of the League.
After returning to the United States, Johnson focused on publishing poetry and his memoirs, Remembered Yesterdays, until his death in 1937.
Robert Underwood Johnson Collection." University of Delaware Library, Special Collections Department. Accessed December 5, 2011.
Consisting primarily of correspondence, the Robert Underwood Johnson Papers, 1898-1963, document his connections with notable literary and political figures. Notable individuals include Helen Keller; Rudyard Kipling; Orville Wright; Andrew Carnegie; World War I generals Joseph Joffre, Ferdinand Foch, and John J. Pershing; Henry Cabot Lodge; Herbert Hoover; and Edith Bolling Wilson. Letters concern both personal and professional issues, such as accepting an award from the Italian government, fundraising for various organizations, and congratulatory notes.
A collection of materials from three alphabetized office file boxes, 1898-1937, includes materials from Johnson's service as U.S. Ambassador to Italy, as well as correspondence with literary and political figures. This collection includes both letters received by Johnson and carbon copies of outgoing letters. Noted items include a 1918 concert program for the blinded soldiers of Italy, held at the Metropolitan Opera House in New York City; official correspondence with Franklin Delano Roosevelt as well as U.S. and foreign diplomatic officials; and a 1928 patent by Nicola Tesla for an "apparatus for aerial transportation."
This collection is open for research use.
Robert Underwood Johnson Papers, 1898-1963, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, The University of Texas at Austin.
This collection was processed by Ryder Kouba, December 2011.
AR 2016-080 added by Colleen Hobbs, March 2016.
Detailed Description of the Papers