Scope and Contents
The papers of art historian, art critic, author, librarian and educator Ellen Hulda Johnson measure 61.5 linear feet and date from 1872-2018, with the bulk of the material dating from 1921-1992. The papers include biographical materials; personal and family files; personal, professional, and business correspondence; extensive research and writing files; teaching files; subject files; professional and curatorial files; and artists' files. Johnson's papers reflect the full range of her career, interests, and close relationships with many artists. There is a 0.2 linear foot unprocessed addition to this collection donated in 2021 that includes letters to Ellen Johnson from others, letters from Johnson to Carl Gerber, and a sketch by Johnson. Materials date from circa 1956-1991.
Personal papers consist of biographical materials and personal and family files, including "memorabilia" files compiled by Johnson. Correspondence is a mix of personal, business, and professional correspondence. Significant correspondents include David Saunders (who painted a portrait of Johnson), Claes Oldenburg, Jack Tworkov, Robert Venturi, the American Scandinavian Foundation. A folder of correspondence compiled for the Archives includes letters from Alfred Stieglitz, Wendell Wilkie, Carl Milles, Jim Dine, and Alexander Archipenko.
Extensive and comprehensive writing and research project files include articles, lectures, presentations, manuscripts, notes and notebooks, including her class notebooks from courses she attended in Paris in 1935, and additional notes and notebooks on a wide variety of subjects. The numerous articles, lectures, papers, and drafts were written primarily by Johnson for the College Art Association, the Allen Memorial Art Museum bulletin, and numerous additional publications and presentations; but there are also writings by others included in the research files. Major writing projects and related research files cover Scandinavian art, the Ossabaw Island artist's colony, Cezanne, Eva Hesse, John Frederick Kensett, Claes Oldenburg, Picasso, David Saunders, Athena Tacha, Pop Art, and many other topics. Johnson's research files, manuscripts, correspondence, and photographs for major exhibitions, including one on Eva Hesse (1982) and for her published books including American Artists on Art from 1940-1980 (1982), Claes Oldenburg (1971), Fragments Recalled at 80: The Art Memoirs of Ellen H. Johnson (1993), and Modern Art and Object (1976) are arranged with the writing project files. Johnson's bibliographic index cards are found here as well.
The collection contains extensive teaching files for courses taught by Johnson at Oberlin and as a visiting professor at other institutions; professional and curatorial files reflecting her curatorial career at Allen Memorial Art Museum, as a consultant, jury member, and continuing education courses she later attended, including the Baldwin Lecture Series; and 18 linear feet of artist's files assembled by Johnson.