circa 1943-1948. Archive of Educator and Historian Arthur L. Johnson, circa 1943-1948
About 8 inches of manuscript material in Good to Very Good condition with some light to moderate edge wear and a bit of dust-soiling.
A fantastic and well-rounded collection of drafts, notes and manuscripts of a noted New Jersey educator and historian, Arthur L. Johnson. Some of the materials relate to the history of education in the New Jersey area, and others attempt to bring light to the medical and medicinal practices of Native Americans. There is also content on the fascinating history of the murder of a passionately pro-American chaplain’s wife during the Revolutionary War.
Arthur L. Johnson served as the superintendent of schools for Union County, New Jersey for 45 years. He founded the Union County Junior College, and helped organize the Union County Band and Orchestra Summer School, as well as the Eastern Conservatory of Music and Arts. Johnson also helped establish the county's regional high school system. In 1955, just after his death, the new high school in Clark, New Jersey, was named in his honor. He was active with the Sons of the American Revolution, served as Vice President of the Union County Historical Society and as Historian of the Union County Park Commission.
The bulk of the collection consists of Johnson’s typed and handwritten drafts for a work entitled “Indian Surgery.” There are groups and loose sheets of extensive handwritten notes on legal paper, nearly all numbered and neatly legible. The work began: “This discussion of Indian Surgery has been undertaken in order to dispel the common belief that primitive man in the Western Hemisphere was an inferior being…a cruel, bloodthirsty, and vengeful creature…Too little consideration has been given to our indebtedness to the Indian…Among the many contributing factors that aided in a permanent establishment in America was the gift of medicinal knowledge and the native practice of surgery.” The manuscripts include sections on general surgery, commenting on the adept skills of the “Indian Shaman,” as well as fractures, obstetrics, the treatment of snake bites and rabies. In a section on “empirical therapeutics,” Johnson noted: “Primitive man was quite generally free from mental disturbances but in some instances an Indian would develop a morbid state of mind, perhaps due to some excessive nervous or physical strain.” The work also touched on anesthesia, herb gardens and herbal remedies, and practices of the Indian surgeon in war. Also of note are two typed pages and a page of handwritten notes pertaining to an article from “Time” magazine, “Echo of the Incas, ” with a clipping of the article.
This collection also includes the manuscripts for “Certain Facts Relating to the Tragic Death of Hannah Caldwell, Wife of Rev. James Caldwell” (10 pp. typed with a few manuscript corrections) and “Passages in the History of Elizabethtown” (in two typed sections, with one handwritten correction, 22 pp. and 16 pp.) Reverend James Caldwell, Pastor of the Elizabethtown Presbyterian Church, served as Chaplain to the Third New Jersey Regiment during the American Revolution. With the support of his wife Hannah, he spoke out against King George III and the British government’s policies of taxation without representation, unfair religious laws, and limited public speech. As a preacher for independence, Caldwell angered the British, who placed a price on his head. On the 7th of June, 1780, James Caldwell fled to safety in Springfield; Hannah believed no harm would come to her and the couple’s small children at the parsonage, but was murdered by a British soldier in her home.
There are also about three inches of material documenting the history of education in New Jersey. These include Johnson’s handwritten transcriptions of laws and legislation from as early as the “Act to Establish Common Schools,” passed in 1838. There is a list of heads of the state department from 1846 to 1943 as well as a 9 pp. “History of the County Superintendent of Schools in New Jersey.” There are also family histories and genealogies from New Jersey and Delaware. The collection further includes drafts and notes for another of Johnson’s works, on “The Deserted Village” of Feltville, New Jersey, as well as a few short (2-3 pp.) typed musings on themes of “The Country Road” and “Friendship.” There is a letter to the membership of the Archeological Society of New Jersey, announcing the 1948 annual meeting of the Eastern States Archaeological Federation to be held in Trenton, New Jersey, as well as a 22 pp. publication, the Bulletin No. 7 of the Eastern States Archaeological Federation from 1948.
OCLC shows one holding of “Certain Facts Relating to the Tragic Death of Hannah Caldwell - Passages in the History of Elizabethtown,” collected and edited by Johnson, without a date or publication information, at the Jersey City Free Public Library. There are seven holdings of his “Deserted Village” work, which was published by the Union County Park Commission, also undated: 6 appear in New Jersey institutions and one is at Harvard. OCLC locates five holdings (three in New Jersey) of a 7 pp. work by Johnson entitled “Washington at Elizabethtown,” which recounts several visits by George Washington to what is now Elizabeth, Union County, New Jersey. And in 1952 Johnson wrote the “History of the County Superintendency in New Jersey,” which is held only at the New Jersey State Library. We could not locate any holdings of Johnson’s drafts, manuscripts or archives online or in OCLC. Item #665