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COLLECTION Identifier: Arch GA 42

Arthur M. Johnson papers


The papers of Harvard Business School professor Arthur M. Johnson consist of writing and research and HBS administrative material.


  • 1912-1968

Conditions Governing Access

Collection is open for research. Materials stored offsite; access requires advance notice. HBS Archives collections require a secondary registration form, please contact for more information.


24 linear feet (22 cartons, 4 boxes)
The papers of Arthur M. Johnson, professor of Business History, cover a period from the late 1950s to the late 1960s with the bulk of the records dating from the early 1960s. Professor Johnson worked under the administrations of Dean Stanley F. Teele (1955-1960) and Dean George B. Baker (1961-1970).

The collection contains research notes, photocopies, bibliographic reference cards, correspondence, letters sent and received, memoranda, financial records, telegrams, maps, audio tapes, transcripts, reports, publications, brochures, postcards, outlines, newspaper clippings, proxies, by-laws, charts, drawings, graphs, annual reports, government documents, legal records, contracts, speeches, field trip reports, contracts, charts and genealogies. These papers document Professor Johnson's research and writing during his HBS tenure as well as speeches made and consultant work. A small amount of teaching, course, and advisor material is included.

The papers in this collection document the various interests of Professor Johnson in his field of business history research with special emphasis on American pipe lines and Boston capitalists and their investment in railroads to expand the growth in the western United States. Of particular note in this collection is the vast background source material used for research including original company files from Prairie Pipe Line Company. Also of interest is material pertaining to Professor Johnson's editorial duties at Business History Review (1963-1967). This collection also includes documents relating to HBS administrative duties involving Baker Library, the Harvard-Newton Project, HBS summer programs, Advanced Management Program and HBS scholarships and fellowships.

Biographical Note:

Arthur Menzies Johnson was born July 24, 1921 in Waltham, Mass. and graduated from Phillips Exeter in 1940. He graduated from Harvard University with a BA in 1944 and a MA in 1948. While working toward his graduate degree, Johnson taught at Thayer Academy (1946-1947) and the Cambridge School (1948-1950). Twice his education was interrupted by military service. Professor Johnson earned his PhD from Vanderbilt University in 1954, then immediately took a position as assistant professor at the U. S. Naval Academy teaching economics and government. That same year he won the William Beveridge Prize from the American Historical Association for his thesis on American petroleum pipelines (published in 1956). In 1958, Johnson left Annapolis to relocate to Boston and to become assistant professor of business history at Harvard Business School.

While at HBS, Professor Johnson continued his research on pipelines utilizing HBS graduate students, George Harmon and John McArthur, and seasoned researcher, Catherine Ellsworth, to do field work and delve into primary source materials. That book, Petroleum Pipelines and Public Policy, was published in 1967. Other books written during Johnson's tenure at HBS include: Education for Business: The Harvard Business School 1908-1924 (1962), Government-Business Relations: A Pragmatic Approach to the American Experience (1965), Boston Capitalists and Western Railroads: A Study in the Nineteenth Century Railroad Investment Process (with Barry Supple 1967), Winthrop W. Aldrich, Banker, Lawyer, Diplomat (1968), and Case Studies in Business History and Economic Life, First Series (editor 1970). Professor Johnson attained full professorship in 1965 and served as editor of Business History Review from 1963-1967. In 1968 and 1969, Johnson took two consecutive leaves from HBS to organize economics and business courses at the University of Maine in Orono and did not return. In 1969, Johnson was the first person to obtain the title of university professor at University of Maine.

Professor Johnson was married in 1946 to the former Emily Wilford and they had two children: Robert (b. 1957) and Nancy Revell (b. 1960).

Series Outline

The collection is arranged in the following series:
  1. Series I. Writing/Research, 1912-1968
  2. ___Subseries A. Petroleum Pipelines and Public Policy, 1912-1968
  3. ___Subseries B. Boston Capitalists and Western Railroads, 1960-1963.
  4. Series II. HBS Administration, 1958-1968. [Restricted]

Physical Location


Related Materials

Additional material relating to Professor Johnson's work on his book, Winthrop W. Aldrich, Banker, Lawyer, Diplomat can be found in the Winthrop W. Aldrich papers.

Processing Information

Processed: May 1995

By: Carole Foster
Link to catalog
Johnson, Arthur Menzies, 1921- . Arthur M. Johnson Papers, 1912-1968: A Finding Aid
Baker Library

Repository Details

Part of the Baker Library Special Collections, Harvard Business School, Harvard University Repository

Baker Library Special Collections holds unique resources that focus on the evolution of business and industry, as well as the records of the Harvard Business School, documenting the institution's development over the last century. These rich and varied collections support research in a diverse range of fields such as business, economic, social and cultural history as well as the history of science and technology.

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