Scope and Content of Collection
Title: Gerald Johnson Papers
Identifier/Call Number: MSS 206
Mandeville Special Collections Library
9500 Gilman Drive
La Jolla, California, 92093-0175
Language of Material:
17.6 Linear feet
(45 archives boxes)
Date (inclusive): 1938 - 1995
Papers of Gerald Woodrow Johnson, physicist and specialist in the fields of nuclear policy and atomic energy. The papers contain
subject files on a range of nuclear issues; writings by Johnson, especially
Nuclear Weapons Test Bans: A History
; correspondence with prominent figures in government, the military, and nuclear research; materials from the SALT I and SALT
II negotiations; teaching materials; and photographs of nuclear tests and international meetings on arms control.
Johnson, Gerald W., (Gerald Woodrow)
Scope and Content of Collection
Accessions Processed in 1993
The Gerald W. Johnson Papers document the multi-faceted career of a physicist who applied his knowledge to the field of nuclear
policy and atomic energy. Materials contained in the collection date from Johnson's graduate work at the University of Washington
(1938) to his position as adjunct professor of political science at UCSD. The majority of the papers were produced in the
period 1966-1979, when Johnson was most active in international nuclear policy. The papers contain substantial documentation
of Johnson's work in energy development during the 1970s. The collection provides a rich source of information in the areas
of offensive and defensive strategic systems; nuclear weapons testing, safety, and security; arms control and negotiations.
The Johnson Papers are organized in twelve series: 1) BIOGRAPHICAL MATERIAL, 2) CORRESPONDENCE, 3) SUBJECT FILES, 4) CONFERENCES,
5) TRAVEL, 6) WRITINGS, 7) SPEECHES, 8) NOTES AND DATA, 9) WRITINGS OF OTHERS, 10) PHOTOGRAPHS, 11) EPHEMERA, and 12) ORIGINALS
OF PRESERVATION PHOTOCOPIES.
SERIES 1: BIOGRAPHICAL MATERIAL
BIOGRAPHICAL MATERIAL includes articles about Johnson published in newspapers and other sources during the period 1957 to
1989. This series also contains biographical statements and resumes prepared by Johnson as well as certificates received during
SERIES 2: CORRESPONDENCE
CORRESPONDENCE provides extensive documentation of Johnson's professional activities in the various positions he has held.
The Chronological File dates from 1968 to 1987 and reflects his activities at Gulf General Atomic, TRW, and the Atomic Energy
Commission. This file is comprised of carbon copies of outgoing office correspondence and is arranged by date.
Collected Correspondence also includes a file created by Johnson's office that contains communications regarding speeches
and conventions. This file is arranged by subject and covers the years 1964-1966.
General Correspondence contains communications between Johnson and his colleagues, fellow scientists, political and military
figures, and others active in the field of nuclear policy. This subseries is arranged in alphabetical order by surname of
correspondent or corporate name. Correspondence for individuals represented by fewer than three items is filed alphabetically
in folders labelled "Miscellaneous, A-Z." Prominent correspondents represented in the collection include Harold Brown, James
Doolittle, Edward Kennedy, Willard Libby, Herbert Okun, Hyman Rickover, Stansfield Turner, Eugene Wigner, and Herbert York.
The Harold Brown correspondence dates from Brown's tenure as Secretary of Defense in the Carter Administration. Letters from
Herbert Okun reflect his position as U.S. Ambassador in Berlin for arms control. Correspondence files for Gulf General Atomic
and TRW provide a valuable record of energy development and defense systems activities during Johnson's career. Insight into
Johnson's contributions to naval strategic systems research and development is provided by the correspondence files for Admirals
Rickover and Turner and the U.S. Navy. Letters from Wigner and York document Johnson's participation in the development of
U.S. nuclear policy.
SERIES 3: SUBJECT FILES
SUBJECT FILES contain materials compiled by Johnson during the years 1960 to 1989 and are arranged alphabetically by subject.
In these files, Johnson has collected articles, papers, correspondence and supporting documents on subjects relevant to nuclear
weapons, arms control, international nuclear treaties, and energy research and development. Of special interest is the file
for Operation Plumb Bob, a nuclear test conducted in Nevada in 1957. This file contains a scrapbook of news articles collected
by Johnson, reflecting the concern expressed regarding nuclear fallout and the effects of radiation on humans, animals, and
SERIES 4: CONFERENCES
CONFERENCES comprise a chronological arrangement of materials pertinent to many meetings, colloquia, and conferences attended
by Johnson during the years 1968 to 1989. Materials contained in this series reflect the wide range of Johnson's expertise
in nuclear policy. Included are agendas, lists of speakers, unpublished presentations, and many of Johnson's notes on the
subjects of the conferences.
SERIES 5: TRAVEL
The TRAVEL series provides brief documentation of some of the locations Johnson visited in the course of his career. These
include Germany in the Cold War era and Vietnam at the height of the conflict. These materials include itineraries, travel
reports, correspondence, and news articles and are arranged chronologically.
SERIES 6: WRITINGS
The sixth series, WRITINGS, contains a collection of Johnson's published and unpublished work, including working papers and
the manuscript of his master's thesis. The writings are arranged chronologically and document the contribution Johnson made
to the study of nuclear policy. In these works, Johnson addresses some of the most pressing issues of the post-war era, including
arms limitation and negotiations with the Soviet Union.
SERIES 7: SPEECHES
The SPEECHES series supplements Writings and includes manuscript and typescript versions of oral presentations on a number
of nuclear and energy-related issues. Speeches are arranged by year.
SERIES 8: NOTES AND DATA
NOTES AND DATA is a series that complements the SUBJECT FILES series by providing a record of Johnson's thoughts and ideas
on a range of issues, including arms control, deterrence, and permissive action links. These materials are mainly handwritten
notes or brief manuscripts by Johnson. Of special interest is a notebook containing impressions of Johnson's visit to Vietnam
SERIES 9: WRITINGS OF OTHERS
WRITINGS OF OTHERS contain a collection of articles by experts in the fields of arms control, weapons research, international
negotiations, energy development, and strategic defense. The writings are arranged alphabetically by surname of author. Many
of these articles are unpublished and some are annotated by Johnson.
SERIES 10: PHOTOGRAPHS
The PHOTOGRAPHS series includes a limited number of photographic prints and slides that reflect some of Johnson's interests
and activities, including ballistic missiles, cratering, nuclear explosions, and his 1968 trip to Vietnam.
SERIES 11: EPHEMERA AND REALIA
EPHEMERA AND REALIA is a small series and contains a slide rule used by Johnson to compute radioactive decay factors.
SERIES 12: ORIGINALS OF PRESERVATION PHOTOCOPIES
Brittle and high-acid content materials have been photocopied onto acid-free paper. These copies are filed in place of the
originals, which have been placed in series order in this series.
Accessions Processed in 2006
Spanning 1958 - 1995, the accessions processed in 2006 spotlight Johnson's involvement in the SALT I and II negotiations,
his writings on nuclear weaponry and disarmament, and his research on energy, defense, nuclear test bans, and Project Plowshare.
Also included are teaching materials, information on conferences Johnson attended and panels served, and photographs of nuclear
tests and international meetings on arms control.
The accessions are arranged in twelve series: 13) BIOGRAPHICAL MATERIAL, 14) CORRESPONDENCE, 15) SUBJECT FILES, 16) SALT NEGOTIATIONS,
17) CONFERENCES, 18) WRITINGS, 19) SPEECHES, 20) COMMITTEES, 21) TEACHING MATERIAL, 22) WRITINGS OF OTHERS, 23) PHOTOGRAPHS,
and 24) ORIGINALS OF PRESERVATION PHOTOCOPIES.
SERIES 13: BIOGRAPHICAL MATERIAL
The BIOGRAPHICAL MATERIAL series (1961-1992) includes consulting contracts, an appointment book, an interview with Johnson
regarding SALT II, resumes, materials from Johnson's service as Directory of the United States Naval Research Laboratory,
and materials from Johnson's visiting scholar appointment at UCSD. Arranged alphabetically by heading.
SERIES 14: CORRESPONDENCE
The CORRESPONDENCE series (1962-1992) is arranged alphabetically by named correspondents. Notable correspondents include Hubert
Humphrey, Birch Bayh, Henry 'Scoop' Jackson, Major General Starbird, John Tunney, and Herbert York. Topics such as nuclear
disarmament and the cold war are discussed.
SERIES 15: SUBJECT FILES
Johnson's collected research materials, articles, newspaper clippings and notes (1964-1993) on topics ranging from nuclear
test bans and safety to fossil fuels and energy production. This series is arranged alphabetically by subject.
SERIES 16: SALT NEGOTIATIONS
The SALT NEGOTIATIONS series, ordered chronologically, contains correspondence, journal articles and newspaper clippings describing
relevant events in the Strategic Arms Limitation Treaty (SALT) I and II negotiations.
SERIES 17: CONFERENCES
The CONFERENCES series is arranged chronologically. Events of note include the Institute on Global Conflict and Cooperation
Workshop and the Center for Science and International Affairs conference on Assuring Control of Nuclear Weapons.
SERIES 18: WRITINGS
This series is arranged in two subseries: A) Articles and B)
Nuclear Weapons Test Bans: A History.
A) The Articles subseries is organized chronologically and includes drafts of several works on coal, oil, nuclear power, and
B) The second subseries contains notes and research materials for the manuscript
Nuclear Weapons Test Bans: A History, and is organized by chapter.
SERIES 19: SPEECHES
The SPEECHES series is arranged chronologically and includes talks on Hiroshima, SALT I and II, fossil fuels, nuclear disarmament,
arms control and nuclear safety.
SERIES 20: COMMITTEES
Arranged alphabetically by title of committee, this series includes information from Johnson's involvement in the CIA's Nuclear
Intelligence Panel and the National Research Council.
SERIES 21: TEACHING MATERIAL
This series is arranged chronologically and includes lectures, class schedules and reading materials for various lectures
at UCSD, San Diego State University, and the University of Sussex, England.
SERIES 22: WRITINGS OF OTHERS
The WRITINGS OF OTHERS series is arranged alphabetically by author, and contains annotated and rare ephemeral materials on
issues relating to nuclear energy and bomb technology. Notable authors include V. V. Adushkin, Harold Brown, Richard L. Garwin,
M. Heusinkveld, Henry Jackson, F. A. Long, George McGovern, and Scott Sagan.
SERIES 23: PHOTOGRAPHS
Includes photographs of several nuclear tests and test sites, conferences, and portraits of Johnson. Arranged alphabetically
by folder heading.
SERIES 24: ORIGINALS OF PRESERVATION PHOTOCOPIES
This series contains original fragile or highly acidic materials, photocopies of which have been placed in their proper series
within the remainder of the collection.
Gerald Woodrow Johnson was born in Spangle, Washington, in 1917. He graduated from Washington State College in 1937, received
the M.S. degree from the same college in 1939, and was awarded a Ph.D. in physics from the University of California, Berkeley,
After teaching physics at Washington State University for two years, Johnson began working in solid state and neutron physics
at Brookhaven National Laboratory in 1949. In 1951 he headed the Analysis Branch, Nuclear Weapons Effects, in the Armed Forces
Special Weapons Project. Johnson joined the Lawrence Radiation Laboratory in 1953 and was later named associate director for
testing, responsible for nuclear testing in Nevada and the Pacific. In 1957, he became the laboratory's first director of
the Plowshare Program, an effort to develop civil, industrial, and scientific uses of nuclear explosives. From 1961 to 1963
Johnson worked in the Kennedy Administration as chairman of the military liaison committee to the Atomic Energy Commission
and also as special assistant to the Secretary of Defense for atomic energy. In this position, Johnson was responsible for
the safety of nuclear weapons and the introduction of permissive action links into the U.S. and NATO stockpiles. From 1963
to 1966 he was associate director of the Lawrence Radiation Laboratory and from 1966 to 1968 served as director of U.S. Navy
Laboratories in Washington, D.C. In 1968 Johnson joined Gulf Energy and Environmental Systems in San Diego, where he served
as manager of explosives engineering services. He was appointed director of the Atomic Energy Commission Division of Applied
Technology in 1972. From 1974 to 1977 Johnson worked in energy program development for the Energy Management Division of TRW,
Inc. During the following two years, he served as personal representative of the Secretary of Defense to the Strategic Arms
Limitations Talks and to the Comprehensive Test Ban negotiations. Johnson returned to TRW in 1979 as a senior technical staff
member of the Defense Systems Group. From 1987 to present, Johnson has held the position of Adjunct Professor of Political
Science at UCSD, where he is affiliated with the Program in Science, Technology and Public Affairs and the Institute on Global
Conflict and Cooperation.
In addition to career positions, Johnson has served on a number of committees and delegations, including: Special Assistant
to the Director of Research of the Atomic Energy Commission, 1953; Special Assistant to the Secretary of Defense for Atomic
Energy and Chairman of the Military Liaison Committee to the Atomic Energy Commission, 1961-1963; member of the Scientific
Advisory Committee of the Defense Intelligence Agency, 1965-1969; member of several U.S. delegations regarding nuclear test
monitoring and arms control, and Consultant to the Secretary of Defense, 1979-1980.
Awards presented to Johnson include the Distinguished Civilian Award by the Secretary of the Navy, 1968, and a citation from
the Secretary of Defense for SALT II work, 1979.
Publication rights are held by the creator of the collection.
Gerald Johnson Papers, MSS 0206. Mandeville Special Collections Library, UCSD.
COLLECTION STORED OFF-SITE: ALLOW ONE WEEK FOR RETRIEVAL OF MATERIALS.
Subjects and Indexing Terms
Cranston, Alan Macgregor
Doolittle, James Harold, 1896-1993
Gulf General Atomic Incorporated.
International Atomic Energy Agency
Jackson, Henry M., (Henry Martin), 1912-1983
Johnson, Gerald W., (Gerald Woodrow)
Kennedy, Edward Moore, 1932-
Kennedy, John F., (John Fitzgerald), 1917-1963
Kennedy, Robert F., 1925-1968
Mondale, Walter F., 1928-
Rickover, Hyman George
TRW Defense and Space Systems Group
Turner, Stansfield, 1923-
U.S. Atomic Energy Commission
United States. Defense Nuclear Agency.
Vance, Cyrus R., (Cyrus Roberts), 1917-2002
Nuclear arms control -- Government policy -- United States
Nuclear disarmament -- United States
Nuclear energy -- Government policy -- United States
Nuclear weapons -- Political aspects
Nuclear weapons -- Testing
Science -- Social aspects -- Manuscripts
Vietnam -- Description and travel