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Howard W. Johnson papers

 Collection — Multiple Containers
Identifier: MC-0163

Scope and Contents of the Collection

This collection consists of Howard W. Johnson's personal papers and reflects his activities beyond his official positions of president of MIT and MIT corporation chair. The official administrative records from his tenure as president of MIT, and then chair of the Corporation of MIT form a separate collection in the Institute Archives and Special Collections.

The collection contains files pertaining to Howard Johnson's service on various boards of directors and overseers in both the public and private sector, and files relating to his 1999 memoir, Holding the Center.

Box 27 contains congratulatory correspondence to Johnson from his friends and colleagues upon his promotion to various posts inside and outside of MIT, including his appointment as pesident of MIT. Box 27 also contains files on Johnson’s resignation as president of the Institute in 1970 and as chair of the Corporation in 1982. Box 28 includes files on honorary degrees granted to Johnson, articles and reports, and printed speeches delivered by Johnson.


  • 1958 - 2008


Access note

Materials in this collection are open unless they are marked as restricted. Restrictions are noted in the container list.

Conditions Governing Use

Access to collections in the Department of Distinctive Collections is not authorization to publish. Please see the MIT Libraries Permissions Policy for permission information. Copyright of some items in this collection may be held by respective creators, not by the donor of the collection or MIT.


Howard W. Johnson, 1922-2009, was president of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) from 1966 to 1971. He then served as chair of the MIT Corporation from 1971 to 1983.

In 1955 Mr. Johnson joined the faculty of MIT as associate professor of management and director of the Sloan Fellowship Program, following service from 1948 to 1955 as assistant professor and later associate professor on the faculty of the University of Chicago in the School of Business and the Division of Social Sciences. He received the rank of professor at MIT and was named dean of the Sloan School in 1959, serving in those capacities until January 1966, when he took a six-month leave of absence to serve as executive vice president of Federated Department Stores, Inc. On July 1, 1966, he became president of MIT.

From 1975 to 1980 Mr. Johnson served as president of the Boston Museum of Fine Arts. In September 1980, he was elected chair of the Museum's Board of Overseers. Mr. Johnson was a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He was a member of the Corporation of the Museum of Science, Boston, and the Corporation of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. He was also a member of the Council on Foreign Relations. He was a trustee of the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation and Wellesley College and an honorary trustee of the Aspen Institute for Humanistic Studies.

Mr. Johnson was a director of Federated Department Stores, the John Hancock Mutual Life Insurance Company, Champion International Corporation, the Morgan Guaranty Trust Company of New York, E. I. du Pont de Nemours & Company, and the Reader's Digest Inc. Mr. Johnson received honorary doctorates from Harvard University, Northeastern University, Tufts University, Bryant College, the University of Miami (Florida), Lowell Technological Institute, the University of Massachusetts (Amherst), Roosevelt University, Oklahoma City University, the University of Cincinnati, Clarkson College of Technology, and Babson College. He was awarded the Alumni Medal of the University of Chicago Alumni Association for 1970. In 1967 Mr. Johnson was appointed a director of the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston and served as board chair in 1968 and 1969. He was a trustee of Radcliffe College and the Institute for Defense Analyses. He was an overseer of the Boston Symphony Orchestra; and also a member of the National Commission on Productivity, the National Manpower Advisory Committee, the President's Advisory Committee on Labor-Management Policy, and the Scientific Advisory Committee of the Massachusetts General Hospital. He served as chair of the National Research Council's Panel on Advanced Technology Competition and the Industrialized Allies whose report was published in 1983. He was a member of the Steering Group of the European Security Study (1983) done under the auspices of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.


28.3 Cubic Feet (28 record cartons, 2 small boxes)

Language of Materials



Materials are stored off-site. Advance notice is required for use.


  • Johnson, Howard Wesley. Holding the Center: Memoirs of a Life in Higher Education. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 1999.

Processing Information note

Some collection descriptions are based on legacy data and may be incomplete or contain inaccuracies. Description may change pending verification. Please contact the MIT Department of Distinctive Collections if you notice any errors or discrepancies.

Preliminary Inventory to the Papers of Howard W. Johnson
Preliminary Inventory
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Libraries. Department of Distinctive Collections Repository

Massachusetts Institute of Technology Libraries
Building 14N-118
77 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge MA 02139-4307 US