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Emery A. Johnson Papers 1938-2007
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Emery A. Johnson (1929-2005), American physician, administrator, and health advocate, devoted his career to improving the health needs of the country's Native American and Alaska Native populations. He was the fourth director of the Indian Health Service (I.H.S.), an Assistant Surgeon General of the United States, and a life-long proponent of allowing American Indians to take control of their own health care management. His professional career is documented in his collection of correspondence, memoranda, reports, study papers, procedural documents, budget requests, legislative activity material, meeting and conference material, and reference publications.

Johnson's career can be roughly divided into three main segments, each of which is documented in a separate series. His early career as a medical officer and public health administrator at various reservations and area offices across the country is chronicled in Series 2: Early Public Health Career (1954-1969). This series will be of interest to researchers investigating the I.H.S. (then the Division of Indian Health) as it first took charge of managing American Indian healthcare. Johnson's twelve-year tenure at the head of the I.H.S., a period of significant advancements in medical facility construction and Native American involvement, is documented in Series 3: Director of the I.H.S. (1967-1981). And his lengthy "retirement" period in which he continued his active relationship with the I.H.S. and its successive directors can be researched in Series 6: Consulting Work (1976-2006). Additional I.H.S. activity may be found in Series 4: I.H.S. Federal Appropriation Requests, a collection of budget request information submitted to Congress from 1967-2002.

Some of Johnson's work outside of the I.H.S. included consulting for numerous tribes, foundations, and public health organizations on Native American and Alaska Native health matters; this material may be found in Series 6. Series 5: Legislative Activities (1964-1996) showcases his role in drafting bills to reauthorize and amend two crucial pieces of Indian legislation: the Indian Health Care Improvement Act and the Indian Self-Determination and Education Assistance Act. Series 5 also illustrates Johnson's efforts to remain informed on other legislative acts impacting tribal populations. Reference materials on Native American and general medical issues are located in VIII: Native American and Alaska Native Publications (1948-2004) and Series 9: General Medical Publications (1948-2004). Information on professional organizations and events that Johnson participated in or kept track of are in Series 7: Professional Activities (1956-2004).

This collection primarily focuses on Johnson's professional career and the activities of the I.H.S. Researchers interested in learning about his personal life will find a limited amount of information in Series 1: Personal and Biographical (1938-2006).


This series gathers together documents written by or about Johnson, personal scrapbooks, and school material. Although the series spans over sixty years of Johnson's lifetime, it does not offer a comprehensive look at his personal life and interests. Many scrapbook items were scanned and are available on DVD/CD; the originals were returned to the donor. There are two sub-series: General and Education. The General sub-series includes curriculum vitae, obituaries, photographs, speeches, scrapbooks documenting Johnson's life and retirement, and a letter from Dr. Frank E. Stinchfield written when Johnson was nine years old. The Education sub-series consists of a few papers from high school and college, course material from his doctorate studies at the University of Minnesota Medical School, and course binders from his masters studies at the University of California School of Public Health. Folders in each sub-series are arranged chronologically by date.


The Early Public Health Career series includes reports, correspondence, memoranda, procedural documents, newsletters, meeting material, and manuscripts from the years Johnson served in various medical and administrative positions within the Public Health Service's Division of Indian Health (DIH). It chronicles the first decade and a half in which the DIH was responsible for delivering health care services to the American Indian population. This series mostly documents administrative actions; there is little information on Johnson's activities as a medical officer at different reservations.

There are seven sub-series: General, Training, Policies and Procedures, Health Studies and Services, Reports, Meetings, and Health Program Systems Center. The General sub-series consists of such Johnson-related material as his correspondence, PHS assignment orders, foreign travel information, and notes. The Training sub-series contains material from several training programs and workshops; it features Johnson's course binders from the American Management Association's Management Course. The Policies and Procedures sub-series consists of procedural guidelines and policy statements that applied to the DIH in general as well as those written for specific programs and facilities. Material in the Health Studies and Services sub-series documents specific Native American health studies, conditions, programs, facilities, and services at the local or national level. By contrast, material in the Reports sub-series documents broader DIH-activities and medical summations on the entire American Indian population, including a series of reports on some Federal Indian Reservations and statistical reports. The Meetings sub-series consists of planning material, agendas, minutes, reports, and correspondence related to meetings sponsored by the DIH. Finally, the Health Programs Center sub-series contains papers and reports produced by a particular center located in Tucson, Arizona. Folders within each sub-series are arranged chronologically by date.


In 1968, the Division of Indian Health was renamed the Indian Health Service (I.H.S.). The following year, Emery Johnson was appointed Director of the I.H.S., the fourth in the bureau's history. This series consists of reports, correspondence, memoranda, procedural documents, meeting material, manuscripts, and printed matter from Johnson's tenure as director. It documents the activities of many specific medical centers, area offices, and health programs from all across the country as well as studies and decisions impacting the DIH and Indian population at large.

The material is divided into the following six sub-series: General, Policies and Procedures, Health Studies and Services, Reports, Meetings and Events, and Office of Research and Development. The General sub-series consists of I.H.S.-related correspondence, press releases, appointment books, and notes along with memoranda, reports, and testimonies on tribal matters and federal involvement with the I.H.S. The Policies and Procedures sub-series consists of procedural guidelines, manuals, and policy statements that applied to the I.H.S. in general as well as those written for specific programs and facilities; it also includes directories and general plans for the Public Health Service. Material in the Health Studies and Services sub-series documents specific Native American health studies and conditions, centers and facilities, contracts, and programs at the local or national level. By contrast, material in the Reports sub-series documents broader I.H.S.-activities and medical summations on the entire American Indian population; it includes outside recommendations, reports to congress, statistics, and task force reports. The Meetings and Events sub-series consists of planning material, agendas, minutes, reports, photographs, and correspondence related to meetings, conferences, and dedication events sponsored by the I.H.S. Finally, the Office of Research and Development sub-series contains papers and study reports produced by a particular I.H.S. office in Tucson, Arizona. Folders within each sub-series are arranged chronologically by date.


The material in Series 4 documents the efforts of Johnson and other Indian Health Service staff to justify the budget requests submitted to the congressional appropriations committee. Budget information for specific I.H.S. health programs or facilities can be found in Series 2, 3, and 6. Series 4 includes the following six sub-series: Budget Info, Justification of Appropriation Estimates for Committee, Budget Briefing Books, Appropriations Bills and Congressional Reports, Congressional Hearing Transcripts, and Reports. Folders in the first five sub-series are arranged chronologically by fiscal year; folders in the sixth sub-series are arranged chronologically by date.

The Budget Info sub-series consists of memoranda, reports, statements, and notes chronicling the planning, presentation, and analysis of federal appropriation requests by fiscal year. The Justification of Appropriation Estimates for Committee subseries contains bound reports produced by the I.H.S. from 1967-2002 for the appropriations committee. There are significant gaps in the run of reports produced during Johnson's tenure as I.H.S. Director in the 1970s, but the run from his consulting years is almost complete. The Budget Briefing Books in the third sub-series are binders of reports and statements prepared by the various I.H.S. programs for Johnson to memorize and refer to during his testimonies before the appropriations committees. Many of these binders include copies of his opening statements. The next two sub-series contain published bills, reports, and hearing transcripts focused on federal appropriations. The Reports and Plans sub-series has fiscal reports and management plans that were too bulky to include with the Budget Info sub-series.


The Legislative Activities series includes documents related to the creation, discussion, and reauthorization of laws concerning Native American health, self-determination, and other Indian-related issues. There are six sub-series: Indian Health Care Improvement Act (IHCIA), Indian Self-Determination and Education Assistance Act (ISDEAA), Other Indian Laws, Hearings, Association on American Indian Affairs (AAIA), and General. The first two sub-series contain bill drafts, analysis reports, congressional statements and testimonies, and correspondence concerned with renewing and amending the IHCIA and the ISDEAA. Johnson was heavily involved with the renewal of these acts; his testimonies and analyses of the various bill drafts are documented in each sub-series. The IHCIA sub-series is subdivided according to bill versions. The Other Indian Laws sub-series consists of material on a variety of specific laws and bills covering a wide range of Indian-related topics, such as gaming regulations, clinical staff recruitment, child welfare, metal health, and law enforcement reform. The Hearings sub-series documents various congressional and committee hearings through official testimony reports and witness statements, including statements made by Johnson and his successor Everett Rhoades. The AAIA sub-series contains correspondence between Johnson and the AAIA discussing different legislative drafts being worked on in the mid-to-late 1980s and early 1990s. The General sub-series consists of material on broader legal topics such as the government's relationship with Native Americans and Indian Health Reform. Folders in each sub-series are arranged chronologically by folder date.


The Consulting Work series, the largest in the collection, consists of material from Johnson's "retirement" period. The series documents his continued involvement in the affairs of American Indians and Alaska Natives as well as his interests in different public health and medical administration issues. It consists of four sub-series: Indian Health Service (I.H.S.), Tribes, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF), and Other.

The I.H.S. sub-series contains I.H.S.-related materials created after Johnson stepped down as director in 1981. This sub-series is divided into the following six sub-sub-series: General, Rhoades Investigation, Policies and Procedures, Health Studies and Services, Reports, and Meetings and Events. The General sub-sub-series consists of general I.H.S.-related correspondence, memoranda, press releases, writings, and legal documents. The Rhoades Investigation sub-sub-series documents Johnson's involvement with the defense of his successor Everett Rhoades, who was suspended from his position pending an investigation into alleged irregularities in the I.H.S. scholarship program. The Policies and Procedures sub-sub-series consists of procedural guidelines, manuals, and policy statements that applied to the I.H.S. in general as well as those written for specific programs and offices; it also includes a series of policy guides on Resource Allocation Methodology. Material in the Health Studies and Services sub-sub-series documents specific Native American health conditions, centers and facilities, programs, and studies at the local or national level. By contrast, material in the Reports sub-sub-series documents broader I.H.S.-activities and medical summations on the entire American Indian population; it includes outside recommendations, reports to congress, statistics, and task force reports. Finally, the Meetings and Events sub-sub-series consists of planning material, agendas, minutes, reports, photographs, and correspondence related to meetings, conferences, and dedication events sponsored by the I.H.S. It also includes information on a series of Tribal/I.H.S. Consultation Conferences. Folders within each sub-sub-series are arranged chronologically by date.

The Tribes sub-series documents Johnson's consultation of various tribes attempting to form agreements with the federal government to construct new hospital facilities. These folders are arranged alphabetically by tribe name and chronologically thereafter. Johnson also worked as a consultant for the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation for many years. The RWJF sub-series includes general information on this foundation and Johnson's correspondence with it; it is arranged chronologically by folder date. The Other sub-series contains folders on organizations Johnson consulted for, panels or review boards he served on, and general topics of interest. This sub-series is arranged alphabetically by organization or topic and chronologically thereafter.


The Professional Activities series is comprised of material from professional organizations and events that Johnson either attended or was interested in. The majority of these organizations are Native American-oriented; the remainder are federal or medical associations. Folders on meetings, events, and conferences that the Indian Health Service sponsored or participated in can be found in Series 2, 3, and 6. Material types that can be found in this series are planning correspondence, programs, agendas, minutes, travel documents, reports, and brochures. Folders are arranged alphabetically by title, the majority of which begins with the organization name.


Series 8 contains articles, newspaper clippings, newsletters, reports, essay books, monographs, bibliographies, printed matter, and manuscripts relating information on various health and social topics concerning Native Americans and Alaska Natives. Among the topics covered are the health of specific tribes, the economy's impact on health, federal-tribal relations, tuberculosis, dentistry, telemedicine, maternal and child care, and suicide. These files are largely reference material that Johnson collected on topics relevant to his work in support of American Indian health and medicine. The series is divided into five sub-series: Published by I.H.S., Published by DHHS, American Indian Policy Review Commission, Other Publishers, and Informational Manuscripts. The first two sub-series consist of federally published documents that were produced by the Indian Health Service and the Department of Health and Human Services both during and after Johnson's service. The third sub-series contains task force reports prepared by a commission assigned to survey the current status of Indian affairs and offer recommendations on legislative reforms. The fourth sub-series gathers together publications produced by various federal, tribal, and independent publishers. The fifth sub-series includes unpublished manuscripts that were not authored by I.H.S. personnel or funded by I.H.S. in any way. Each sub-series is arranged chronologically by date.


This series contains reference articles, newsletters, reports, manuals, and manuscripts on clinical medicine and health care policy topics of interest to Johnson. The contents of these publications apply to a general, rather than specifically Native American and Alaska Native, population (see Series 8 for such publications). Some topics covered in Series 9 include tuberculosis, maternal and child health, the United States health care system, health practice guidelines, alcoholism, and mental health. There are two sub-series: Published Material and Informational Manuscripts. Each sub-series is arranged chronologically by date.