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Emery A. Johnson Papers 1938-2007
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Collection Scope and Content Note


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).

Show all series level scope and content notes