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Identifier: R-MC 137

Franklyn A. Johnson Papers


  • 1942-1998

Scope and Contents

The Franklyn A. Johnson Papers consists of one manuscript box divided into six series and a total of thirteen folders. The majority of the collection (folders 1-7) consists of correspondence between Johnson and various Rutgers University staff members in the Office of Alumni Relations, the Office of Undergraduates on Leave, the Dean of Men, and the Rutgers Alumni Monthly magazine. Ultimately, folders 1-5 manage to tell a nearly unbroken and very vivid story of Johnson's military career starting in 1942 to his return to civilian life in 1947.

Folder 1 consists of a series of friendly and personal correspondence between Johnson and the Rutgers University Dean of Men, Dr. Fraser Metzger during Johnson's training and first deployments overseas. The initial items held in folder 3 are various correspondences between Johnson's parents and various official from the Rutgers Office of Alumni Relations notifying each other of Franklyn's status as missing in action and offering condolences. The latter half of folder 3 features some of Johnson's first letters since his capture where he assures the current Dean of Men Earl Reed Silvers and Registrar Luther H. Martin that was still alive, on the mend, and intended to return to Rutgers. Folders 5 and 6 primarily contain correspondences between Johnson and the Rutgers Alumni Monthly magazine regarding his changes in employment, address, and achievements.

Folder 8 contains multiple biographical forms submitted to the Alumni office from 1940 to 1966 that provide personal information about Johnson and his affiliations before and after attending Rutgers. These are particularly useful because they list all of his campus activities, academic awards, and military metals in his own words. Folders 9 and 10 consist of event programs, flyers, and other ephemera pertaining to Johnson's presidency at Jacksonville University and California State College in Los Angeles respectively. The portion of the collection referring to Cal. State also contains what appears to be a speech given by Johnson.

Most of the photographs were portraits that appear to be taken on behalf of the Rutgers Alumni Monthly magazine. Most interestingly, one of the photographs has no RAM markings and features Johnson and his father in uniform upon his return to the states with "Dad and I at the house in Miami Beach—29 Oct 44—Just to prove I am back in one piece" written on the back.

This collection also contains many clippings from New York, New Jersey, and Florida newspapers (including the Targum and Rutgers Alumni Monthly) that mention Johnson through his life.


0.4 Cubic Feet (1 manuscript box and 13 folders)

Language of Materials



A student at Rutgers University in 1940, Franklyn Johnson was involved in myriad organizations and groups on campus in addition to becoming a captain in the Rutgers ROTC in 1942. Shortly after completing his training, Johnson joined the famed Big Red One 1st Infantry Division overseas where he saw combat in Algeria, Tunisia, and Sicily before landing with the first wave on Omaha Beach in the invasion of Normandy. Eventually being wounded and captured behind enemy lines, Johnsons spent several months in a prisoner of war camp in northern France before escaping. Johnson was highly decorated for his service and eventually went on to become a writer, a professor, and the president of both Jacksonville University and California State College in Los Angeles. This collection primarily contains correspondence between Johnson and various officials at Rutgers University and the Rutgers Alumni Monthly magazine during his service. This collection also contains many clippings from New York, New Jersey, and Florida newspapers that mention Johnson through his life, photographs at various ages, as well as programs and speeches from his presidential ceremony at California State College.

Biographical Sketch

Franklyn Arthur Johnson was born in Rochester, New York on November 2, 1921 . Franklyn's parents were Robert B. (a major in the U.S. military) and Olyve E. Johnson. At twelve years old, Johnson was made Kentucky Colonel and was the youngest person to hold such a title until the same honor was given to the American actress Shirley Temple. In preparation for his college career, Johnson attended Riverside Military Academy where he was the editor of the yearbook and valedictorian of his graduating class. Subsequently, Johnson began his collegiate career toward a B.A. degree at Rutgers University in the fall of 1940. While attending Rutgers, Franklyn Johnson was the business manager of the Targum newspaper, editor-in-chief of the Scarlet Letter, senior manager of the debate team, drum major and assistant director to the band, and a member of the varsity track team. Also while at Rutgers, Johnson held the position of president in Crown and Scroll honor society, Philosphean honorary, Tau Kappa Alpha honorary, Kappa Kappa Psi, and Zeta Psi social fraternity in addition to being a member of Cap and Skull honor society, Skabbard and Blade military honor society, and Phi Beta Kappa academic honor society.

On May 3, 1942, Johnson enlisted with the Rutgers ROTC as a second lieutenant. After completing basic training, infantry school, and the company commander's course, Johnson was sent overseas to England on September 14, 1942. On December 10, Franklyn Johnson was deployed with the 1st Infantry Division to Oran, Algeria. Johnson was later made an antitank officer with the 18th Infantry, 1st Division for campaigns in Tunisia and Sicily. After returning to England in November of 1943, Johnson landed with the first wave of Allied troops on Omaha Beach in the invasion of Normandy on June 6, 1944. Although weathering the initial invasion unscathed, Franklyn Johnson was later wounded behind enemy lines and captured on June 25, 1944. Initially reported missing in action and, later, killed in action, Johnson remained captive at the Stalag 221 prisoner of war camp in Northern France from June 28th until he managed to escape on August 5, 1944. After his escape, Johnson remained hospitalized in France, England, and the United States through June 1945 and eventually retired as a captain on August 21, 1945 due to physical disability. By the end of his service Johnson was awarded a Silver Star, a Bronze Star with one OLC (Oak Leaf Cluster), a Purple Heart with two OLCs, the French Croix de Guerre, the British Africa Star, a Distinguished Unit Citation, and an ETO (Eastern Theater Offensive) Ribbon with an Assault Arrowhead and five Campaign Stars.

Shortly after his recovery, Johnson married Emily Bernetta Lingle in 1945 and completed his degree at Rutgers in 1947. In 1949, Johnson published his first book, One More Hill, an account of his experience in combat and his peers in the Big Red One (the 1st Infantry Division). After his time at Rutgers, Johnson attended Harvard University where he received his M.A. in 1949 and his PhD in political science and international affairs in 1952. Between 1951 and 1952, Johnson also attended the University of London. In the following years, Johnson worked as Assistant Professor of Political Economics in the Department of Politics at Rollins College in Winter Park, Florida and worked for the U.S. government in the C.I.A. for two years. Roughly between 1958 and 1963, Johnson was the active President of Jacksonville University until he was appointed President of California State College in Los Angeles later that year.


There is one manuscript box in the collection containing thirteen folders.

Franklyn A. Johnson Papers, 1942-1998 R-MC 137
Editted Full Draft
James Filchak
November 2012
Language of description note
Finding aid written inEnglish

Part of the Rutgers University Archives Repository

Rutgers University Libraries
Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey
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New Brunswick NJ 08901-1163
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