Niel M. Johnson graduated with a B. A. from Augustana College in 1953. While in college, Johnson was active in the Rho Nu Delta fraternity, the Augustana choir, and was a reporter for the Observer, the college newspaper. He also served as campus correspondent for two local newspapers: the Davenport Times and the Morning Democrat.
Following his time at Augustana, Johnson taught 8th grade for several years; served as historian at the Rock Island Arsenal; received an MA in history at University of Iowa (1965); was a history instructor at Augustana College (1967-1969); taught at Dana College in Nebraska (1969-1974); received a PhD in history at University of Iowa (1971); and was visiting assistant professor at University of Nebraska in Omaha (1975-1977). In 1977, the Johnson family moved to Missouri where Niel began a new career as an archivist and oral historian at the Harry S Truman Library and Museum. He retired from this post in 1992 but has remained an active Truman re-enactor who performs at public events.
Verna Gail Applegate Johnson attended Augustana College from 1949-1953. She was a member of the Chi Delta sorority and her junior year she sang in the chapel choir. Niel and Verna met at Augustana and were married May 1, 1952, between their junior and senior years. They have two children.
This collection contains documents relating to the Johnsons' affiliation with Augustana College and specific groups on campus including the Augustana Choir, Rho Nu Delta, and the Observer. Niel Johnson continued to collect items pertaining to the college after he graduated including letters to alumni of the college, letters to alumni of the various groups to which he belonged, choir programs, homecoming programs, newspaper clippings, and photographs.
Verna's scrapbook contains newspaper clippings of campus events and wedding announcements, choir programs, and welcome cards from sororities.
Original order of the collection has been maintained. It is generally in chronological order with folders demarcating separate subjects and/or time periods. The papers relate to different aspects of Augustana College and have been arranged into three series: Academics, Extracurricular Activities, General, and Photographs.
The Academics series (1949-1953) contains items relating to Johnson's academic career at Augustana including class schedules, assignments, and exams.
The Extracurricular Activities series includes items relating to the groups that Niel and Verna Johnson belonged to while at Augustana. This series contains papers during their time at Augustana, but also demonstrates Niel's ties to these groups after leaving the college. This series makes up a large portion of the papers and points to his interests including sports, choir, the Observer, and Rho Nu Delta.
Included among these files are newspaper clippings, programs, scrapbooks, letters, newsletters and reunion information. Verna's scrapbook is also part of this series.
The General series are files created by Niel Johnson that contain a variety of types of information about Augustana arranged by time period. These files contain Augustana directories, newspaper clippings, programs, promotional materials, publications, newsletters, reports, among other items. The files that cover the period from 1967-1969 include items pertaining to the time that Johnson was an instructor in the department of history at Augustana. These particular papers give a glimpse of curriculum issues being discussed at this time as well as the scholarship that faculty members were involved in. The later files are composed of items relating to Johnson's position as an alumnus of the college and demonstrate his interest in the development of the school by way of clippings, programs, and newsletters that he sought out and saved.
Class notes and drafts, 1949-1953
Schedules and registration, 1951-1953
Sports, notebooks and scorebooks, 1952-1953
Sports, miscellaneous, 1952-1953
Niel scrapbook no. 1, 1952-1953, Augustana College Events
Niel scrapbook no. 2, 1952-1953, Augustana College Events
Niel scrapbook no. 3, 1952-1953, Augustana College Events
Observer, sampling, 1949-1953
Choir tour, 1953,
Verna scrapbook, 1949-1952 [oversize]
Music programs, 1949-2003 [2 folders]
Rho Nu Delta fraternity, 1950-1999 [2 folders]
Rho Nu Delta fraternity, Roundelite newsletters, 1950-1971
Miscellaneous, 1949-1953 [2 folders]
1960-1969 [3 folders]
1970-1989 [2 folders]
Photos, 1910-2008 [2 folders]
Library Dedication, 1990
Miscellaneous, 1979-1982, 1990, 1993, 1998-1999