Guide to the Nicholas Johnson Papers

Collection Overview

Date Span: 1949-
Creator: Johnson, Nicholas (1934-)
Extent: 400.00 linear feet.
Collection Number: MSC0240
Repository: University of Iowa Special Collections
Summary: Writer, lawyer, lecturer. Johnson was born in Iowa City; took undergraduate and law degrees at the University of Texas at Austin; clerked with Chief Justice Hugo Black; taught law at Berkeley; and worked briefly for the Washington firm of Covington & Burling. Became Maritime Administrator in the Department of Commerce 1964-1966; Commissioner of the Federal Communications Commission 1966-1973. Much of his later career has stemmed from his work with television and radio policy at the FCC. More biographical and other information can be found at Johnson's website,>.

Administrative Information

Alternate Extent Statement: Photographs; film/video; audio

Access: This collection is open for research.

Use: Copyright restrictions may apply; please consult Special Collections staff for further information.

Acquisition: This collection was acquired as a series of purchases from Angus Wilson and Tony Garrett beginning in 1968. The initial portion of the collection was processed beginning in 1968. The majority of the papers were processed in 2007-2008. Some materials were incorporated into the Wilson Papers from Margaret Drabble's Angus Wilson: A Biography Research Files (MsC 199A) in 2008. Adu Jussawalla donated a few items, all related to AW in India, to the collection in March 2010.

Preferred Citation: Nicholas Johnson Papers, The University of Iowa Libraries, Iowa City, Iowa.

Repository: University of Iowa Special Collections
Address: Special Collections Department
University of Iowa Libraries
Iowa City, IA 52242
Phone: 319-335-5921
Curator: Greg Prickman

Biographical Note

Nicholas Johnson was born in Iowa City in 1934. His father, Wendell Johnson, a leading speech pathologist and world expert on stuttering, was a faculty member at the University of Iowa. Johnson finished high school in Iowa City and went on to the University of Texas at Austin for both undergraduate and law degrees. He clerked with Chief Justice Hugo Black, taught law at Berkeley, and worked briefly for the Washington firm of Covington & Burling. In 1964, he was appointed Maritime Administrator in the Department of Commerce and served in that position until 1966. He was then appointed a Commissioner of the Federal Communications Commission, serving until 1973. Much of his later career as lecturer, professor of law, and writer has stemmed from his work with television and radio policy at the FCC. His entry in Who's Who is reproduced below. Vastly more biographical and other information can be found at Johnson's website, . The following is an excerpt from Who's Who in America.
JOHNSON, NICHOLAS, writer, lawyer, lecturer; b. Iowa City, Sept. 23, 1934; s. Wendell A.L. and Edna (Bockwoldt) J.; m. Karen Mary Chapman, 1952 (div. 1972); children: Julie, Sherman, Gregory; m. Mary Eleanor Vasey, 1991. B.A., U. Tex., 1956, LL.B., 1958; L.H.D., Windham Coll., 1971. Bar: Tex. 1958, D.C. 1963, U.S. Supreme Ct. 1963, Iowa 1974; lic. radio amateur. Law clk. to judge John R. Brown, U.S. 5th Circuit Ct. Appeals, 1958-59; law clk. to U.S. Supreme Ct. Justice Hugo L. Black, 1959-60; acting assoc. prof. law U. Calif. at Berkeley, 1960-63; assoc. Covington & Burling, Washington, 1963-64; adminstr. Maritime Adminstrn., chmn. Maritime Subsidy Bd. U.S. Dept. Commerce, 1964-66; commr. FCC, 1966-73; adj. prof. law Georgetown U., 1971-73; Poynter fellow Yale U., 1971; vis. prof. U. Ill., Champaign-Urbana, 1976, U. Okla., Norman, 1978, Ill. State U., Normal, 1979, U. Wis., Madison, 1980, Newhouse Sch., Syracuse U., 1980, U. Iowa Coll. Law, 1981-; vis. prof. dept. communications studies U. Iowa, 1982-85; vis. prof. Western Behavioral Scis. Inst., U. Calif., San Diego, 1986-91; vis. prof. Calif. State U., Los Angeles, 1986; co-dir. U. Iowa Inst. for Health, Behavior and Environ. Policy, 1990-93; chmn., dir. Nat. Citizens Comm. Lobby, 1975--, Nat. Citizens Com. for Broadcasting, 1974-78; pub. access, 1975-77; commentator Nat. Pub. Radio, 1975-77, 83-86, Sta. WRC-AM, Washington, 1977, Sta. WSUI, Iowa City, 1982-87; presdl. advisor White House Conf. on Libraries and Info. Services, 1979; exec. com. World Acad. Art and Sci., 1993-97. Author: Cases and Materials on Oil and Gas Law, 1962, How to Talk Back to Your Television Set, 1970, Japanese transl., 1971, Life Before Death in the Corporate State. 1971, Test Pattern for Living, 1972, Broadcasting in America, 1973, Cases and Materials on Communications Law and Policy, 1981, 82, 83, 84, 85, 86, Readings for Law of Electronic Media, 1993-94, (with David Loundy) Law of Electronic Media in a Cyberspace Age, 1996; syndicated columnist: Gannett News Service, 1982-84, Register and Tribune Syndicate, 1984, Cowles Syndicate, 1985-86, King Features Syndicate, 1986; contbr. to legal, gen., internal. publs.; contbg. editor, host PBS The New Tech Times, 1983-84. Dem. candidate for U.S. Ho. of Reps. from 3d Iowa Dist., 1974; bd. dirs. Internat. Soc. Gen. Semantics, Iowa City [Iowa] Community School District, Vols. in Tech. Assistance (VITA); mem. adv. bd. Ctr. for Media Edn., Cultural Environ. Movement, Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting, Inst. for Public Accuracy, Planet Ctrl. TV, Hightower and Assocs., Project Censored, War and Peace Found., Working Assets Long Distance; mem. Broadband and Telecom. Commn., Iowa City, 1981-87. Named One of 10 Outstanding Young Men in U.S., U.S. Jaycees, 1967, recipient New Republic Pub. Defender award, 1970, Civil Liberties Award Ga. ACLU, 1972, DeWitt Carter Reddick award U. Tex., 1977, George Stoney award Nat. Fedn. Local Cable Programmers, 1987; fellow World Acad. Art and Sci.

Content Description

Johnson's papers document in detail his long and complex career. They are currently housed in more than 750 document boxes, span some 400 linear feet, and have been arranged in roughly chronological order. The inventory in electronic form runs over 300K and is presented here in three parts so they will load more quickly. Please note, however, that the chronological division is not fully realized and that earlier materials are sometimes found later in the sequence -- i.e., while the bulk of materials relating to the Maritime Administration are described in section II, some will be found in section III; and FCC materials, which primarily constitute section II, are also found in section III.

Detailed Description of the Collection

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This collection is indexed under the following subject terms.

Film & Television Writing and Directing
Study of Theatre Arts and Popular Culture