Harry S. B. Johnson Papers
Scope and Contents
The Harry S. B. Johnson papers, 1948-1975 and undated, contains professional correspondence and other documents recording Johnson's activities as the Dean of Men at Augustana College in the 1950s. Topics include students’ academic standing, campus housing accommodations, and disciplinary actions. The Harry S. B. Johnson papers are arranged in the following series:
Series I. Correspondence as Dean of Men, 1949-1956
Series II. Miscellaneous, 1948-1975
Within the miscellaneous series is a folder of correspondence related to Mashood Olabisi Ajala, a Nigerian student who traveled to the United States in 1949 to study at Augustana. Ajala was the first Nigerian student to attend Augustana on a tuition scholarship, with the remainder of his fees being financed by a Nigerian barrister. When his benefactor passed away at the end of Ajala's first semester and the college was unable to cover the remainder of his fees for that year, Ajala was forced to drop out of school and move to Chicago, Illinois. At the advice of Johnson and others, Ajala sought admission to several "Negro" colleges, including Knoxville College and Fisk University in Tennessee, hoping that he might be able to obtain financial aid on the basis of his financial need and race, but he was unsuccessful.
During the summer of 1950, Ajala worked as an orderly at Presbyterian Hospital in Chicago and sent some of his earnings back to Augustana to settle his debt for the preceeding year. He attended George Williams College for a short time and attempted to gain admission to Loyola University, but ultimately became a student at De Paul University in Chicago in 1951.
Ajala's financial difficulties and poor academic performance left a dark mark on the burgeoning Nigerian exchange program. In a 30 November 1950 letter from Faculty Secretary Herbert L. Glynn to Guy L. Schuytama, George Williams College Registrar, Glynn remarks that Ajala's attendance "resulted in a deluge of correspondence from Nigerians who were anxious to receive full scholarships at Augustana" and that "Ajala's performance resulted in summarily dismissing any hope of attendance here by his fellow countrymen."
Ajala would go on to achieve great fame in Nigeria and Africa for his travels in the late 1950s, when he first completed a 30-day bicycle lecture tour from Chicago to Los Angeles, California, before ultimately visiting approximately 87 countries in six years, largely traveling by bike or scooter. His book about his travels, An African Abroad, was widely read in Africa and gave birth to the African idiom "Ajala the Traveler."
- 1948-1975 and undated
Conditions Governing Access
Material in boxes 1-4 closed to researchers 80 years from the date of creation.
Conditions Governing Use
Unpublished manuscripts are protected by copyright. Permission to publish, quote, or reproduce must be secured from Augustana College Special Collections and the copyright holder.
Harry Sigfrid Bernard Johnson was born 1 August 1912 in Blue Island, Illinois. He attended local Blue Island schools and Augustana College in Rock Island, Illinois, where he graduated in 1934. Four years later he graduated from the Augustana Theological Seminary. He did graduate work at the University of Chicago in Chicago, Illinois during the summers of 1942, 1944, 1945, and 1946. From 1938 to 1942, Johnson worked at the parish ministry of Bethesda Lutheran Church in Morrison, Illinois. In 1940 he began teaching at Augustana College as a part-time Greek teacher, and in 1942 he became a full-time professor. Johnson taught Greek, Classics, Swedish, and courses in the Christianity Department at Augustana College. From 1945 forward, he also served as the Dean of Men and the tennis coach, and the Coordinator of Public Events. In 1960, the Augustana Theological Seminary awarded him an honorary doctorate. Johnson worked at Augustana College until he passed away in 1976.
Johnson served on the board of directors at the Lutheran Hospital in Moline, Illinois. He was a chairman of the Illinois Conference of Life and Growth of the former Augustana Synod, the Department of Social Missions, Illinois Synod, and the Lutheran Church in America. He was the president of the Augustana Chapter of The American Scandinavian Foundation, a member of the Illinois Classical Conference, and a past president of the Illinois Association of Deans and Advisers of Men. Johnson married Verna Olson 23 July 1938, and together they had two children: David (b. 1940) and Lois (b. 1944). He passed away in 1976 at age 63.
1.6 Cubic Feet (/ 5 boxes)
Language of Materials
Harry S. B. Johnson served as a professor and, later, Dean of Men at Augustana College from 1940 to 1976. The Harry S. B. Johnson papers, 1948-1975 and undated, contains professional correspondence and other documents recording Johnson's activities as the Dean of Men at Augustana College in the 1950s. Topics include students’ academic standing, campus housing accommodations, and disciplinary actions. Included is a folder of material related to a Nigerian student named Mashood Olabisi Ajala, who studied at Augustana for approximately one year before being forced to leave due to financial difficulty.
Immediate Source of Acquisition
Immediate source of acquisition unknown.
Processed by Kelsey O'Connell, 2010. Revised by Atticus Garrison, May 2016.
- African American universities and colleges
- Ajala, Olabisi
- Andreen, Gustav Albert, 1864-1940
- Augustana College (Rock Island, Ill.) -- Administration
- Augustana College (Rock Island, Ill.) -- Faculty
- Augustana College (Rock Island, Ill.) -- Students
- College students, Black
- Nigeria -- Emigration and immigration
- Harry S. B. Johnson papers, 1948-1975 and undated.
- Atticus Garrison
- May 2016
- Description rules
- Describing Archives: A Content Standard
- Language of description
- Script of description
- Code for undetermined script
- Language of description note
Part of the Augustana College Special Collections Repository
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Thomas Tredway Library
Rock Island Illinois 61201 United States