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Howard P. Johnson papers

Identifier: RS 9/7/15

  • Staff Only

Scope and Content

This collection (1952-2005, undated) contains materials related to Johnson's professional career in the Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering Department at Iowa State University as well as his time spent serving in World War II. The collection includes biographical information, correspondence, and published research articles. In addition, the papers also include a map of the Boyer River in western Iowa. The collection also contains correspondence and administrative material related to the Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering Department. The World War II materials include nearly 400 letters between Johnson and his family. In addition, other war-related materials were also included such as wartime ephemera, publications and reminiscences.


  • 1942-2005, undated

Language of Materials


Access Restrictions

Open for research.

Use/Re-use Restrictions

Consult Special Collections and University Archives


Howard Paul Johnson was born to Gust and Ruth Johnson on January 27, 1923, in Odebolt, Iowa. Johnson received his B.S. (1949) and M.S. (1950) in agricultural engineering and Ph.D. (1959) in agricultural and civil engineering from Iowa State University. He earned an M.S. (1954) in engineering mechanics from the University of Iowa. In 1942, Johnson was inducted into the U.S. Army and served in the 69th Infantry Division. His unit served in the European theater from January 1945 until the end of the war.

During his graduate studies, Johnson worked at Iowa State as a part-time Lab Instructor (1949-1950), Research Associate (1950-1953), and Instructor (1954-1959) in the Department of Agricultural (and Biosystems) Engineering. Upon completion of his Ph.D., he joined the faculty of Iowa State as an Assistant Professor (1959) in the same department. He was promoted to Associate Professor (1960-1962) and Professor (1960-1988) and also served as Department Head (1981-1988). He retired in 1988.

Johnson's main research and teaching interests were on the impact agricultural practices had on land and water resources. He authored or co-authored over 100 published articles on hydrology, hydraulics, drainage, watershed management, and related topics. He also wrote Agricultural Engineering Century: Iowa State University (call no. S678.53.U6 J64x 2005), a history of the Department of Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering at Iowa State University.

He was a member of several scientific and professional societies and the recipient of numerous awards. Johnson was elected fellow of the American Society of Agricultural Engineers (ASAE) and the American Association for the Advancement of Science. He received several awards from ASAE including the Hancor Soil and Water Engineering Award (1978) and the John Deere Gold Medal (1994). Iowa State named him an Anson Marston Distinguished Professor of Engineering in 1986. Johnson also served on numerous college and departmental committees while at Iowa State including the University Water Resources Committee, the Iowa State Water Resources Research Institute Council, and the ISU Press text review committee.

Howard Johnson married Patricia Larsen of Ames and together they had three children: Cynthia, Lynette, and Malcolm. As of 2006, the Johnsons reside in Ames, Iowa.


6.36 Linear Feet (8 document boxes, 1 oversized box, 1 tube, and 1 map case folder)


The collection is organized into two series:

Series 1, Iowa State University career, 1952-2005, undated

Series 2, World War II letters and ephemera, 1942-2003, undated

Items in related collections

RS 9/7. Iowa State University. Department of Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering records, 1905-2013

Processing Information

Released on 2018-11-01.

RS 9/7/15. Howard P. Johnson papers, 1942-2005, undated
January 22, 2019
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
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Repository Details

Part of the Special Collections and University Archives Repository

403 Parks Library
701 Morrill Road
Iowa State University
Ames Iowa 50011-2102 United States
(515) 294-6672