Robert and Naomi Johnson papers, 1936-2015

Emory University

Stuart A. Rose Manuscript, Archives, and Rare Book Library

Atlanta, GA 30322


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Collection Stored Off-Site

All or portions of this collection are housed off-site. Materials can still be requested but researchers should expect a delay of up to two business days for retrieval.

Descriptive Summary

Creator: Johnson, Robert E. (Robert Edward), 1922-1995.
Title: Robert and Naomi Johnson papers, 1936-2015
Call Number:Manuscript Collection No. 1428
Extent: 32.75 linear feet (32 boxes) and 4 oversized papers boxes (OP)
Abstract:Papers of journalist, editor, and publisher, Robert Johnson, including professional papers related to his work at Jet magazine, audiovisual material, personal papers, photographs, and memorabilia.
Language:Materials entirely in English.

Administrative Information

Restrictions on Access

Special restrictions apply: Use copies have not been made for audiovisual material in this collection. Researchers must contact the Rose Library at least two weeks in advance for access to these items. Collection restrictions, copyright limitations, or technical complications may hinder the Rose’s ability to provide access to audiovisual material.

Collection stored off-site. Researchers must contact the Rose Library in advance to access this collection.

Terms Governing Use and Reproduction

All requests subject to limitations noted in departmental policies on reproduction.


Purchased from Naomi C. Johnson, 2017.


[after identification of item(s)], Robert and Naomi Johnson papers, Stuart A. Rose Manuscript, Archives, and Rare Book Library, Emory University.

Appraisal Note

Acquired by Curator of African American Collections, Pellom McDaniels III, as part of the Rose Library’s holdings in African American History and Culture. Archives staff discarded 1.5 linear feet of memorabilia and personal affects at the time of accessioning. Pellom McDaniels, III removed 7 feet of plaques and realia to sell or offer to other institutions.


Arranged and described at the box level by Carrie Hintz, Meaghan O’Riordan, Sarah Quigley, and Laura Starratt, December 2017.

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Collection Description

Biographical Note

Robert Edward Johnson (1922-1995) was born in 1922 in Montgomery, Alabama. Johnson received his Bachelor of Arts degree in sociology from Morehouse College (Atlanta, Georgia) in 1948. That same year he began working as a journalist at the Atlanta Daily World and received his Master of Arts in Journalism in 1952 from Syracuse University (Syracuse, New York).

Johnson joined the staff of Jet magazine in 1953, beginning a long career with the publication. He became assistant managing editor, managing editor, and, ultimately, executive editor, and associate publisher of the weekly. In addition to his work at Jet, he authored the biography, Bill Cosby: In Words and Pictures, and was a frequent contributor to Ebony magazine.

He married Naomi Cole Johnson, and the couple had three children: Bobbye Johnson, Janet Johnson-Vinion, and Robert Edward Johnson, III. Johnson died in 1995 in Chicago, Illinois.

Scope and Content Note

The collection consists of the papers of Robert and Naomi Johnson from 1936-2015. It includes personal and professional papers, photographs, printed material, audiovisual material, and memorabilia documenting Robert Johnson’s career as an editor and journalist, as well as Johnson’s personal and civic life

Arrangement Note

Arranged by record type

Selected Search Terms

Uniform Title

Personal Names

Topical Terms

Container List

Box Folder Content
1 - Personal papers: family papers, correspondence, autographs, circa 1961-1995
2 - Personal papers: scrapbooks, appointment books, business cards, photographs, circa 1986-1995
3 - Personal papers, circa 1993
4 - Professional papers: press passes, programs, news clippings, circa 1964-1995
5 - Professional papers: Jet office, marketing, stationery, notes, circa 1966-1984
6 - Professional papers: interviews, press packets, press releases, 1966-2015
7 - Printed material, including Jet magazine, circa 1961-1998
8 - Photographs, contact sheets, negatives, slides, circa 1964-1988
9 - Photographs, contact sheets, negatives, circa 1970-1994
10 - Photograph albums, undated, and three Russian volumes, 1936
11 - Memorabilia: boxing gloves, baseballs, Ebony clutch, Richard Pryor tennis jacket, buttons, tie tacks, cuff links
12 - Plaques
OP1 1 Awards, honors, and memorabilia
OP2 1 Awards, honors, and memorabilia
OP3 1 Awards, honors, and memorabilia
OP4 1 Awards, honors, and memorabilia
13 - Personal and professional papers
14 - Audiovisual material: VHS tapes (14)
15 - Audiovisual material: VHS tapes (28), Beta cam tapes (1), floppy disk (1)
16 - Audiovisual material: VHS tapes (51)
17 - Audiovisual material: VHS tapes (44), Umatic tapes (1)
18 - Audiovisual material: Audiocassettes (171)
19 - Audiovisual material: Audiocassettes (155)
20 - Audiovisual material: Audiocassettes (210, 55 uncased)
21 - Audiovisual material: Audiocassettes (121)
22 - Audiovisual material: Audiocassettes (161)
23 - Audiovisual material: Audiocassettes (136,uncased)
24 - Audiovisual material: Audiocassettes (165), microcassettes (54), CD (1)
25 - Audiovisual material: Audiocassettes (199, 85 uncased), 8-track tape (1), microcassettes (96)
26 - Audiovisual material: Audiocassettes (121)
27 - Audiovisual material: Audiocassettes (144)
28 - Books, autographed or inscribed
29 - Books, autographed or inscribed
30 - Books, autographed or inscribed
31 - Books
32 - Artwork and awards, 1972-1992