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Diaries of Anna Johnson

Call Number: RH MS 1421


This collection consists of the diaries of farmer's wife Anna L. Johnson, who lived most of her life in Columbus, Cherokee County, Kansas. The diaries follow most of her adult life. Also in the collection are some birthday books, address books, and diaries Johnson specifically kept for trips she made.


  • Creation: 1910, 1920-1924, 1928-1950, 1956-1970, 1986, 1988


Conditions Governing Access

No access restrictions.

Conditions Governing Use

Spencer Library staff may determine use restrictions dependent on the physical condition of manuscript materials.

Biography of Anna L. Johnson

Anna L. Gleason was born November 15, 1885 in Minooka, Grundy County, Illinois to parents Albert Daniel (1859-1909) and Ida Minerva (Gorham) Gleason (1861-1935). She was the eldest of their four children, and her younger siblings included sister Ida May (Gleason) Amos (1887-1966) and brothers Charles Daniel (1888-1974), known as Chas to the family, and William Albert (1891-1978), called Will or Willie. By 1900 the family were living in Dickinson County, Iowa, and by 1910 the family had settled in Cherokee County, Kansas.

On January 13, 1913, Anna Gleason married C. Floyd Johnson, a native of Cherokee County who had been born January 13, 1890 to parents Lewis Alexander (1861-1941) and Idora (Mayer) Johnson (1863-1934). His younger siblings who survived to adulthood included sisters Aretha Mabel (Johnson) Allen, Elsie Eileen (Johnson) Card, and Bertha F. (Johnson) Price.

Anna and Floyd Johnson had one son, Lewis Moore, born on August 8, 1918 and known as Moore throughout his life. He graduated from Columbus High School and earned a business degree in accounting from the Chillicothe Community College (C.C.C.) before marrying June Catherine Walker on December 22, 1940. During World War II he was with the Army Air Core and was stationed in England. Moore and June had two children, Charles ("Chuck") and Michael. June died in March 1980, and Moore Johnson remarried in 1981 to Adelina M. Munoz.

The family farmed and operated the Columbus Grain Elevator in Columbus, KS until 1982, when Moore Johnson sold the business.

C. Floyd Johnson died at home June 26, 1967. Anna L. Johnson died April 15, 1990. Their son Moore Johnson died June 10, 2014.


2.25 Linear Feet (5 document cases)

Language of Materials


Scope and Contents

The bulk of this collection consists of Anna Johnson's diaries. There is one diary from before her marriage to Floyd Johnson but after they had stated courting each other; the rest all date from 1920 to 1970, with some gap years. Most years Johnson was diligent about writing daily or nearly daily; other years there are extensive gaps in her recordkeeping.

Topics generally covered by Johnson include the weather; comings and goings of immediate and extended family and friends; attending Sunday School, church, and other religious activities; yard work, house chores, and bookkeeping for the family businesses; holidays; family and community events, including births, marriages, deaths, and funerals; momentous or unusual events, such as a tornado in Columbus in March 1938 and the June 8, 1966 tornadoes in Topeka and elsewhere in Kansas; day trips and other short trips to Joplin, Springfield, or Kansas City, Missouri or to Oswego, Pittsburg, Topeka, and other towns in Kansas; and national events, such as the death of Calvin Coolidge and significant occasions of World War II. Sometimes she notes household accounting information, such as costs for groceries and other items, or income received.

Johnson frequently notes when she or other family members are ill or feeling poorly, and there are many entries where Johnson notes she could not get out of bed or got dressed but did not feel up to doing chores or leaving the house. Johnson also sometimes describes her emotional concerns and difficulties, notably in 1935 after her mother dies, during World War II while son Moore is stationed overseas and other friends' and family members' sons are in danger, and in 1967 and the following years after her husband Floyd dies.

The diaries are organized chronologically. Materials tipped into a diary, such as notes about guests at teas or dinners; hotel receipts; cards from friends or family, and other items have been left in the volumes where found. There are a handful of travel diaries Johnson kept for extensive vacations in Florida or Colorado, and these are interfiled with the annual diaries.

Also in the collection are three address books; two birthday books in which Johnson also noted other important family events, including marriages and deaths; two school color photographs of Gleason children from 1986 and 1988; and a campaign card for Cecil Coker running for sheriff in an unknown Kansas county.

Physical Location

RH MS 1421

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gift, Michael Ellis, 2015.

Processing Information

The entire collection was vacuumed and several volumes in the collection frozen for mold treatment in 2017.

Guide to the Anna L. Johnson Collection
Diaries of Anna Johnson
Finding aid compiled by mwh, 2017. Finding aid encoded by mwh, 2017.
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Finding aid written in English.
Finding aid permalink
Preferred citation
Diaries of Anna Johnson, RH MS 1421, Kenneth Spencer Research Library, University of Kansas

Repository Details

Part of the University of Kansas. Kenneth Spencer Research Library Repository

1450 Poplar Lane
Lawrence KS 66045-7616 United States