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Papers of Dorothy Hodge Johnson, Dowdal Davis, Jr, and John A. Hodge

Call Number: RH MS 549


The Dorothy Hodge Johnson Collections consists of the papers of Dorothy Hodge Johnson, a lifelong Kansas Citian and African American social activist, as well as the papers of her first husband, Dowdal Davis, who was not only a leader in African American publishing, but also in the Kansas City metropolitan area. Smaller portions of the collection contain papers of John A. Hodge, Hodge Johnson's father and longtime principal of Sumner High School in Kansas City, Kansas, and Herman Johnson, Hodge Johnson's second husband.


  • 1900 - 2009


Conditions Governing Access

No access restrictions.

Conditions Governing Use

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

History of the Hodge and Davis families

Dorothy Hodge [Davis] Johnson was born on January 21, 1916 to John A. and Anna B. Hodge. A lifelong Kansas Citian, Dorothy graduated from Sumner High School in 1933. Her father, J.A. Hodge, served as principal of Sumner High from 1916-1950. Hodge entered the University of Kansas where she met Dowdal H. Davis. The two were married in 1937 on Thanksgiving Day. Dowdal H. Davis, Jr., was the son of an Independence physician. Before his death in 1957, Mr. Davis had held dozens of civic posts, championed numerous political and social causes and gained national attention as a journalist, civil servant, and leader.

Davis graduated from the University of Kanas with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in 1936. By the end of his professional career, he had served as general manager of the Call, a Missouri weekly, and as president of the Negro Newspaper Publishers Association (now known as the National Newspaper Publishers Association, or the Black Press of America). Other posts held by Davis include serving on the national board of directors for the National Urban League. Dowdal Davis' political career included a series of important appointments. In 1947, he was appointed to the Board of Advisory Trustees for Kansas City's 47 million dollar bond issue. After a failed attempt to gain a city council sear in 1951, Mr. Davis was named to the President's Committee on Government Contracts by Harry S. Truman. In 1957, Dowdal Davis became the first African American member of the Police Board of Commissioners for Kansas City, Missouri. Later that year, Davis succumbed to a heart attack. He had no children but was survived by his wife of 20 years, Dorothy Hodge Davis.

Dorothy graduated Phi Beta Kappa from the University of Kansas in 1936 with an A.B. degree in journalism. Her early professional career included service at the Kansas City Call, 1938-1944, and the regional office of the Office of Price Stabilization, 1944-1951. Mrs. Davis, long involved in social concerns, became executive director of the Florence Crittenden Home for Colored Girls.

After the death of her husband, Dowdal Davis, in 1957, Dorothy continued her post at the Florence Home as well as activitities with the Urban League and the Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority. In 1960, Mrs. Davis married Herman A. Johnson, a realtor, Urban League offical, and later Missouri State Representative. In the same year, she earned her Masters of Social Work degreee from the University of Kansas.

Dorothy Hodge Johnson engaged in a long and distinguished career in social work. Before her retirement in 1984, Johnson served as a caseworker, director of the Department of Health and Welfare, Jackson County, Missouri, and on the board and executive committee of Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas City, among other service positions to other Kansas City area foundations and non-profit organizations.


10.25 Linear Feet (16 boxes + 5 oversize boxes)

Scope and Contents

The papers of Dorothy Hodge Johnson are comprised not only of her own personal papers, but also of those of her first husband, Dowdal Davis, and the Davis family, as well as papers of her father, John A. Hodge, and the Hodge family. These three individuals form three separate manuscript series; each of these series includes personal papers, correspondence, and organizational records for each family member. Papers of the Davis and Hodge families are arranged under Dowdal Davis' and John Hodge's personal papers, respectively.

The collection also includes series devoted to plaques and artifacts, found at RH MS 549; certificates, newspaper clippings, and scrapbooks are located at RH MS Q94 and RH MS R88, according to size. Photographs make up a large portion of the collection, and are found at RH MS-P 549.

Materials from a later addition are listed at the end of the collection description. They consist of a scrapbook and loose items (inserts) from that scrapbook.

Physical Location

RH MS 549

Physical Location


Physical Location


Physical Location

RH MS-P 549

Physical Location

RH MS-P 549 (f)

Physical Location

RH MS 1253

Physical Location

RH MS Q351

Related Materials

Fächner, Anna Lea. "'Sirens Sound the Same' - Dorothy Hodge Johnson (1916-2004): An African American Civic Leader in Kansas City, Missouri." Thesis, Johann Wolfgang Goethe University, Frankfurt am Main. Available at Spencer Research Library at RH E745.

Guide to the Dorothy Hodge Johnson Collection
Papers of Dorothy Hodge Johnson, Dowdal Davis, Jr, and John A. Hodge
Finding aid prepared by adm, 2004; revised by mbw, 2012. Finding aid encoded by adm, 2005; revised by mbw, 2012; revised by eh, 2018.
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Finding aid written in<language encodinganalog="language">English.</language>
Support for the processing of this Collection was provided by the Dana and Sue Anderson African American Collecting Program Endowment Fund.
Finding aid permalink
Preferred citation
Papers of Dorothy Hodge Johnson, Dowdal Davis, Jr, and John A. Hodge, Kansas Collection, RH MS 549, 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