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Papers of A. I. Johnson

Identifier: WAIJ

Scope and Contents

The Papers of A. I. Johnson consists of documents dated 1948 to 2000, with the bulk falling from 1960 to 1997. The collection is composed mostly of professional writings authored or edited by Johnson related to water and soil issues. It represents perhaps half of his professional output. Documents cover topics in groundwater--artificial recharge, land subsidence, specific yield, water quality--Geographic Information Systems (GIS), and testing and measurement standards. About half are USGS reports, some prepared in cooperation with the California Department of Water Resources. Most others were published by the IAHS, ASTM and AWRA. Johnson's heavy involvement in the international hydrology community is reflected in the presence of conference proceedings and consulting reports. These appear in the collection in published form and do not have accompanying notes or annotations by Johnson. A 1994 resume and 1995 program marking the conferment of a doctor honoris causa degree from Hacettepe University, Antalya, Turkey, give a good overview of Johnson's career. The rest of the collection contains slides, which are of the Lompoc Project in California and several water-related field trips in Wyoming and Colorado.


  • Creation: 1948-2000
  • Creation: Majority of material found within 1960-1997


Restrictions on Access

There are no access restrictions on this collection. However, it is stored off-site, so advance notice is required.

Restrictions on Use

Not all of the material in the collection is in the public domain. Researchers are responsible for addressing copyright issues.


Arnold Ivan Johnson was a hydrologist known for his research on soil mechanics and water-related issues. He worked for the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) from 1948 to 1979, and his work in hydrology continued through the 1990s.

Johnson was born June 3, 1919, in Madison, Nebraska. After studying mathematics and science at Doane College, Crete, Nebraska, from 1937 to 1940, he served in the U.S. Navy from 1944 to 1946. He earned a B.S. in civil engineering from the University of Nebraska, Lincoln, in 1949 and a B.A. in mathematics in 1951. From 1951 to 1954 Johnson attended UNL as a graduate student, studying soil mechanics and soil physics.

During Johnson's career at the USGS, he worked as a leader and pioneering groundwater researcher. After serving as chief of the Nebraska Hydrologic Laboratory from 1948 to 1954, Johnson developed the National Hydrologic Laboratory in Denver, Colorado. He organized the National Water Resources Training Center, supervising the training of federal and state employees and foreign scientists engaged in hydrology from 1968 to 1971. In 1971, Johnson moved to Reston, Virginia, to work in the Office of Water Data Coordination, USGS, where he oversaw the water-data acquisition of over 30 federal agencies. He retired from government service in 1979 after 31 years.

After 1979, Johnson returned to Denver and worked with Woodward-Clyde as a consultant for five years before forming his own firm, A. Ivan Johnson, Inc., in 1984. Johnson was active internationally for much of the 1980s and 1990s, consulting and touring in Turkey, Mexico, Israel, Jordan, Egypt, Senegal, Morocco, the Sultanate of Oman, Russia, Finland, Japan, France, Australia, Germany, Hungary, and Italy.

Johnson, a registered professional engineer and an American Institute of Hydrology (AIH) Professional Hydrologist, authored or co-authored over 130 professional papers and reports. He was a board member or officer of many professional and scientific organizations, including the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE), American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) (chairman, Committee D18 on Soil and Rock, 1976-1982), American Water Resources Association (AWRA) (president, 1972), International Association of Hydrological Sciences (IAHS) (first vice president 1975-1979, honorary president 1987), and American Geophysical Union (AGU).

From the USGS, Johnson garnered the Department of Interior Merit (1962), Meritorious Service (1977), and John Wesley Powell awards (1992). In 1988 the ASTM gave Johnson the first William T. Cavanaugh Award for Standards Eminence (ASTM's highest award). He also received the AWRA President's Outstanding Service (1982) and Icko Iben Awards (1986), IAHS Honorary President Award (1987), ASCE Royce J. Tipton Award (1992), ANSI Finegan Standards Medal (1993), AIH C. V. Theis Award (1995), and many more. Since 1995, the ASTM has given an annual A. Ivan Johnson award to reward a member of Committee D18 on Soil and Rock for outstanding contributions to the committee.

Johnson and his wife, Betty, were married in 1947 and had three children. Johnson died in 2011.


3.75 linear feet (2 record cartons, 2 document boxes)

Language of Materials



Arnold Ivan Johnson (1919-2011) was a hydrologist who worked for the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) for over 30 years researching soil mechanics and water-related issues. A member of many professional organizations and over 50 committees and symposia, he served as First Vice President of the International Association of Hydrological Sciences (IAHS) from 1975 to 1979 and received the Meritorious Service Award from the U.S. Department of the Interior. The collection primarily contains publications, reports, and conference proceedings by Johnson, many from his tenure at the USGS. The collection also contains slides and Johnson's resume.


The materials in the collection arrived in no particular order and were rearranged into two series by material type.

The collection consists of 2 series in 4 boxes:

Series 1: Writings, 1952-2000 and undated

Subseries 1.1: USGS publications, 1952-1995 and undated

Subseries 1.2: Other writings, 1958-2000 and undated

Series 2: Slides, 1948-1959 and undated


The Papers of A. I. Johnson was donated to the Water Resources Archive by his son, Robert Johnson, in October 2010.

Related Collections

The Water Resources Archive has several related collections containing water and soil-focused USGS projects and reports, including the Groundwater Data Collection, the Papers of Whitney M. Borland, and the Papers of Robert E. Glover. The donor simultaneously gave materials to Doane College, Crete, Nebraska, and researchers might find a portion of Johnson's papers there.


Processing was completed in August 2011. Two boxes of publications not authored by Johnson were weeded upon accessioning. USGS reprints of reports originally printed elsewhere were not kept if the original printing was present. Duplicates past the first two were removed. Materials were placed in acid-free folders, and plastic sleeves and rubber bands were removed. Metal paper clips were replaced with plastic ones as needed. Written materials were reordered chronologically. Slides were removed from cardboard slide boxes and a metal slide container and rehoused in archival slide sleeves and acid-free folders. Some jumbled slides were rearranged to fit the categories originally specified by Johnson, and some damaged, unlabelled ones were discarded.

Inventory Note

Note: Title information supplied by the archivist is bracketed. Estimated pagination is preceded by an "e." Two identical copies of the same item are indicated by the phrase "2 copies" at the end of the entry, following the number of pages of each copy. Authored articles, books, and studies are listed in bibliographic form.

Guide to the Papers of A. I. Johnson
Edited Full Draft
Prepared by Clarissa J. Trapp and Patricia J. Rettig
Copyright 2011
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English.

Repository Details

Part of the CSU Libraries Archives & Special Collections Repository

Fort Collins Colorado 80523-1019 USA