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Call No.: Mss:831 1900-1976 J66
Repository: Baker Library Historical Collections, Harvard Business School, Harvard University
Creator: Benjamin Tanner Johnson, 1896-1978
Title: Benjamin Tanner Johnson papers
Quantity: 0.5 linear feet (1 box)
Language of materials: English
Abstract: Papers of attorney, businessman and 1921 HBS graduate Benjamin Tanner Johnson.
The 1920-1921 Harvard Business School class photograph has been removed to Box OS 5, HBS Archives Photograph Collection: Student Life, 1908-2005
Benjamin Tanner Johnson was born in Princeton, New Jersey in 1896 to John Quincy and Halle Johnson. He graduated from Howard University cum laude in 1919 and received his MBA from Harvard Business School in 1921. He was the third African American student to receive an MBA in HBS history. After graduating from HBS, Johnson worked for Roger Babson between 1921 to 1923 at the Babson Institute in Wellesley, Massachusetts as assistant to the treasurer in an accounting capacity. In 1923, Johnson began work as director of sales and advertising at the Royal Knights Insurance Company of Durham, North Carolina. In 1925, he moved to Canton, Ohio to work as the executive secretary to the Canton Urban League before settling in New London, Connecticut as a manager for the New England Peoples Finance Company between 1927 to 1934.Johnson left work in the private sector and had stints at the Works Progress Administration as a Connecticut state supervisor and the Social Security Board as a junior administrative assistant between 1936 and 1938. In 1939, Johnson became an Instructor in commerce and finance at Howard University while he attended the Calvin Coolidge School of Law. He earned his law degree in 1942 and returned to Boston. He was the state supervisor for the National Youth Administration between 1940-1942 before being appointed the deputy collector of internal revenue from 1943-1947. Johnson left the public sector and established his own law practice, where he worked for the remainder of his life. He died in 1978.
The Benjamin Tanner Johnson papers consist of correspondence, application documents, printed brochures, publications, newspaper clippings and photographs. The correspondence makes up the bulk of the material and dates from 1900 to 1968. Included are both incoming and outgoing correspondence with politicians and government employees as well as recommendation letters written on behalf of Johnson while he was seeking employment in the Civil Service and other government work. The letters touch on Johnson's strive and desire for employment and his extensive qualifications and background in administration and accounting. There are a few letters sent to Johnson from his father, the Rev. John Quincy Johnson, regarding work, updates on family and congratulations on the birth of his first son.