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Jean Irwin Johnson, Ph.D.


Jean Irwin Johnson, Ph.D. (1925-2022) joined the faculty of the University of Rochester School of Nursing in 1979, and was Associate Director of Nursing Oncology at the University's Cancer Center from 1979 to 1993. Johnson was a pioneer in nursing research, focused on stress and coping with physical illness (with an emphasis on surgical and cancer patients). Through her work the disciplines of nursing and psychology became more closely integrated. Johnson also played a prominent role in graduate nursing education.


Jean ElaineJean Irwin Johnson Johnson was born in Wilsey, Kansas on 11 March 1925 to William H. and Rosa (Welty) Irwin. She received her undergraduate degree in home economics and nursing from Kansas State University (Manhattan) in 1948; her masters in nursing from Yale University (1965); and her masters (1969) and doctorate (1971) in social psychology from the University of Wisconsin (Madison).

Between 1948 and 1958 Johnson taught in nursing schools in Iowa, Kansas and Colorado. From 1958 to 1960 she was on the nursing staff of the Swedish Hospital, Englewood, Colorado. Prior to entering the masters program at Yale, she was In-Service Education Coordinator at the General Rose Hospital in Denver (1960-1963). From 1965 to 1967 Johnson was a Research Assistant at the Yale University School of Nursing. After completing her doctoral work in 1971, she was appointed Associate Professor at Wayne State University College of Nursing, where in 1974 she was made Professor & Director of the Center for Health Research. In 1979 Johnson came to the University of Rochester as Professor of Nursing, Associate Director of Nursing Oncology at the University's Cancer Center, and Clinical Chief for Oncology Nursing at Strong Memorial Hospital. She retired from the Cancer Center in 1993, but retained her professorships in the Cancer Center and the School of Nursing.

Johnson was the first nurse to serve on many grant and review committees, such as the Behavioral Medicine Study Section of the National Institutes of Health (1982-1986), and the American Cancer Society's Advisory Committee on Psychosocial and Behavioral Research (1987-1991). She was also elected to the governing council of the Institutes of Medicine (1987-1991).

Johnson was the author of more than fifty scholarly articles and book chapters. She was a fellow in the American Academy of Nursing, the American Psychological Association, the Academy of Behavioral Medical Research, and the American Association for the Advancement of Science. Johnson was also a member of the Institutes of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences.

Among her numerous awards are: Distinguished Contribution to Nursing Science of the American Nurses' Foundation (1983); Distinguished Researcher Award of the Oncology Nursing Society (1992); and Outstanding Contributions to Nursing & Health Psychology of the American Psychological Association (1993).

Organization of the Collection

Johnson presented her papers to the Rare Books & Manuscripts section of the Edward G. Miner Library in the summer of 1993. Processing was completed on 23 December 1993. In June 1995, Johnson transferred some of the remaining files from her office to the archives (boxes 35-39). The papers of Jean Irwin Johnson are contained in thirty-nine boxes, and occupy twenty-one linear feet in the Library's Archives.

The Johnson papers provide an invaluable record of the career of a major figure in nursing research. Perhaps the collection's greatest strength is the complete record of Johnson's grant- funded research in surgical/cancer patient psychology spanning a period of nearly thirty years (1966-1992).

The boxes comprising the papers of Jean Irwin Johnson are arranged in the following series:

  • General (Boxes 1-3)
  • Reprints/Publications (Box 4)
  • Papers given at meetings (Boxes 5-6)
  • Grant Funded Research (Boxes 7-20)
  • Education (Box 21)
  • Supervised Masters Theses (Boxes 22-23)
  • Files closed until the year 2040 (Boxes 26-30)
  • Calendars (Box 31)
  • Memorabilia (Boxes 32-34)
  • June 1995 Addenda (Boxes 35-39)

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