Rossiter Johnson Papers

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Rossiter Johnson papers
Creator: Johnson, Rossiter, 1840-1931
Call Number: D.164
Dates: circa 1886-1931
Physical Description: 1 box
Language(s): Materials are in English
Repository: Rare Books, Special Collections, and Preservation, River Campus Libraries, University of Rochester

Table of Contents:

Biographical/Historical Note
Scope and Content
Related Materials
Content List
Collection Overview
Title: Rossiter Johnson papers
Creator: Johnson, Rossiter, 1840-1931
Call Number: D.164
Dates: circa 1886-1931
Physical Description: 1 box
Language(s): Materials are in English
Repository: Rare Books, Special Collections, and Preservation, River Campus Libraries, University of Rochester

Biographical/Historical Note
Rossiter Johnson, writer and editor, was born in Rochester, New York on January 27, 1840. He graduated from the University of Rochester, Class of 1863. The honorary degrees of Ph.D and L.L.D. were conferred upon him by the University in 1888 and 1893 respectively. Johnson was the author of a wide variety of books, mostly classical and historical literature. Among his best known works was "Phaeton Rogers" a story of boy life in early Rochester. Johnson edited several important encyclopedias, dictionaries, books, and was one of the first editors to publish "pocket" editions of the classics. He held a number of positions, president of New York Association of P.B.K., 1897-1898, president of The People's University Extension Society of New York City, 1898- first president of the Society of the Genesee, 1899; successively secretary, chairman, and treasurer of the New York Authors Club, 1890-1914; and member of the Century Association. Johnson was married twice. His first wife was Helen Kendrick, daughter of Asahel Clark Kendrick, a long­time faculty member at the University of Rochester, and his second wife was Mary Agnes Keyes. He had two daughters and a son. Johnson died on October 3, 1931, at his home in Amagansett, Long Island at the age of 91.

Scope and Content
This collection consists of Rossiter Johnson's manuscript memoirs, "The Gossip of a Lifetime," part 1 and part 2. The manuscript discussed Johnson's early life and experiences in Rochester, New York along with his later life in New York City including his jobs, his associations with people, and his literary career and works. The collection also contains letters of amendments, and a contract between Johnson, Oscar Fay Adams, and Ticknor and Company for publishing.

Johnson, Rossiter, 1840-1931 -- Gossip of a lifetime
Authors, American
The Rossiter Johnson papers is open for research use. Researchers are advised to contact Rare Books, Special Collections, and Preservation prior to visiting. Upon arrival, researchers will also be asked to fill out a registration form and provide photo identification.Use
Reproductions are made upon request but can be subject to restrictions. Permission to publish materials from the collection must currently be requested. Please note that some materials may be copyrighted or restricted. It is the researcher's obligation to determine and satisfy copyright or other case restrictions when publishing or otherwise distributing materials found in the collections. For more information contact rarebks@library.rochester.eduCitation
[Item title, item date], Rossiter Johnson papers, D.164, Rare Books, Special Collections, and Preservation, River Campus Libraries, University of RochesterRelated Materials
An article on Rossiter Johnson and quotes from his recollections of local figures appeared in the University of Rochester Library Bulletin, 16:2 (Winter 1961), 21-36.

Administrative Information
Author: Jessica McCane
Publisher: Rare Books, Special Collections, and Preservation, River Campus Libraries, University of Rochester
Rush Rhees Library
Second Floor, Room 225
Rochester, NY 14627-0055

Content List
Box 1, Folder 1"Gossip of a Lifetime," part 1
The pages are numbered from 1-272 and are split into thirty-five sections, which are erroneously numbered as he repeats sections and page numbers. Johnson seems to write in chronological order, for the most part, as he writes first of when he was young and then moves throughout his life. Though he does include, in paragraphs or in attached pages, short essays narrating other details of his life, which jumps ahead in time to different parts of his life.

Johnson goes into detail about his early work and childhood, specifically what led him to literature and what led him through the early days of his career. He also writes about the various family trips he took, including a tour of Europe and a trip out West, he and his wife, Helen, took. There are various references, throughout this volume, to people like Robert Carter and Edward L. Burlingame, regarding multi-volume dictionaries and encyclopedias, to various biographies. In the final section he goes into detail on him and his wife's actions within the anti-suffrage movement, as well as his opinions on the suffrage movement in general.

Section 1(I): Johnson recounts his earliest memories as a child.

Section 2(II): Descriptions of his love for his childhood home, and descriptions of various his school teachers or principals.

Section 3(III): Descriptions of Johnson's experiences at the circus when he was young.

Section 20 (XX): After the revised American Cyclopaedia was produced, Johnson and his wife went to Europe, using the White Star Steamer Germanic. He includes a description of their time abroad.

Section 21 (XXI): Description of his interaction with Richard Realf and his "Guesses at the Beautifice."

Section 22-25 (XXII-XXV): Further description of Johnson and his wife's tour of Europe.

Section 26 (XXVI): Johnson returned home from their trip abroad, describes the multitude of work he engages in, including: work with Edward L. Burlingame, Loyall Farragut, William Cullen Bryan and Sydney Howard Gay on the rest of a four volume work on the "History of the United States." He moves his family to Staten Island.

Section 27 (XXVII): Brief discussion of his youth and then about writing a history of the War of 1812 between the United States and Britain.

Section 28 (XXVIII): Descriptions of editing Appleton's Annual Cyclopaedia. Then asked to edit the Cyclopaedia of American Biography.

Section 29 (XIX): Describes him, his wife, and their daughter, Florence, taking a trip west, to the Pacific.

Section 30 (XX): Continued description of his family's trip west. Brief discussions of the Indians living in these territories.

Section 31 (XXI): Describes the death of Robert Browning. He lists other famous English authors he had met or admired: Charles Dickens, James B. Shaw, etc.

Section 32 (XXII): Began working with a team on the new dictionary, The Standard, as an associate editor with Isaac K. Funk.

Section 33 (XXIII): The Columbian Composition in Chicago asked him to help with another multi-volume set with numbered views and portraits. He worked under Appleton and Co.

Section 34 (XXIV): Spoke about his idea and collected notes for a book on rhetoric, and how he had collected information for years and felt it was time to put them into a shape.

Section 35 (XXV): Describes Helen, his wife, and her work in the anti-suffrage movement, including her publication called "Woman and the Republic."

Box 1, Folder 2"Gossip of a Lifetime," part 2
The pages are numbered in the top right corner, from 274-349, and are split into twenty-five sections (XXVI-L). The order towards the end of the volume is erroneous because he repeats section and page numbers. Unlike the first volume, the second is not in chronological order, it is split into sections that include his musings on various topics or moments in his life.

This volume begins with Johnson speaking less about his life and more about his general thoughts and opinions, including anecdotes regarding people he has met throughout his life. Towards the end of the book, he includes more stories about his various dissatisfaction with life. He includes a large section that lists all the times in which he met a well-known person, (Section 44, XXXIV), from Ulysses S. Grant to Susan B. Anthony.

The front of the book holds various newspaper clippings, as well as his own handwritten notes and letters regarding manuscripts.

Section 36 (XXVI): Description of Johnson's first contribution to the Continental Monthly with his publication of "An Indian Love Song." He the Author Club that he entered and was still a member of forty years later. He discusses his contributions to the club's publishing of "Liber Scriptorum."

Section 37 (XXVII): Descriptions of moving his family out of New York, after sixteen years, to a small village, Amagansett, and building a house there named Bluff Cottage.

Section 38 (XXVIII): Descriptions of Mrs. Smith of Jersey City, "Aesthetic Society." Quotes David Law Proudfit's poem from the Society meetings.

Section 39 (XXIX): Describes his feelings on the "queerness" of the publishing companies and the publishers that he has encountered. Describes his experience publishing, and receiving reviews on his "Condensed Classics."

Section 40 (XXX): Describes the shortcomings with literature, how people had been able to take shortcuts. He describes other aspects of his society that he is dissatisfied with, including woman suffrage. Also describes his wife, Helen Kendrick Johnson, and her work in the anti-suffrage movement.

Section 41 (XXXI): Johnson discusses his siblings: his brother, Byron, sis sister Emily, and his other sister, Caroline.

Section 42 (XXXII): Describes Teddy, his friend through childhood and adulthood.

Section 43 (XXXIII): Johnson begins the section talking about how the Bible should be read meditatively and closely, but that he would also have enjoyed it a lot more it's editors and publishers had not "hacked it to pieces" for the sake of typographic style.

Section 44 (XXXIV): This section describes all the prominent people that he has met in his lifetime. Individuals named in this section include: Thomas Bailey Aldrich, including Susan B. Anthony, George Eastman, Ulysses S. Grant and Charles Dickens, Robert Todd Lincoln, William Dean Howells, John Davidson Rockefeller, and etc.

Section 45 (XXXV): Discusses Sidney Lee's biography of Shakespeare and how he could have assisted him with proofreading.

Section 46 (XXXVI): Johnson muses on the innocence and uniqueness of children and his nostalgia for childhood, saying that we lose the capacity for happiness when we enter into adulthood.

Section 47 (XXXVII): Descriptions of a letter that had been published by Calvin Coolidge in The Tribune that cites that games are important for college boys.

Section 48 (XXXVIII): Descriptions of how Johnson recently looked at the long list of Nobel Prize winners, specifically the literature winners. Discusses the struggle of writing his own autobiography, as he wants to ensure that he is able to finish it before he passes.

Section 49 (XXXIX): Discussion of how unreasonable it is to believe that anyone but Germany was at fault for the World War.

Section 50 (XL): Johnson discusses his anger over a businessman/coach being hired as a president at "one of our great universities,'' saying that students will not be taught anything worthwhile.

Section 51 (XLI): Descriptions of his time in a public grammar school, including his first experience going to school with both girls and boys.

Section 52 (XLII): A short section describing his woes for any mistakes he made or times he was foolish.

Section 53 (XLIII): Johnson commends the ways of the English, states that the Americans, in New York City especially, should adopt some of their practices.

Section 54 (XLIV): Description of a time he saw young boys fighting in the streets, writes that he only appreciates strength and courage when it is necessary.

Section 55 (XLV): Johnson provides small anecdotes about various topics from William Shakespeare's last will, and an error he observed on the Constitution of the United States.

Section 56 (XLVI): A newspaper clipping about prohibition is attached to the page, as well as his handwritten notes.

Section 57 (XLVII): A clipping from a book or magazine (etc.) that includes a short story regarding the American flag and its different (dreamlike) depictions of it.

Section 58 (XLVIII): Johnson describes how at a dinner party Charles F. MacLean read from Johnson's book on the history of the war of 1812 between the United States and Great Britain.

Section 59 (XLIX): Descriptions of what culture means to Johnson.

Section 60 (L): Johnson discusses the topic of birth control, which he claims was next on the "ladder" after women gained the right to vote. He discusses ecclesiastical control of birth control and purity.

Box 1, Folder 3Letters of amendments and contract, 1886 and 1906

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