William Houston Johnson - Journalist, Publisher, & Editor

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William Houston Johnson 1945 Tucson Daily Citizen Header

Work In Progress

The Arizona Historic Society has a biography of William Houston Johnson

"William Houston Johnson was born in Cadiz, Ohio on September 15, 1883 [actually born 15 September 1878], the son of Henry Clay Johnson and Rachael Jackson Johnson. He graduated from Urbana High School in Ohio and began his newspaper career as a $5/week press boy in 1898. From 1898 to 1906, he worked for his foster uncle’s newspaper, the Flushing Evening Journal of New York, holding general assignment and police-reporter jobs. 

In 1906, Johnson became general manager of Perkins Press in Tacoma, Washington, which published six newspapers. In 1908, he returned to New York to join William Randolph Hearst Enterprises, where he was business manager of the American Sunday Weekly. From 1918 to 1926, he was an executive with the New York Herald-Tribune syndicate after which he founded Johnson’s Feature Service. In 1928, he sold his interest in the feature service and pushed the Flushing Evening Journal, selling it in 1929. 

In February 1936, Johnson bought the Tucson Daily Citizen with William Arden Small. Johnson co-published and edited the Citizen news for fourteen years. He retired as an editor in 1950, but he continued to write feature articles for the Citizen until 1957. In 1958, he sold his interest in the Citizen to William Small, ending a 22-year association with the newspaper. 

During his career, Johnson was a member of the American Society of Newspaper Editors and the Associated Press, where he was on the nominating committee in 1947-1948. Despite his small physical stature and the loss of sight in one eye in a 1938 auto accident, Johnson was known as a man who held firm to his convictions in politics and journalism, to the extent that he changed party affiliations from Republican to Democrat in 1943 when he disagreed with the national Republican Party policies. 

Twice married, Johnson wed Lucille Sabin on March 6, 1903 and had two children, William Houston Johnson, Jr. and Lucille Johnson Dyer [Dye]. They were divorced. He married Pia Chamberlain on February 6, 1928. Following several years of failing health, William Johnson died in Tucson on March 31, 1964."

The Arizona Historical Society also has a catalog of their collection of the papers of William Houston Johnson.

Subgroup II: William Houston Johnson
Series I: Correspondence, 1938-1956 consists of Johnson’s business and personal correspondence with related printed materials and business receipts. Most of the correspondence documents the business aspects of newspaper publishing; state, local and national politics; state and local civic functions; Tucson’s growth; and newsprint shortages during World War II. Arrangement is general alphabetical. Prominent individuals represented in the correspondence include World War II hero Ira Hayes, columnist Drew Pearson, and Arizona senators Carl Hayden and Ernest McFarland.

William Houston Johnson is mentioned in the 1908 edition of  "History of Borough of Queens, New York City", in reference to his early work on The Flushing Evening Journal. Photographs from "History of the Borough of Queens, New York City", include editions of The Flushing Evening Journal and an interior photo of their offices.

Article about William Houston Johnson in the 17 August 1918 edition of Editor & Publisher, Vol 51.

The publication, Printers' Ink, published information about William Houston Johnson in 1930. That publication is not currently available, but a portion of the content is shown in the search description.

Printers' Ink - Volume 151, Part 1 - Page 148

1930 - ‎Snippet view - ‎More editions
Stubig, special advertising representative of the Akron, Ohio, Beacon Journal, died recently at that city. ... William H. Johnson has been appointed advertising director of the Herald. He formerly was publisher of the Flushing, N. Y.. Evening Journal, and for a number of years was associated with the Hearst organization.

Additional information

Additional Research

Foster Uncle from the Flushing Evening Journal of New York mentioned in Arizona Historic Society Article.

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