Guide to the Raymond Johnson Papers,​ 1967-​1974

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Summary Information

Title: Raymond Johnson Papers

Inclusive Dates: 1967-1974

Creator: Johnson, Raymond C., 1936-1979

Call Number: Eau Claire Mss BH

Quantity: 7.0 c.f.(5 record center cartons and 5 archives boxes) 

Repository: Housed at the Area Research Center, William D. McIntyre Library, University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire; owned by the Wisconsin Historical Society, Library-Archives Division

Archival Locations: UW-Eau Claire McIntyre Library / Eau Claire Area Research Ctr.  

Abstract: Papers of a former state Republican senator from Eau Claire who served in the legislature from 1967 to 1975. Included are general correspondence with constituents, colleagues, and other individuals on a wide range of topics such as aid to parochial schools, trucks and highway safety, the Sparta Child Care Center, and the 1974 budget proposed by Governor Patrick Lucey; and subject files concerning legislation introduced in 1973 to reorganize the Wisconsin court system, his work on the Legislative Council's Task Force on Welfare Payments, and his unsuccessful campaign for the Wisconsin Supreme Court in 1973.

Language: English


Former Republican state senator Raymond C. Johnson was born on August 20, 1936 and raised in rural Buffalo County. He attended the one-room Gilman Valley School and Gilmanton High School before his family moved to Eau Claire where he attended the local high school. Johnson later cited the speech and debate classes he took there as the beginning of his interest in a legal career.

After graduation from high school in 1954, Johnson attended Wisconsin State College Eau Claire, graduating in 1958. As a college student, he served as a lobbyist and treasurer in the student senate, and he was an active member of the campus YGOP and president of the International Relations Club. He also worked as a janitor at a local hotel and as an orderly at Luther Hospital. There he met Ellen Nelson, a registered nurse, whom he married in 1958.

In 1958 Johnson enlisted in the U.S. Navy and was assigned to Washington, D.C. where he attended Naval Justice School. He later spent three years at sea as a legal officer on the aircraft carrier Essex and two years on the staff of the chief of naval personnel. Johnson also served as the first administrative officer for the Defense Intelligence School and as a faculty member of the Naval Intelligence School. In 1965 he completed his law degree from George Washington University Law School.

In 1965 Johnson returned with his wife and children Charles and Sarah to Pleasant Valley in Eau Claire County to set up a private law practice. In 1966 he defeated Earl Leverich, a thirty-year Senate veteran from Monroe County. During his first term, 1967-1973, Johnson served as chairman of the Codes and Laws Ethical Committee, the Advisory Committee on State Bidding Procedures, and the Joint Finance Committee's Task Force on Welfare Payments. Later he was also vice chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee and the Interstate Cooperation Committee and a member of the Labor, Taxation, Insurance and Banking Committee, the Joint Survey Committee on Tax Exemptions, the Joint Committee on Employment Relations, the Legislative Council, and the Joint Committee on Legislative Organization.

Johnson quickly rose to a leadership position within the legislative Republican organization, becoming assistant majority leader under Ernest Keppler during the 1969 and 1971 sessions. In 1972, the Republican majority rejected Keppler and promoted the more conservative Johnson to majority leadership. Because of divisions within the Republican caucus, Johnson's tenure was contentious, but under his leadership the Republican majority was able to block or alter several parts of Governor Lucey's legislative program.

In 1973 Johnson ran against incumbent Horace Wilkie for a seat on the Wisconsin Supreme Court. His candidacy was a surprise to many who considered Johnson a more likely Republican candidate for attorney general or governor in 1974.

Wilkie defeated Johnson, who was not well known statewide despite his prominence in the Legislature. Shortly thereafter Johnson announced his decision not to seek a third term in the Senate, although he did not rule out further attempts at higher elective office. Johnson returned to Eau Claire where he resumed his legal career. He died on October 8, 1979 from injuries suffered in an automobile accident.

Scope and Content Note

The papers of Republican legislator Raymond Johnson are much more an expression of the political views of the people of his district than they are evidence of his personal views and actions. About 85% of the collection consists of constituent correspondence alphabetically-arranged by name with no indexes to facilitate access to bill numbers or specific issues. At the same time, except for the 1967-1968 session when he was less burdened by caucus responsibilities, Johnson's responses to constituent correspondence generally consisted of routine acknowledgments. Very seldom do Johnson's letters contain any indication of his own views. There are some letters from both district and state businessmen and from leaders of the Republican Party, but these tend to be isolated items which are not revealing about his involvement in the legislative matters. As a result, although the correspondence contains some useful material on legislative issues such as aid to parochial schools, trucks and highway safety, the Sparta Child Care Center, and the 1974 budget proposed by Governor Patrick Lucey, it can be located only after tedious searching.

The CORRESPONDENCE is arranged first by legislative session and then alphabetically by name. For the 1967-1968 session in addition to the general correspondence there is also a small, incomplete subject file. Of special note here is the memo from the party concerning fundraising techniques.

The remainder of the collection consists only of biographical miscellany and subject files. Several useful types of files commonly found in the collections of Wisconsin legislators such as working bill and committee files, publicity and press material, and personal scrapbooks are completely absent.

BIOGRAPHICAL MISCELLANY includes several vitae, a folder of biographical clippings, a transcript of floor remarks assumed to have been delivered by Johnson, one 1967 newsletter, a letter to the League of Women Voters concerning his views on 1972 election issues, and Xerox copies of the photographs received with the papers. The original prints have been filed in the Name File in the Visual and Sound Archives under the headings “Raymond Johnson” and “Wisconsin Senate.”

The SUBJECT FILES, unquestionably the most useful portion of the papers, refer to welfare, court reorganization, and Johnson's 1974 Supreme Court campaign and are organized to correspond to the sequence of Johnson's involvement. The files on the Legislative Council's Task Force on Welfare Payments, of which Johnson was chairman, consist of chronologically-arranged correspondence and memoranda. The court reorganization files consist of information gathered by the Senate Judiciary Committee of which Johnson was a member which related to legislation introduced in 1973 to partially reorganize Wisconsin courts. Included are individual questionnaires completed by many Wisconsin judges concerning their views, analyses prepared by the Legislative Council, public statements by judges and others, and information on a citizen task force concerned with reorganization of the courts. The Supreme Court election files, which are relatively complete, contain some valuable material on political campaigning such as memoranda on planning strategy drafted by the campaign director and a manual. Also included are general correspondence, testimonial letters covering the period 19681974 which were apparently gathered for use in the campaign, speeches delivered by Johnson, advertising and press releases, and financial reports.

Administrative/Restriction Information

Acquisition Information 

Presented by Ellen Johnson, Eleva, Wisconsin, September 24, 1982. Accession Number: M82-358

Processing Information 

Processed by Sara N. McLanahan (Intern), 1988.

Search Terms/Subject Terms

  • Wisconsin Child Center
  • Wisconsin. Supreme Court
  • Church schools—Law and legislation—Wisconsin
  • Courts—Wisconsin
  • Legislators—Wisconsin
  • Public welfare—Wisconsin
  • Traffic safety—Wisconsin
  • Wisconsin—Politics and government

Contents List

Eau Claire Mss BHSeries: Biographical MaterialBox/Folder 1/1Clippings, 1971-1974 Box/Folder 1/2Biographical miscellany and Xeroxed photographs PH Name FilePhotographsEau Claire Mss BHSeries: Subject FilesBox/Folder 1/3-7Welfare Payments, Task Force on, 1970-1971 
Court reorganization bill (AJR5), 1973-1974Box/Folder 1/8Judges' questionnaires re AJR-5 Box/Folder 1/9Legislative Council analyses of AJR5 Box/Folder 1/10Judges' public testimonyBox/Folder 1/11Miscellaneous constituent views Box/Folder 2/1Citizens Study Committee on Judicial Reorganization Box/Folder 2/2Miscellany 
Supreme Court campaign, 1973-1974Box/Folder 2/3Advertising Box/Folder 2/4Announcement Box/Folder 2/5Clippings Box/Folder 2/6CorrespondenceBox/Folder 2/7Financial records Box/Folder 2/8ManualBox/Folder 2/9PollBox/Folder 2/10Press releases Box/Folder 2/11Speeches, statements, and notesBox/Folder 2/12Strategy and planningBox/Folder 2/13Testimonial letters (1968-1973)Box/Folder 3/1-2Testimonial letters, continued Box/Folder 3/3Wilkie information
Series: Correspondence
1967-1968 SessionBox/Folder 3/4-21General, A-Z 
Subject files Box/Folder 3/22Bidding procedures Box/Folder 3/23Gubernatorial appointmentsBox/Folder 3/24Highway safety and drinking age Box/Folder 3/25Invitations Box/Folder 3/26Insurance policy taxBox/Folder 3/27Melrose school presentation Box/Folder 3/281969 Republican Party fundraising 
1969-1970 SessionBox/Folder 3/29-35A-F Box/Folder 4/1-22G-Z 
1971-1972 Session Box/Folder 4/23-25A-BBox 5B-P Box/Folder 6/1-11R-Z
1973-1974 Session Box/Folder 6/12-24A-DBox 7E-MBox 8N-RBox 9R-SBox 10S-Z