The TOHA Board of Directors proudly announces that one its own, Dr. Bobby H. Johnson, is the seventh recipient of the Thomas L. Charlton Lifetime Achievement Award. For more than four decades as a faculty member at Stephen F. Austin State University (SFASU) in Nacogdoches, Bobby Johnson has served the cause of historical research and oral history in multiple ways, through his students, administrative roles, scholarly publications, and professional leadership. He is a charter member of TOHA (the eighteenth person to join), has served two terms on the board of directors, and was our president during 1988. He has shared stories from his East Texas oral history projects in papers and performances for annual meetings of both TOHA and the national Oral History Association.
From his early educational choices through his current research, Bobby Johnson has exhibited broad interests in US history, culture, and literature. He earned the BA (1958) from Abilene Christian College, majoring in journalism, with minors in English and history, and the MA (1962) from the University of Oklahoma (OU), with a minor in US history. He continued graduate study at OU, this time concentrating on general US social and cultural history and literature, culminating in the PhD in 1967. Along the way, he worked in Texas as a reporter for the Abilene Reporter-News; in Arkansas, as newsman for United Press International and as assistant director of publicity and publications for Harding College; and in Oklahoma, as editorial clerk and writer for the Federal Aviation Administration.
Bobby Johnson began his career at SFASU as assistant professor in 1966 and continues today as professor emeritus. In 1992, the university named him a Regents Professor. In addition to teaching and directing theses for the Department of History and serving on numerous faculty committees, he was coordinator of the Oral History Program (1983-1986), director of the Office of University Information (1979-1982), and still serves as oral history consultant and interviewer for the university's African American Heritage Project. His research and oral history projects on East Texas topics, including the oil boom, the Great Depression, World War II, the fur trade, log cabins, and the Southland Paper Mill, received grant support from the university as well as various foundations.
Johnson's research on the Oklahoma Territory and East Texas has appeared in articles in Fest-schrifts, anthologies, and academic journals and in scholarly presentations at professional meetings in Texas, Oklahoma, Minnesota, California, Ohio, Nova Scotia, and the United Kingdom. Book-length publications from his work include From Pine Trees to Paper: Interviews with Southland Paper Employees (Nacogdoches: Center for East Texas Studies, 2002); Wiley Post, His Winnie Mae, and the World's First Pressure Suit, Smithsonian Annals of Flight No. 8, co-authored with Stanley R. Mohler (Washington, DC: Smithsonian Institution, 1971); and The Coushatta People (Phoenix, AZ: Indian Tribal Series, 1977).
Setting apart Bobby Johnson's work from the rest is his creativity, exemplified by his original dra-matic productions based on his oral history projects. His play "East Texas Remembers" debuted in Nacogdoches in 1991, followed by an encore performance in 1998. "East Texas Remembers World War II" appeared on stage at SFASU in 1992, and again, in an expanded version, at Lamp-Lite Theater in 1993 and 1995. "A Texas Tragedy: The New London School Explosion," a play in two acts, opened at the Lamp-Lite Theater in April 2005. From that play, students at Huntington High School, Angelina County, have developed an entry for the University Interscholastic League's 2008 one-act play competition. Johnson continued scripting plays from oral histories, and in February 2009 his play "East Texas Talks" debuted in Nacogdoches. Read here about East Texas Talks.
Retired from full-time teaching, Bobby Johnson continues his research and publication. He has at hand projects that include continued research and a revision of his play on East Texas and World War II, research on the East Texas poultry industry, and writing an article on the Texas fur trade. His out-standing work as professor and author was recognized in May 1993 by the Texas House of Representa-tives in House Congratulatory Motion #496.
His exceptional contributions to preserving the history of significant East Texas people, places, and events through oral history interviews, publications, and performances and his longtime leadership in Texas Oral History Association now inspire TOHA to bestow upon Bobby H. Johnson the Thomas L. Charlton Lifetime Achievement Award.
TOHA Board of Directors 2008
Vernon L. Williams, President
Judith Linsley, Vice President
Bobby H. Johnson, Michelle Mears, JoAnn Pospisil
Beverly Rowe, Diane L. Ware, Kyle Wilkison, Rebecca Wright