University of Chicago Library

Guide to the James Kendall Johnston Papers 1940-1942

© 2021 University of Chicago Library

Descriptive Summary


Johnston, James Kendall. Papers




.25 linear feet (1 box)


Hanna Holborn Gray Special Collections Research Center
University of Chicago Library
1100 East 57th Street
Chicago, Illinois 60637 U.S.A.


James Kendall Johnston (b. September 9, 1918, d. July 17, 2013) was a World War II-veteran, meteorologist, and petroleum geologist. The collection consists of class notes, observation reports, charts, and maps from his training at the University of Chicago’s Institute of Meteorology as an Army cadet from 1940-1942. The papers document Johnston’s meteorological training, the scientific and academic methods in meteorology at the time, the course contents in one of the earliest academic programs dedicated to meteorology, and the University of Chicago’s participation in the wartime military training programs.

Information on Use


The collection is open for research.


When quoting material from this collection, the preferred citation is: Johnston, James Kendall. Papers, [Box #, Folder #], Special Collections Research Center, University of Chicago Library.

Biographical Note

James Kendall Johnston (b. September 9, 1918, d. July 17, 2013) was a World War II-veteran, meteorologist, and petroleum geologist. Born in New York, he received a Bachelor of Science degree in Petroleum Engineering from the University of Tulsa in 1940. Following his graduation, he was registered in the U.S. Army and enrolled in the University of Chicago’s newly established Institute of Meteorology, which trained cadets during World War II. During his training at the University of Chicago, Johnston met his future spouse Leila Nelson (1919-2002), who was pursuing graduate studies at the University’s social work program. They married in 1944.

On March 16, 1942, Johnston enlisted in the U.S. Army Air Corps as an Aviation Cadet. In November 1942, he graduated from the University of Chicago’s Institute of Meteorology within the third training unit and was commissioned as Second Lieutenant. He afterwards served the Air Corps in the rank of Lieutenant, including in an overseas duty in Dutch Guinea during the War. After being discharged (ca. 1946), he worked as a petroleum geologist in private companies, most recently for Mobil Oil Corporation, where he retired in 1984.

Johnston died in Tulsa, Oklahoma at the age of 95.

Scope Note

The collection consists of three notebooks/binders organized by James Kendall Johnston and are kept in the original order. His first notebook, contents of which are in Folder 1 and Folder 2, includes meteorological charts and models drawn by him for “Introductory Meteorology,” print and typewritten source materials for the course, and Johnston’s observation reports and charts for “Field Course.”

The second notebook, preserved in Folder 3 and Folder 4, brings together Johnston’s observation reports and related charts from various dates and places, apparently submitted to and corrected by professors, print charts filled by Johnston and meteorological maps of numerous regions in the world in German language.

Folder 5 and Folder 6 comprise Johnston’s handwritten class notes from the course he attended at the Institute of Meteorology, together with charts, maps, and external reading materials. The photocopy of a religious poem written on the inside of one of the binders is preserved in Folder 7.

Related Resources

Browse finding aids by topic.

University of Chicago. Department of Meteorology. Records

Western History Collections at the University of Oklahoma Libraries include “ Paul Imbrie Johnston Collection.” Researchers will find in it documents from James Kendall Johnston’s time at the University of Chicago, such as his certificate from the Institute of Meteorology, a climate map of the world and several hand drawn weather maps used in different meteorology courses.

Subject Headings


Box 1   Folder 1

Course materials titled “Introductory Meteorology” including various meteorological charts, models, maps, 1940-1942

Box 1   Folder 2

Course materials titled “Field Course” including diagrams, tephigrams, typewritten course readings and charts, and Johnston’s handwritten observation reports, 1942

Box 1   Folder 3

Handwritten observation reports and appended charts, 1941-1942

Box 1   Folder 4

Climatic, wind rose, climograph charts filled out by Johnston for various stations and dates, appended with meteorological maps of different regions in the world in German language, ca. 1940-1942

Box 1   Folder 5

Handwritten class notes for “Dynamic Meteorology,” “Introductory Meteorology,” “Synoptic Meteorology,” with interspersed charts and maps, ca. 1940-1942

Box 1   Folder 6

Handwritten class notes for “Physical Geography,” “Oceanography,” “Climatology,” “Hydrodynamics,” “Synoptic Lab,” and a copy of C.G.Rossby’s article “The Scientific Basis of Modern Meteorology,” ca. 1940-1942

Box 1   Folder 7

Copy of a religious poem written on the inside of one of the original binders, ca. 1940-1942