Charles W. Johnson (naturalist)

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Charles W. Johnson
Charles W. Johnson
Charles W. Johnson
Born(1863-10-26)October 26, 1863
DiedJuly 19, 1932(1932-07-19) (aged 68)
Scientific career
Fieldsentomology, malacology
InstitutionsWagner Free Institute
Academy of Natural Sciences
Boston Society of Natural History
InfluencedWilliam J. Clench

Charles Willison Johnson (October 26, 1863 – July 19, 1932) was an American naturalist who specialized in entomology (especially Diptera) and malacology, making significant contributions in both fields.

He was a mentor and inspiration to many students and young scientists such as William J. Clench (who founded a publication named Johnsonia in his honor).

Johnson was Curator of the Wagner Free Institute of Science, 1888–1903, then was Principal Curator at the Boston Society of Natural History, 1903–1932.

He assisted Henry Augustus Pilsbry with The Nautilus, an important American malacological publication. (Although both were credited on the title page as "Editors and Publishers", Johnson was the business manager and Pilsbry was the editor, with Johnson acting as editor when Pilsbry was on extended field expeditions.)


Charles Johnson was born to Albert Fletcher Johnson and Sarah Willison Johnson in Morris Plains, New Jersey. He attended public and private schools at Morristown, New Jersey. At age 17 he moved to St. Augustine, Florida, and threw himself into an intensive and energetic study of the area's fauna. His activity caught the eye of Joseph Willcox, a trustee of the Wagner Free Institute of Philadelphia, who was in Florida on a field trip. Willcox invited Johnson to become the Wagner's curator, so in 1888 Johnson moved to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and took up that post. During his fourteen-year tenure, he greatly improved and modernized the Institute's collections. He also was asked to curate two special collections of the Academy of Natural Sciences in Philadelphia.

In 1903 he accepted the post of chief curator at the Boston Society of Natural History at the passing of the previous curator (Professor Alpheus Hyatt). He remained at that position until his death at age 68, in Brookline, Massachusetts.

On January 14, 1897 he married Carrie W. Ford in Philadelphia. Her father was a prominent Philadelphia personality, known for his extensive collection of shells. They had no children; she died July 16, 1931 at Brookline.

His co-workers estimated that during his lifetime, Johnson had published at least 130 articles on the topic of entomology, and at least 100 articles on molluscan subjects.