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Ruth Ashton Johnson papers

Identifier: IWA0162

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Scope and Contents

The Ruth Ashton Johnson papers date from 1971 to 1994 and measure 10 linear inches. The papers are arranged in three series: Biographical, AIAW, and Artifacts. The papers document Johnson's interest and professional involvement in promoting equal opportunity for female athletes within schools at all levels.


  • Creation: 1971-1994


Conditions Governing Access

The papers are open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright held by the donor has been transferred to the University of Iowa.

However, copyright status for some collection materials may be unknown. Transmission or reproduction of materials protected by U.S. Copyright Law (Title 17, U.S.C.) beyond that allowed by fair use requires the written permission of the copyright owner. Works not in the public domain cannot be commercially exploited without permission of the copyright owners. Responsibility and potential liability based on copyright infringement for any use rests exclusively and solely with the user. Users must properly acknowledge the Iowa Women’s Archives, The University of Iowa Libraries, as the source of the material. For further information, visit

Biographical / Historical

Ruth Ashton Johnson, coach, teacher, women's and girls athletics advocate, was born in Clinton, Iowa, on September 20, 1933 to Ned Ashton and Gladys Brooker Ashton. Both her parents were collegiate athletes, and her mother was a member of the physical education department at the University of Iowa. With parental encouragement, Ruth Ashton became proficient in a number of sports, including swimming, tennis, and rifle. While a college student at the University of Iowa, Ashton majored in physical education and continued her athletics, adding field hockey to her repertoire. She married Ron Johnson after college and they moved to Davenport, Iowa, where they raised three sons.

Johnson began teaching physical education in the public school system, and became director of the Davenport Park Board swimming program in 1956. She taught at St. Katherine's part-time from 1957 until 1967, when she began a full-time position at West High School. While at West, Johnson's activism on behalf of young women's competitive opportunities led her to be elected chair of the Iowa Division for Girls' and Women's Sports Committee.

In 1971 Johnson was sent to the National DGWS Conference where she was instrumental in formulating resolutions for women's athletic competition that resulted in the 1972 Title IX legislation. The National Association for Girls and Women in Sport (NAGWS) organized the Association for Intercollegiate Athletics for Women (AIAW) in 1971-1972 in part to implement the new federal legislation. During her long career at West (she retired in 1990) Johnson coached girls' field hockey, swimming, and gymnastics at different times, and she remained a leader in the local community of girls' competitive athletics. Since retirement, Johnson has remained involved in teaching swimming, leading girl scout trips to the boundary waters, and organizing senior swim meets.


10.00 linear inches

Artifacts in Box 2, 15 audiocassettes [AC277-AC291] boxes

Language of Materials



Physical education teacher whose papers include records of the Association for Intercollegiate Athletics for Women and of the Association for Girls and Women in Sport.

Method of Acquisition

The papers (donor no. 234) were donated by Ruth Ashton Johnson in 1994.

Rachel Bohlmann, 1996.
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Script of description
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Repository Details

Part of the Iowa Women's Archives Repository

100 Main Library
University of Iowa Libraries
Iowa City IA 52242 IaU
319-335-5900 (Fax)