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Johnson, Ruth Ashton, 1933-



  • Existence: 1933-


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.

Found in 1 Collection or Record:

Ruth Ashton Johnson papers

Identifier: IWA0162

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.

Dates: 1971-1994