Florida Humanities Council

Evelyn Johnson

Evelyn Johnson was born in 1920 in St. Louis, MO, and grew up in Buffalo, New York. She attended Tennessee State University and finished college in New York, where she studied dental hygiene. From 1942 to 1946 Mrs. Johnson served in the Women’s Auxiliary Army Corps and the Women’s Army Corps. She was stationed in Europe, where she was responsible for sorting mail sent to the troops. She found the Europeans to be much more accepting of blacks than Americans.

After the war Mrs. Johnson enjoyed a successful modeling career, and eventually moved to Tampa, where she retired from a long career with Busch Gardens.

Video Oral History

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Below are excerpts from an oral history interview with Evelyn Johnson describing her experiences before and after World War II. The oral history interview was conducted by Jim Schnur, Special Collections Librarian, Poynter Library, University of South Florida St. Petersburg in September 2009.

Click on any of the links below to view clips of Johnson’s oral history interview.

Off to College
Describes heading off to college.
Deciding to Join
Describes the recruiters that convinced her to join the armed forces.
Relates a funny story from her days in training.
Basic Training
Describes basic training at Fort Dix and other locations.
Difficult Duty
Describes studying for a difficult test during basic training.
Relates her experiences with segregation in the south during basic training.
Training at Fort Oglethorpe
More stories of training.
Going Overseas
Describes her sea voyage to Europe for her first assignment.
England and France
Details experience of sorting mail in France and England, the wonderful treatment she received, and the destruction she witnessed in both England and France.
Don’t Eat the Food
Describes her refusal to eat food prepared at Fort Dix by German prisoners of war.
Back Home
Relates her experiences working for the US Census Bureau upon her return home, including the segregation she once again faced in Washington D.C.
New Career
Talks about her successful modeling career.
Meeting Duke Ellington
Relates an entertaining story of meeting, and dancing with, the famous musician.
Florida Memories
Recalls memories of visiting Florida with her father, a railroad man, during her childhood.
Meeting John Hope Franklin
Describes her memories of the late imminent historian John Hope Franklin.
Advice for Today’s Youth
Passes along some words of wisdom for today’s children.



Busch Gardens Tribute
Busch Gardens Tribute.
Certificate of appreciation
Certificate of appreciation.
Day of Honor
Day of Honor.
Evelyn Johnson modeling biography
Evelyn Johnson modeling biography.
Honorable Discharge certificate
Honorable Discharge certificate.
Letter of thanks.
Article about being an artist's model
Army statistical sheet
Army statistical sheet
Booklet for WAC Anniversary Luncheon
Booklet for WAC Anniversary Luncheon
Women in Military Service certificate
Women in Military Service certificate