Established in 1978, this designated chair is named in honor of General Harold Keith Johnson, who served as Chief of Staff of the United States Army from 1964 to 1968. During his term, he approved a recommendation to establish at Carlisle Barracks a library and a repository of documents that would encourage and facilitate the study of military history. Initially designated the U.S. Army Military History Research Collection, the nucleus of the collection consisted of 50,000 bound volumes, transferred from the Army War College and National War College and housed in Upton Hall. Among its first manuscript acquisitions were the extensive official and personal papers of General Johnson himself, who donated them to the Military History Research Collection upon his retirement from the Army -- and for many years served on the Military History Research Collection's advisory board..
Thanks in part to General Johnson's early commitment to the Military History Research Collection, its holdings expanded rapidly during the 1970s. It began to draw serious researchers from across the country, and in 1972 an annual visiting professor position was created, with Dr. Theodore Ropp of Duke University as the first to hold the position.
In 1977 Military History Research Collection was renamed the U.S. Army Military History Institute (USAMHI). The following year the annual visiting professor position was designated the Harold Keith Johnson Chair in Military History.* Although configured as a scholar-in-residence program, in practice most holders of the Chair assumed informal roles within the Army War College itself, affliliating with student seminar groups and teaching elective courses. In 2006 the Chair was transferred from the USAMHI to the war college itself. It is today controlled by the Dean of Academics and housed administratively in one of the college's three academic departments, currently the Department of National Security and Strategy (DNSS).
The Johnson Chair is filled by invitation from the Commandant of the U.S. Army War College. Chairholders are expected to be senior scholars with distinguished records of publication, teaching, and service in the field of military history.
Holders of the Johnson Chair are expected to teach one of the war college's core curriculum courses and a spring elective course. The scholar-in-residence tradition continues, and Chair holders continue to have wide latitude in which to pursue individual research and writing projects. But they are also invited to make their expertise available to the many programs and institutions co-located with the war college at Carlisle Barracks.
For academic year 2009, the Chair is held by Dr. Mark Grimsley, associate professor of history at The Ohio State University. Dr. Grimsley received his PhD from Ohio State in 1992. He also holds a master's degree in War Studies from Kings London. He is the recipient of several teaching awards, including the Alumni Distinguished Teaching Award, Ohio State's highest award for excellence in the classroom. He is the author, co-author, or editor of eight books, including The Hard Hand of War: Union Military Policy Toward Southern Civilians, 1861-1865, which received the Lincoln Prize in 1996; And Keep Moving On: The Virginia Campaign, May-June 1864; Civilians in the Path of War (co-edited with Clifford J. Rogers); and Gettysburg: A Battlefield Guide (co-authored with Brooks D. Simpson). Dr. Grimsley's research interests include strategic policy-making, the nature of 21st century insurgency, the problem of moral judgment in war, and the interplay between racism and war in the American military experience. He also maintains a blog focusing on military history and national security affairs.
Dr. Grimsley's curriculum vitae may be found here.
In spring 2009, Dr. Grimsley will be offering an elective course, NS2244: American Insurgencies: The Struggle for Black Liberation in the South, 1865-1965. (Click the hyperlink to access the course synopsis and supporting materials.)
Background on the history of the Johnson Chair is based on Harry P. Ball, Of Responsible Command: A History of the U.S. Army War College, rev. ed. (Carlisle Barracks, Pa.: Alumni Association of the U.S. Army War College, 1994); and discussions with Dr. Richard J. Sommers, U.S. Army Military History Institute.