Born: 21 October 1917, Moonta, South Australia
Died: 19 October 1983, Adelaide, South Australia
Jim Johnson displayed a keen interest in mining and minerals from an early age. While his formal education was limited, he acquired a great deal of knowledge about mineralogy through his experience in the mining industry and became a highly regarded mineralogist.
During the 1950s and 1960s Johnson was employed by the Mines Department of South Australia and Geosurveys of Australia Pty Ltd, a geological consulting company. He travelled extensively throughout South Australia for both employers on prospecting and geological mapping projects. Johnson contributed to a number of geological maps of South Australia. He also recorded detailed archaeological information at Australian Aboriginal habitation and quarry sites he encountered in his travels.
At the turn of the 1970s Johnson retired from field work due to ill-health. In 1972 he commenced working as an Honorary Research Worker at the South Australian Museum (SAM). During his time at SAM Johnson worked on the many specimens he had donated, conducted research into meteorites and South Australian phosphate deposits, and compiled a Catalogue of South Australian Minerals, which was published in 1983.
Johnson was also an enthusiastic mineral specimen collector and a prolific correspondent. He exchanged mineral specimens and correspondence with mineral specimen collectors from around the world and assisted many in identifying mineral specimens.
The James Eric Johnson collection at the South Australian Museum contains a wide range of material, including field notebooks with detailed descriptions and illustrations of archaeological artefacts, correspondence, draft and published manuscripts, reprinted articles, and other personal papers.
Johnson commenced working at the South Australian Museum as an Honorary Research Worker in 1972. He was made an Honorary Associate in Mineralogy in 1975. He continued working at the South Australian Museum until his death in 1983.