Skip to main content

Mick Johnson papers

Identifier: Y.USA.114


The collection includes publications (such as guidebooks, workbooks, handouts, and newsletters), correspondence, and other material related to various values education projects Mick Johnson was involved with at YMCAs during the 1970s and 1980s. The bulk of the publications are related to the national YMCA Values Project. The collection also includes correspondence, reports, and other information from the late 1960s and early 1970s related to the Minneapolis YMCA and its Anomie Center (a drop-in and referral center for young people).


  • 1967 - 2011

Conditions Governing Access

Open for use in the Elmer L. Andersen Library reading room.

Conditions Governing Use

This collection may be protected by the Copyright Law of the United States (Title 17, U.S. Code). It is the user's responsibility to verify copyright ownership and to obtain all necessary permissions prior to the reproduction, publication, or other use of any portion of these materials. Researchers may quote from the collection under the fair use provision of the copyright law.


Michael “Mick” Johnson was born in Albuquerque, New Mexico in 1944. He began working at the Des Moines YMCA as a Youth Director in 1966. At the Des Moines YMCA, he was involved with several programs and initiatives including a YMCA Summer project, an Inter City Youth Club, and also Community Organization measures. In 1969, he was hired by the Metropolitan Minneapolis YMCA as a Young Adult Director. In that role, he created programs for community teens and young adults and developed the Anomie Center, a drop-in and referral center for young adults, in the basement of the downtown Minneapolis YMCA.

Johnson resigned as a YMCA staff member in the early 1970s to attend graduate school. He became an adjunct professor. Due to his academic and YMCA background, in the mid-1970s Johnson was asked to participate in the Akron Project alongside Jerry Glashagel and Bob Phipp at the Akron YMCA. The Akron Project was funded by a grant from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. The project’s purpose was to develop a curriculum around values education. One of the outcomes of the project was the publication of the “Digging In” series of books about values education for youth workers.

After the Akron Project, Johnson consulted on the Kellogg Family Project at the Miami YMCA. Johnson's collaborators on the project were Jerry Glashagel and John Ireland. The project was similar to the Akron Project but focused on family values. One of the outcomes of the Kellogg Family Project was a “Digging In” book about values education for families published in English and Spanish.

Johnson was then asked to consult on the Values Project for the national YMCA. As part of that project, the YMCA used the “Digging In” books as tools for educating camp directors and youth directors as well as for board development. Johnson and others created books, workbooks, and other material related to values and management, faith, families, and sports that were distributed by the YMCA. Additionally, Johnson traveled around the United States to provide multi-day workshops developed as part of the Values Project to local YMCA staff through the YMCA’s Career Development Program.

In addition to doing consulting work for the YMCA and other organizations, Johnson was the President of the Park Nicollet Foundation and the Vice President at Mercy and United Hospitals for more than 20 years. He continued to be an adjunct professor in the University of Minnesota’s College of Education and Human Development and Medical School. He has also maintained positions on the boards or advisory councils of the YMCA, Search Institute, Children First, St. Mary's Clinics, CommonBond, University of St. Thomas and Seeing Things Whole.

Information is taken from: 1. Mick Johnson, phone call with Alex Bentley, December 6, 2022 2. “Mick Johnson: Senior Fellow”, accessed December 6, 2022 3. Materials in the collection


1 Cubic Feet (1 box)

Language of Materials



Workbooks, project materials, correspondence, reports, and other material related to Mick Johnson's work on YMCA values education and YMCA programs for youth and young adults during the 1970s and 1980s.

Processing Information

Processed by Madeline Alft

Includes accession numbers Y20161021 and Y20200812.

An Inventory of his Papers
Madeline Alft and Alex Bentley
October 2022
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Collecting Area Details

Contact The Kautz Family YMCA Archives Collecting Area