Randolph Johnson Oral History
Randolph Johnson was born on September 6, 1908, in Cambridge, Minnesota. At the time of Johnson’s birth, Cambridge was largely comprised of Swedish immigrant families, including his own parents, with families that migrated from Sweden to the United States during the late 19th century. Johnson spent most of his life living and working in Cambridge. Here he worked primarily as a farmer and frequently helped to research/write several books detailing the history of Cambridge. Johnson passed away on March 11, 1990, and buried in the Cambridge Lutheran Cemetery.
In an interview conducted on April 27, 1978, Randolph Johnson spoke about his life in the town of Cambridge, his family, and some of the town’s general history, including its experiences with the Great Depression, Dust Bowl, and World War II. Johnson noted that much of his life was spent working on farmland, initially for his father (who also served as the sheriff of Cambridge for multiple decades) and later for himself. Johnson noted that during his youth, Cambridge was largely comprised of Swedish Protestant families (including his own), but that its population began to increasingly diversify following the end of World War II. Likewise, much of Johnson’s interview accounts for other changes to Cambridge during and after the 1940s. This included the initial adoption of phone lines, the growth of its population and schools, and the increasing mechanization of local agriculture (with the addition of more trucks and tractors). While he didn’t view these changes in a negative light, Johnson lamented that Cambridge’s expansion did serve in some respects to weaken the traditionally tight-knit nature of its community, in which everyone knew and frequently interacted with their neighbors and the rest of the community at large.
Interview Conducted by John LeDoux
St. Cloud State University, "Randolph Johnson Oral History" (1978). General. 21.