Profile

Paul F. Johnston

Curator

Ph.D., University of Pennsylvania B.A., Middlebury College

Research Specialties 
  • Maritime History, Art and Archaeology
  • Shipwrecks
  • Motorcycles and Road History
Projects 

Current Projects:

  • Integration of a 4,000 object collection from CIGNA Corporation into Smithsonian Collections.
  • Shipwreck research on the wreck of the Royal Yacht of Hawaiian King Kamehameha II
  • Exhibition research for forthcoming maritime history exhibition

Past Projects:

  • Principal Investigator for archaeological research on the wreck of the 1846 propeller Indiana, which sank in Lake Superior in 1856
Awards, Honors, and Special Recognition 
  • Great Lakes History Prize, July 1996
  • Award of Merit, American Association of Museums 1985 Museum Publications Competition
Professional Affiliations 
  • Member, Advisory Council on Underwater Archaeology (Chair, 1989-1995)
  • Member, Interagency Working Group, US Department of State
  • Member, NOAA Monitor Sanctuary Advisory Committee
  • Vice Chair, Smithsonian Institution Scientific Diving Control Board
  • Bureau Diving Officer, National Museum of American History, Smithsonian Institution
  • Corresponding Member, ICOMOS International Committee on Underwater Cultural Heritage
  • Chair, Archaeology Committee, Council of American Maritime Museums
  • Member, Accreditation Visiting Committee, American Association of Museums
  • Member, Underwater Archaeology Committee, Archaeological Institute of America  
  • Board of Directors, Ships of Discovery  
  • Advisory Board, U.S. Scientific Committee for the CSS Alabama Project
  • Advisory Committee, U.S. Navy H. L. Hunley Shipwreck Project

Publications

“The Origins of Marine Art,” Schatkamer: Veertien opstellen over maritiem-historische onderwerpen aangeboden aan Leo M. Akveld bij zijn afscheid van het Maritiem Museum Rotterdam (Franeker: Uitgeverij Wijnen, 2002) 114—127.
“A Million Pounds of Sandalwood: The History of Cleopatra’s Barge in Hawaii” The American Neptune 63.1 (Winter 2002) 5-45.

The history of America’s first ocean-going yacht from 1820–1824, after it was purchased by Hawaiian King Kamehameha II and used as his royal yacht.

“Washington, D.C.: The Smithsonian Institution,” SHA Newsletter 34.1 (Spring 2001) 27.

A brief discussion of maritime archaeological research at the Smithsonian.

“1997 Excavations of the Royal Hawaiian Yacht Ha‘aheo o Hawaii in Hanalei Bay, Kauai: Preliminary Report,” in Lawrence E. Babits et al. (eds.), Underwater Archaeology 1998. Tucson: Society for Historical Archaeology, 1998. 96–103.

Highlights of the 1997 shipwreck excavation season.

"An Enduring Legacy," Nautical Research Journal 42.2 (June 1997) 111.
"Titanic Ethics," Museum News 76.3 (May/June 1997) 7.
"Hanalei Redux" Increase & Diffusion: A Smithsonian Web Magazine 3 (March 1997).

A general-interest article on shipwreck archaeology and what is required behind the scenes.

"Preliminary Report on the 1996 Excavations of the Wreck of Ha’aheo o Hawaii (ex-Cleopatra’s Barge) in Hanalei Bay, Kauai," in Denise C. Lakey (ed.), Underwater Archaeology 1997. Tucson: Society for Historical Archaeology, 1997. 113–120.

Highlights of the 1996 shipwreck excavation season.

"The Wreck of America’s First Yacht: Cleopatra’s Barge (Ha ’aheo o Hawaii): 1995 Survey," in Stephen R. James, Jr. (ed.), Underwater Archaeology Proceedings from the Society for Historical Archaeology Conference. Cincinnati, Ohio: Society for Historical Archaeology, 1996. 61–66.

Highlights of the 1995 survey for—and discovery of—the Royal Hawaiian Yacht.

"DOWNBOUND: The History of the Early Great Lakes Propeller Indiana," The American Neptune 55.4 (1995) 323–355. Awarded the Great Lakes History Prize, July 1996.

History of one of the earliest propeller-driven steamboats in the Great Lakes, the propulsion machinery of which was
raised by the Smithsonian in the late 1970s and early 1980s.

"Do They Really Pay You To Do That?" Increase & Diffusion: A Smithsonian Web Magazine 1 (September 1996).

A general-interest article on shipwreck archaeology and what is required behind the scenes.

"The 1824 Wreck of the Royal Hawaiian Yacht Ha ’aheo o Hawaii (ex-Cleopatra’s Barge): 1996 Preliminary Results," in Michael A. Lang (ed.), Methods and Techniques of Underwater Research: Proceedings of the American Academy of Underwater Sciences 1996 Scientific Diving Symposium. (Washington, D.C.: AAUS, 1996) 133–135.

Highlights of the 1996 shipwreck excavation season.

The Maritime Administration Collection of Ship Plans (1939–1970). with Paula J. Johnson (eds.) Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Institution, 1995.

A catalog of Smithsonian ship plans available to the public.

Underwater Archaeology Proceedings from The Society For Historical Archaeology Conference. e.d. Washington, D.C.: Society for Historical Archaeology, 1995.

An edited volume of current (1995) underwater archaeological research (mostly fieldwork).

Underwater Archaeology Proceedings from The Society For Historical Archaeology Conference. Washington, D.C.: Society for Historical Archaeology, 1995.

An edited volume of current (1995) underwater archaeological research (mostly fieldwork).

"Escape by Water: The Smithsonian Institution’s Ship Plans Catalogs," Seaways IV.3 (May/June 1993) 32–35. Reprinted in Messing About in Boats 11.18 (1 Feb. 1994) 6–8.

Description of the Smithsonian’s three ship plans catalogs.

"Downbound: Exploring the Wreck of the Indiana," Michigan History Magazine 77.5 (September/October 1993) 24–30.

General-interest account of one of the earliest propeller-driven steamboats in the Great Lakes.

"Treasure Salvage, Archaeological Ethics and Maritime Museums," International Journal of Nautical Archaeology 22.1 (1993) 53–60. Reprinted in Prott et al., Background Materials on the Protection of the Underwater Cultural Heritage (Paris: UNESCO, 2000) 393–401.

A discussion of the ethics of collecting artifacts from shipwrecks.

"The Wreck of the Steamboat Indiana," Bermuda Journal of Archaeology and Maritime History 5 (1993) 181–192.

History and archaeology of one of the earliest propeller-driven steamboats in the Great Lakes.

"Is it Treasure or a Worthless Piece of Ship?" Historical Archaeology 26.4 (1992) 119–123.

A discussion of the ethics of collecting artifacts from ship wrecks.

"Maritime Museum Policy and the Acquisition of Archaeological Materials," Bulletin of the Australian Institute for Maritime Archaeology 16.1 (1992) 15–18.

A discussion of the ethics of collecting artifacts from ship wrecks.

“The Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C.,” in Peter Neill (ed.), Great Maritime Museums of the World. New York: Harry Abrams and Balsam Press, 1991. pp. 278–89

An overview of the 19th century origins of the Smithsonian’s maritime collections and a discussion of its highlights.

"The Duty to Save Sunken Booty," Business and Society Review 73 (1990) 18–21.

The business of treasure hunting.

"The Philadelphia Steamboat of 1796," (ed.), Melvin H. Jackson. The American Neptune L.3 (1990) 201–210.

Article about Philadelphian Griffin Greene and a failed steamboat venture; the original materials are in the Smithsonian’s transportation collections.

"Between the Devil and The Deep Blue Sea: Archaeology and the Council of American Maritime Museums," in J. Barto Arnold III (ed.), Underwater Archaeology Proceedings from the Society for Historical Archaeology Conference. Pleasant Hill, Calif.: Society for Historical Archaeology, 1989. pp. 149–150.

Museum ethics and policies regarding submerged cultural heritage.

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