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Alice Johnson (7 July 1860 – 13 January 1940) was an English zoologist. She also edited the proceedings of the Society for Psychical Research from 1899 to 1916.[1]

Alice Johnson
Born7 July 1860
Died13 January 1940 (1940-01-14) (aged 79)
Academic background
Alma materNewnham College
InfluencesFrancis Maitland Balfour
Adam Sedgwick
Academic work
InstitutionsBalfour Laboratory
Society for Psychical Research
Newnham College
Main interestsearly development of the newt



The daughter of William Henry Farthing Johnson, a private school master, and Harriet Brimsley, she was born in Cambridge.[1] Her brother was the logician William Ernest Johnson.[2] She was educated in Cambridge and Dover, entering Newnham College in 1878.[1] In 1881, she was placed in the equivalent of the First Class of the Natural Sciences Tripos (at that time, as a woman, she was not permitted to earn a degree).[2] From 1884 to 1890, she was a demonstrator in animal morphology at the Balfour Laboratory. She continued her studies with Francis Balfour and, after Balfour's death in 1882, with Adam Sedgwick. Her research included studies of the early development of the newt. In 1884, she published the first paper by a woman to appear in the Proceedings of the Royal Society. She also published a study on the development of cranial nerves in the newt embryo with Lilian Sheldon, then a student at Newnham College.[1]

In 1890, she became private secretary to Eleanor Mildred Sidgwick, a leading figure in the Society for Psychical Research. Johnson was secretary for the Society from 1903 to 1907 and was its research officer from 1907 to 1916. She assisted in the so-called "Brighton experiments" in thought transference. Johnson also worked for the Society on the Census of Hallucinations. She prepared the work Human Personality and Its Survival of Bodily Death by Frederic W. H. Myers for publication; it had been left uncompleted after Myers' death.[3] Johnson resigned from the SPR in 1917.[4]

Eleanor Sidgwick became principal for Newnham College in 1892 and Johnson served as her secretary until 1903. From 1893 to 1902, Johnson was also an associate of the college.[1]

She died in Cambridge at the age of 79.[1]


See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b c d e f Creese, Mary R S (2000). Ladies in the Laboratory? American and British Women in Science, 1800-1900: A Survey of Their Contributions to Research. pp. 109–10. ISBN 0585276846.
  2. ^ a b Broad, C D (2011). Lectures on Psychical Research (Routledge Revivals): Incorporating the Perrott Lectures Given in Cambridge University in 1959 and 1960. p. 111. ISBN 1136832378.
  3. ^ "Alice Johnson". Biographical Dictionary of Parapsychology.
  4. ^ Anonymous. (1923). Annual Report of the Council. Journal of the Society for Psychical Research 21: 30-31. "It will be remembered that since the resignation of Miss Alice Johnson in 1917 the Society had had no salaried Research Officer. It was decided, therefore, to fill this post, and Mr. E. J. Dingwall was appointed, and entered upon his duties in February immediately upon his return from America, where he had been working with Dr. Walter Prince."