Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine Founding Documents

Scope and Content

Johns Hopkins, a Baltimore merchant, bequeathed $7 million for the establishment of a university and hospital in Baltimore, Maryland. In 1867 the University was incorporated and in 1876 instruction began. Between 1876 and 1893 when the Medical School opened, Daniel Coit Gilman, the first president of the Johns Hopkins University, took steps to lay the educational foundation of the School of Medicine. In 1879 Gilman wrote to eminent British medical men to learn their thoughts on improving medical education. From this preliminary medical survey Gilman received letters, reports and publications on medical studies, which he used in developing a strong preliminary medical education course in the undergraduate curriculum.

The opening of the Medical School, delayed because of a lack of funds, would have been forced further into the future had it not been for the efforts of a group of prominent Baltimore women desiring to promote medical education for women in the United States. Led by Mary Elizabeth Garrett who contributed $354,764, they organized a national Women's Fund Campaign and raised $500,000 to guarantee the admission of women to Hopkins. They further insisted that Hopkins establish a medical school of high standards requiring a bachelor's degree representing specific attainments in chemistry, biology, physics, German and French. The Hopkins University Trustees accepted this money with its conditions and immediately prepared to admit the school's first class.

The documents in this record group cover the period between the incorporation of the University and the opening of the Medical School and consist of records of Gilman's Preliminary Medical Survey and the Women's Medical Fund Committee.

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Brief History of the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine

The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine opened its doors for students in 1893. During the previous ten years a top notch faculty had been assembled including Ira Remsen, H. Newell Martin, John Shaw Billings, Franklin P. Mall, William Welch, William Osler, William S. Halsted, and Howard A. Kelly. The latter four in particular dominated the School of Medicine during its formative period.

From the beginning Hopkins set standards which other medical schools followed. Hopkins was the first medical school in the United States to make the college degree a requirement of admission. For the first time all professors in the preclinical branches served on a full-time university basis. Thereafter in medical schools all over the country, medical education became a major concern instead of being largely a proprietary business conducted for profit. Curriculum advances included extensive intern and residency training and the creation of full-time clinical departments. Students at Hopkins became an integral part of the staff of the Johns Hopkins Hospital, learning largely by actual participation in patient care rather than by attendance at lectures. They also participated in research activities in the laboratories and clinics under the supervision of members of the faculty.