Johns Hopkins

The public wards at Hopkins were filled with patients, most of them black and unable to pay their medical bills. David drove Henrietta nearly twenty miles to get there, not because they preferred it, but because it was the only major hospital for miles that treated black patients.
The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, pg. 15

Johns Hopkins poses in this portrait in a black suit. Mr. Johns Hopkins was a successful businessman who established both JHU and the B&O railroad. Mr. Hopkins was born one of 12 children on his parents’ tobacco farm. As Quakers, they emancipated their slaves. It is thought that this was the reason JHU was set up as a charity hospital.

Toward the end of the 19th century, American medical education was in chaos; most medical schools were little more than trade schools. Often, it was easier to gain admission to one of these than to a liberal arts college. With the opening of The Johns Hopkins Hospital in 1889, followed four years later by The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Johns Hopkins ushered in a new era marked by rigid entrance requirements for medical students, a vastly upgraded medical school curriculum with emphasis on the scientific method, the incorporation of bedside teaching and laboratory research as part of the instruction, and integration of the School of Medicine with the Hospital through joint appointments. (Johns Hopkins Medicine)


Book cover for Johns Hopkins, A Silouette. Thom, Helen Hopkins. Johns Hopkins: A Silhouette (The Johns Hopkins University Press) 1929.
Helen Hopkins Thom -- granddaughter of Johns Hopkins's older brother Joseph -- began collecting material for this portrait when it was possible to talk to people who had actually known the founder of the Johns Hopkins University. Her research became of vital importance when it was discovered that Hopkins himself -- owing to a deep sense of humility -- had destroyed virtually all of his papers before he died in 1873. First published in 1929, this biography still stands as the authoritative account of Hopkins's life, his business career, and the motives that lay behind his decision to leave his fortune to establish a university and hospital.


  • Mr. Johns Hopkins (Johns Hopkins University) January 1974.
    One hundred years ago, on December 24, 1873, a Quaker businessman named Johns Hopkins died, leaving the unprecedented sum of over seven million dollars to found the hospital and university which bear his name. The centennial of his death seems a suitable time to review the life of this shrewd, heavy-handed, hard-nosed, tight-fisted, civic-minded, child-loving, and generous man.

  • Johns Hopkins Obituary (John Hopkins University) Baltimore, Thursday Morning, December 25, 1873.
    Death of Johns Hopkins, His Last illness Life and Character His Career as a Merchant and Banker His Benevolent Enterprises Monuments of Learning and Charity, &c.

  • What Hopkins Built, and Where (Johns Hopkins Medicine)
    Johns Hopkins had no intention, at first, of putting his Hospital on the site of Maryland's debt-ridden insane asylum, where in the end it landed. What Hopkins had in mind was a peaceful retreat, a pavilion-style hospital surrounded by well-kept gardens and wrought-iron fences on his 330-acre country estate.

  • Revolution in American Medicine (Johns Hopkins Medicine)
    Hopkins earned its reputation by radically transforming medical education and the practice of medicine and medical research. 

  • Our Heritage (Johns Hopkins Medicine)
    The Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions were the vision-and the gift-of Quaker merchant Johns Hopkins, who wished to unite in a single enterprise a three-fold mission: to produce superior physicians, to seek new knowledge for the advancement of medicine and to administer the finest patient care.

  • A Brief History of JHU (Johns Hopkins University)
    The Johns Hopkins University opened in 1876, with the inauguration of its first president, Daniel Coit Gilman. "What are we aiming at?" Gilman asked in his installation address. "The encouragement of research ... and the advancement of individual scholars, who by their excellence will advance the sciences they pursue, and the society where they dwell."

  • Frequently Asked Questions (Johns Hopkins University)