Biographical / Historical
The Johns Hopkins University Press, the oldest North American university press in continuous operation, celebrated its centennial in 1978. Strictly speaking, however, there was no event in 1878 that can really be called the "founding" of the Press as it stands today. What did take place in that year was the publication of the first issue of the American Journal of Mathematics "under the auspices of" the Publication Agency of the Johns Hopkins University and with the "aid and furtherance" of the University itself.
Specialized journals for the dissemination of American and even international research and scholarship were central to the "university idea" promulgated by Daniel C. Gilman, the first President of the University. At his encouragement, the first of many such "learned journals" to be published at Hopkins, the American Journal of Mathematics, began publication in 1878 under the editorship of Professor James J. Sylvester. At its inception the Journal was not, however, organized or administered as a University property. It was a non profit enterprise which "belonged" to its editor. The University's role was that of chief subscriber. The University Trustees subscribed to a sufficient number of copies for the Journal to pay its deficits, and the copies were then used by the Hopkins Library for exchanges with other institutions.
The Publication Agency, which oversaw these arrangements, had been organized when the University first opened, but the activities of this progenitor of the Press were quite limited during its first few years of operation. It was initially responsible solely for the "official publications" of the University: the Register, the Annual Report of the President, and the Circular. As early as 1879, however, when Nicholas Murray became its Manager, the Publication Agency saw an important expansion of its activities. The Circular, which had begun simply as a list of courses and dates, expanded to include papers, abstracts, speeches, minutes from learned societies, and even short monographs. This new orientation for the Circular, although impermanent, combined with the simultaneous proliferation of learned journals to diversify the operations of the Publication Agency and lay the groundwork for a scholarly university press.
The Journal of Mathematics was followed in 1879 by the American Chemical Journal, edited by Professor Remsen. In 1880 the American Journal of Philology commenced publication, under the editorship of Professor Gildersleeve. The Johns Hopkins University Studies in Historical and Political Science, the first monograph series among the Hopkins publications, commenced in 1882 under the editorship of Professor Herbert B. Adams. A Journal of Physiology was published between 1881 and 1884, Studies from the Biological Laboratory between 1879 and 1883, and Memoirs from the Biological Laboratory between 1887 and 1903. American Journals of Archaeology and Geology were also published for brief periods during the 1880s. The opening of the Johns Hopkins Hospital in 1889 was followed by the first issue, published later that year, of the Johns Hopkins Hospital Bulletin.
In addition to this wide variety of journals and periodicals, the Publication Agency produced several notable volumes during its first decade and a half. A facsimile edition of a manuscript copy of the Didache (Teaching of the Apostles) was published in 1887. An excursion map and accompanying description of Baltimore and its environs was published in 1884. An 1889 volume contained Professor Rowland's photographs of the solar spectrum. As the Publication Agency evolved into a true university press, it also laid the groundwork for what became the University Bookstore. This was done through Murray's establishment of a New Book Department in 1876. Murray accepted various books from publishers on consignment, exhibited them in Publication Agency offices, and took orders from faculty and students. In a related procedure, Murray in 1888 instituted the exchange of copies of Hopkins doctoral dissertations with those from universities all over the world.
In 1891 Murray became Librarian of the Johns Hopkins University. That same year, he gave a new name to an organization he had helped to create; he submitted his Annual Report under the heading "The Johns Hopkins Press" rather than the old "Publication Agency." Murray remained Manager of the Press during his tenure as Librarian (1891-1908) and both divisions benefitted from this period of joint administration. In 1894 the offices of the Press were moved from the old Administration Building to the newly built McCoy Hall, where the Library had also found a new home. This period saw the publication of several notable volumes and the introduction of new serials. W. K. Brooks' popular study of American Oyster Culture was first published in 1891. The first volume of Haupt's Polychrome Bible was issued in 1893, though the edition was never completed. A new serial, Terrestrial Magnetism and Atmospheric Electricity, and a new monograph series, The Albert Shaw Lectures on Diplomatic History, both commenced in 1899. Reprints of Economic Tracts, another monograph series, commenced in 1903. That same year, the Press took over the business management of Modern Language Notes (MLN), which had been privately managed and published by Professor A. Marshall Elliott since 1886. In 1910 MLN became the property of the University.
When Murray retired from both of his positions in 1908, it was decided to separate the administration of the Press from that of the Library. Accordingly, Christian W. Dittus became "Secretary" of the Press, and was responsible to a Press Committee that was identical to the Library Committee except for its chairman. A new composition for the Press Committee was decided upon in 1921, at which time Dittus acquired the title of "Manager." Dittus's long tenure (1908 1948) saw many new developments. The Press offices and the new University Bookstore were installed in the newly built Gilman Hall in 1916. Although the prestigious American Chemical Journal was taken over by the American Chemical Society in 1914, several new journals and monograph series were launched at the Press. The American Journal of Hygiene, the organ of the new School of Hygiene and Public Health, was started in 1921. Monograph series entitled "Studies in. . ." were begun in the fields of Education (1917), Comparative Psychology (1922), Romance Languages and Literature (1923), and Archaeology (1924). ELH (English Literary History), a journal begun by the Tudor and Stuart Club in 1934, became a Press publication in 1936. A Variorum Edition of the Works of Edmund Spenser was published during the 1930s. In 1938 the 60th anniversary of the Press was celebrated with an exhibit at the Homewood Campus entitled "A Progress of Printing."
In 1948 Harold Ingle became the third Director of the Press. When he assumed the office the Press staff consisted of four people; about a dozen books were being published annually for a sales total of $75,000. Like Murray and Dittus, Ingle oversaw the Press for an unusually long period (1948 1974, including two years, 1959 1961, as President of the Association of American University Presses). During that time, the Press experienced unprecedented growth in the size and scope of its operations. An Editorial Department was added in 1951. In 1956 the Press became publisher for Resources for the Future, Inc., a research group on the environment, energy, and urban development. A similar collaboration had been arranged with the World Bank in 1952. The Press left its overcrowded Gilman Hall offices in 1961 for larger facilities on York Road, but returned to the Homewood Campus in 1972 when it was given a suite of offices in Whitehead Hall. In 1985 offices were moved to 701 West 40th Street.
Ingle's tenure saw important growth in sales, with 1967 the first year in which a total of more than one million dollars was recorded. Foreign Press sales were expedited by the establishment in 1969 of The Johns Hopkins Press Ltd., a wholly owned British subsidiary, which was supplemented by other foreign distributors and agents. The Press also successfully introduced items other than the traditional books and journals. An 18 inch plastic model of the human skeleton went on sale in 1961, and an Audio Visual Division providing tapes and slides was started in 1974.
The Johns Hopkins University Press acquired its present name in 1972. Jack Goellner became the fourth Director of the Press in 1974. By that time, the Press had a staff of 50 and published about 75 books annually for a sales total (from books and journals) of about $1.8 million. Two books published in 1974, Frederic C. Lane's Venice: A Maritime Republic and Suzanne Langer's Mind: An Essay on Human Feeling, vol. 2 were nominated for National Book Awards. The Chesapeake Bay in Maryland, published for the Natural Resources Institute of the University of Maryland, was a popular volume throughout the 1970s.
The Johns Hopkins University Press celebrated its centennial in 1978. In honor of the event, the Association of American University Presses held its Annual Meeting in Baltimore. The same year saw the Press's first two million dollar total in book sales alone, with an additional one-half million dollars in journals sales.