The Scientific Association of the Johns Hopkins University was originally organized by Professor Ira Remsen on October 24, 1877 "for the purpose of keeping those connected with one of the departments (then mathematics, physics, chemistry, and biology) informed as to the work being done in kindred subjects." The eight meetings during the academic year were to have three parts: the presentation of papers, summaries of important journal articles, and investigation of subjects of general interest to the public. The latter two disappear from the minutes early on; however, abstracts from the papers presented were frequently included, often cut from the pages of The Johns Hopkins Circular and pasted into the minutes book. These too disappeared by 1890.
Members of the Association were of three types: Honorary, Ordinary, and Associate. The first were prominent members of the worldwide scientific community, elected to the Society in recognition of their work; the second, members of the Hopkins scientific community, originally both students and teachers but later limited to faculty only; and the last being "any person interested in or devoted to science," to be nominated by Ordinary or Honorary members. Only the former two were allowed to vote at the yearly elections or hold office. Among the Society's members were such immediately recognizable Hopkins names as the Association's founder, Ira Remsen (professor of chemistry and president of the university), its first president, James Sylvester (professor of mathematics), Henry Rowland (professor of physics), Joseph Ames (professor of physics), Jacob Hollander (professor of economics), John Whitehead (professor of electrical engineering), and Herbert Spencer Jennings (professor of zoology).
The original constitution of the Association was rewritten in 1919, reducing the yearly meetings to four, inviting graduate students to become members again, and proposing that the bulk of the papers be given by more members of other universities than Hopkins. The minutes end with the ratification of the new constitution on October 19, 1919.