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Development Programs records

 Record Group
Identifier: RG-11-002

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Scope and Contents

These records document the University's fundraising efforts during the period between the founding of the University and the establishment of the Johns Hopkins Fund in 1951. Although the records span the years 1893 to 1952, the bulk of the material dates from 1926 to 1938, during which time Hopkins conducted three major campaigns (the Half-Century Fund, the Emergency Campaign of 1933, and the Sustaining Fund of 1936) in rapid succession. Since there was no official development office during this time, these records, consisting of memoranda, correspondence, prospect lists, financial records, reports and a scrapbook, were subsequently gathered from many offices by Fund staff. The Office of the President is the most heavily represented, but records of the Board of Trustees, the Treasurer, the Provost, as well as committees of alumni and concerned citizens, are all present.

The record group is arranged in a single series, with files from each campaign grouped together chronologically. Within folders, records are also arranged chronologically. Ten bound volumes, all dating from the time of the Half-Century Fund, are located at the beginning of the record group. A report, detailing the histories of many of the University's special funds and endowments created between 1873 and 1952, has been filed at the end of the record group.


  • Creation: 1893-1952



The original endowment of the University, which Johns Hopkins bequeathed when he died in 1873, consisted of 330 acres of land at his Clifton estate, 15,000 shares of Baltimore and Ohio Railroad common stock, and other securities valued at $750,000. The total was appraised in 1875 at $3,148,847, an amount which was at that time comparable to the endowments of the nation's oldest and richest colleges. Hopkins requested in his Will that only the interest and not the principal be used, and that the Trustees should not divest of the B&O stock. This left the new University with an annual income of about $200,000, most of which was derived from B&O dividends. Because the endowment was so large, most of the citizens of Baltimore assumed that it was more than adequate to meet the needs of the University, a notion that President Gilman tried to dispel in his inaugural address, and one that was to cause great difficulty for fundraisers later on. In March 1876, the University received its first bequest, $23,000 from the estate of Dr. Henry Baxley, which was used to endow a medical professorship, first bestowed upon Dr. William Henry Welch. The next gift was not made until 1884, when a collection of Egyptian antiquities belonging to Colonel Mendes Cohen was given to the University by his nephews upon his death.

By 1887, Hopkins had already achieved a reputation as a prestigious university. President Gilman naturally wanted to improve and expand the teaching and research work, but his dreams were crushed by a failure in the B&O stock, to which the fate of the University was tied. In May 1887, Hopkins lost over three-quarters of its annual income as the Railroad first reduced, and then eliminated, dividends on its common stock. To meet the crisis, tuition was increased, economies were put into effect, and the Trustees dipped into the reserve which they had been accumulating for the purpose of building a new campus. In 1888, William W. Spence, a Baltimore merchant, volunteered to head a fundraising campaign to offset the loss of revenue from B&O stock. The Emergency Fund of 1889, the University's first fundraising campaign, resulted in receipts of $108,700 from 32 donors who contributed over one thousand dollars each. Most of the donors were from Baltimore. The first campaign was therefore not an open appeal but a selective solicitation of a few wealthy citizens of Baltimore who recognized the University's contribution to the city. The money was used to tide Hopkins over until the Trustees were able to exchange the shares of B&O common stock for preferred shares paying a six percent dividend, which restored their annual income.

In 1890, a group of Baltimore women conducted a campaign to raise money for the Medical School, which needed an endowment of $500,000 before it could open. The Women's Medical School Fund provided $100,000 plus an additional contribution from Mary Elizabeth Garrett, on the condition that the Medical School be open to women. This Fund allowed the establishment of the Medical School, but again the campaign was directed toward a specific audience and had a specific goal.

As a result of these first campaigns, President Gilman hailed the beginning of a new financial era in which the University would receive income outside of its original endowment. Although gifts did increase, Hopkins remained financially cautious. Gilman shelved his plans for expansion and the University was barely able to hold its own. In 1896 another crisis arose. Due to a depression, dividends were suspended on both B&O common and preferred stock. At the same time, an offer was extended to President Gilman to become superintendent of the New York City public school system. The Trustees, faculty and alumni all declared that Gilman's resignation would be a disaster for the University. In order to prevent such a disaster, the leading businessmen of Baltimore began a campaign to raise a quarter of a million dollars for Johns Hopkins.

The Relief Fund of 1896 was the first popular movement in support of the University. A total of $233,353 was collected from a large number of both large and small contributors, including about ten thousand dollars from Hopkins alumni. In addition, the campaign was conducted mostly by volunteers, with leadership provided by successful businessmen who worked just as hard for the campaign as for their own businesses. Fundraising at that time was a new field, and was not yet professionalized. Another precedent was established in 1898, as the Maryland Legislature, in recognition of the University's contribution to the state, appropriated $50,000 for two years in order to help the University through its financial emergency. Also in 1898, Hopkins diversified its investments, breaking the link which had tied the prosperity of the University to that of the B&O Railroad.

Since 1886, Hopkins had been standing still while other universities steadily advanced. This relative decline was reversed in 1902, as the University entered a new era of expansion. Besides the financial crises, another constraint on the University's growth was its cramped location in downtown Baltimore. University officials had not wanted to squander money on a handsome campus at Clifton initially, although they fully expected to move there as soon as it became feasible. It became increasingly clear however, that Clifton was inadequate as a site, chiefly because it was too far from the center of the city and from the medical school. In addition, portions had been condemned and seized for a reservoir and a railroad right of way, and in 1895 the Trustees agreed to sell the remainder of the property to the city for use as a park.

As the downtown campus became increasingly inadequate, President Gilman began searching for a new site and solicited the assistance of William Keyser, a wealthy Baltimore businessman with an interest in education, and particularly in Johns Hopkins. In 1898, Keyser's cousin, William Wyman, wishing to preserve his estate at Homewood from the outward expansion of the city, consulted Keyser on the possibility of leaving his 60-acre estate to the University. Keyser approved and proposed buying the other half of the estate from Wyman's brother and donating it to the University as well, making the entire gift approximately 120 acres, including several smaller donations to round out the property. After some delay this was accomplished, and in 1901 the Board of Trustees accepted the offer, contingent upon Hopkins raising an additional one million dollars to increase its endowment.

The gift of Homewood, along with the Endowment Campaign of 1902, coinciding with the University's 25th Anniversary Celebration, was the first campaign with the purpose of allowing for expansion, rather than just offsetting a loss of revenue. As a result of the campaign and the acquisition of a new campus site, faculty morale, which had been dropping due to the physical and financial straits, began to improve. Over a million dollars was raised in the campaign, allowing for a number of overdue faculty appointments and promotions. Without the gift of Homewood, which allowed for expansion, and without the success of the fundraising campaign, which provided the resources needed to make Hopkins attractive to scholars, the University surely would lost some of the prestige it had gained in its first twenty-five years of existence.

By 1901, the endowment of the University was a little over five million dollars, roughly half of which had come from the original bequest. The total assets of the University were valued at seven million dollars. The improvement of the Homewood site progressed slowly until 1909, when the General Education Board, a philanthropic foundation, offered to give the University $250,000 contingent upon its raising another $750,000.

The Endowment and Extension Fund of 1910 raised a total of $1,202,299, most of which came from Baltimore citizens, including Trustees and, for the first time, private foundations. Half a million dollars was retained for the endowment, and the remainder was put into a building fund for the Homewood campus; out of this fund came the money to pay for the construction of Gilman Hall, begun in 1912.

By the time the University officially moved to Homewood in 1916, several buildings had been erected: Gilman Hall, the Civil Engineering Building (now Latrobe Hall), the Mechanical Engineering Building (now Maryland Hall), the Power House, and small plant physiology and botany laboratories. Meanwhile, annual deficits were growing once again, partly due to the expense of moving to Homewood, and partly because of the First World War. In order to meet operating expenses for three years, the Maintenance Fund of 1916 was organized to raise $210,000. Total receipts were $232,580, contributed mostly by public-spirited friends of the University and alumni. As with the first two campaigns, this campaign was limited, directed towards a select audience, and mainly initiated by private citizens. In 1918, the University received its largest gift yet, a bequest of nearly five million dollars from Joseph R. DeLamar, to be used by the School of Medicine and the School of Hygiene and Public Health. In 1919, Hopkins alumni sought to raise $300,000 for a dormitory to memorialize their classmates killed in the war, but only $114,000 was collected. This failure was due in part to a prevailing belief that a dormitory was not vital to the University, but it was also an indication of Hopkins's lack of alumni, especially wealthy alumni, when compared to other prestigious universities.

By 1924 the endowment had grown to $24 million and the University's annual budget had risen to about $1.5 million, with roughly 48 percent going to the Homewood divisions, 32 percent going to the School of Medicine, and 22 percent for the School of Hygiene and Public Health. Approximately 68 percent of the income was being spent on salaries, a very high proportion when compared to most universities. The University was beginning to show a deficit, and still had ambitious plans for expansion, so as Hopkins approached its fiftieth anniversary, it began to prepare for its most ambitious fundraising effort yet. The University and the Hospital jointly contracted with a private consulting firm, the John Price Jones Company of New York, to assess the financial condition of the Johns Hopkins Institutions and to plan for the upcoming campaign. The Half-Century Fund, a joint campaign with the Hospital, began in 1925 with a goal of $10,890,000, far larger than anything attempted in the past. John Price Jones, in addition to providing advice and planning, furnished an Executive Secretary and a Publicity Director to work full time on the campaign. There were about twenty-five paid workers in all. The responsibility for the general operation of the campaign still lay with the Boards of Trustees of the University and Hospital, however, and most of the Trustees contributed towards some aspect of the campaign. The General Chairman of the campaign was Daniel Willard, a prominent businessman, President of the B&O Railroad, and a University Trustee who succeeded Brent Keyser as President of the Board in 1926. Willard contributed a great deal of time to the campaign and won the admiration of the whole University. A little over seven million dollars was received, including $1.5 million from the General Education Board. Much of the money was restricted for the use of the medical institutions, so the increase in unrestricted endowment was not as great as had been desired. Reflecting a trend which had started in 1911, a higher percentage of the total came from national sources, with less from Baltimore than in earlier campaigns.

With the onset of the Depression in 1929, expansion came to a halt, and the University struggled to hold on. A 1929 campaign to raise endowment money for the newly-formed Institute of Law was abandoned, and the Institute itself closed in 1934. All divisions felt the impact as donations decreased and donors were forced to default on previous pledges of support. But the Homewood operations were hit hardest of all, for the Medical School was still able to attract restricted money for specific projects. In the next few years foundations came to play a major role in the financing of colleges and universities, especially Hopkins. This reflected both a proliferation of foundations and their increasing interest in education. An Emergency Fund of 1933, addressed to the citizens of Baltimore, raised about $140,000, but this did not even begin to cover the deficit, which by 1935 had reached almost one million dollars. In that year the endowment of the School of Medicine was $16.8 million, the School of Hygiene's was $6 million, while the Homewood divisions had a mere $4.3 million. Also in 1935, the Hospital conducted its first fundraising campaign independent of the University. The next year the University started the Sustaining Fund of 1936, with the goal of raising $750,000 to meet the deficits of the next three years. A total of $523,563 was raised while investment income increased due to an easing of the Depression.

A Continuing Fund was established in 1939 to raise additional money to meet deficits, and it managed to bring in a total of $78,413. The Second World War caused further financial problems as costs of operation increased and tuition income declined. The Sustaining Fund of 1942 raised a total of $296,880 before it was discontinued due to the War. During this period, however, the University became a major recipient of government research money, which soon became a primary source of revenue.

After the war, a Development Program was begun in order to increase endowment and raise money for new buildings. A total of $20 million was sought, $2 million of that total from the Baltimore community. Then, in 1947, an annual alumni Roll Call was started. Originally part of the Development Program, it was separated in 1948 and placed under the supervision of the Alumni Relations Office. Neither of these programs achieved much success, however. In the period 1946-1949, the University raised only $1,372,322, and $1.11 million of that was the result of a single large gift. It was therefore decided to reorganize the development program, and the Johns Hopkins Fund, Inc., a joint venture between the University and the Hospital, was founded. For the history of that organization, and of University development efforts for the period after 1950, see Record Group 11.005, The Johns Hopkins Fund, Inc.


1.47 Cubic Feet (3 letter size document boxes, 1 letter half-size document box, 2 Books)

Language of Materials



The bound volumes of financial records were transferred by Ron Sapp, Vice President for Business Services. A few items came from the University History Collection in the Special Collections Department of the Milton S. Eisenhower Library, and the remaining records (the greatest proportion) were transferred by Anna Ray Suter, Director of Research and Records in the Development Office.

Accession Number

79.126, 81.27, 81.42, 82.31, 84.9

Processing Information

Finding aid prepared by Brian Harrington and Wayne Kimball.

Development Programs records
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English

Repository Details

Part of the Special Collections Repository

The Sheridan Libraries
Special Collections
3400 N Charles St
Baltimore MD 21218 USA