Pioneers of Scholarship
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Far and Wide
By Barbara J. Kiviat '01
It is one of the noblest duties of a university to advance knowledge, and to diffuse it not merely among those who can attend the daily lectures--but far and wide." So said Daniel Coit Gilman, the university's first president. To achieve that noble mission, Gilman inaugurated the Johns Hopkins University Press. Founded in 1878, it is the oldest continuously operating university press in North America.
"I've lived with that Gilman quote for a long time," says Jack G. Goellner, director emeritus of the Press (1974-1995). "I've offered it as the best rationale I've ever come across as the reason for the university press."
The Hopkins Press got its start publishing scholarly journals, beginning with The American Journal of Mathematics in 1878. Today the Press publishes more than 50 journals, including American Quarterly, American Journal of Philology, Bulletin of the History of Medicine, and Milton Quarterly.
The Press entered the world of scholarly book publishing in 1882, and over the years has published countless works of lasting value. A few highlights:
Between 1932 and 1957 the Press issued in 11 volumes the variorum edition of the works of the English poet Edmund Spenser. It is considered to be one of the most distinguished works ever published by the Press.
Walker's Mammals of the
World: an enduring,
1,500-page work containing photographs and scientific
descriptions of every known genus of mammal. The book is now in
its sixth edition.
The Johns Hopkins Atlas of Functional Human Anatomy: authored by revered medical illustrator Leon Schlossberg, who taught on the Hopkins faculty for half a century. The atlas was first published in 1976. It since has been translated into many languages and is a staple of classroom instruction around the world.
In recent years the Press has expanded into the market of electronic books and journals. Its subscriber-based Project Muse offers an online electronic database of journals published by Johns Hopkins and other university presses. "We have had a tremendous success with Project Muse," says Press director Jim Jordan, "and we expect it to continue to grow."
The Press also offers two of its most popular and influential books--The Johns Hopkins Guide to Literary Criticism and Theory and Walker's Mammals of the World--in electronic edition.
"Part of the role of the Press is as an ambassador of the university," says Jordan, who notes that he has agents in Canada, Europe, Asia, Australia, and New Zealand. "Each time we get books into distribution we are essentially increasing the visibility of the university around the world."
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