Johns Hopkins Magazine -- November 1999
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The Early Years: An Uphill Climb

Decades before the undergraduate body became coed at Hopkins, in 1970, women were striving to make their marks across the university:

1874: Two years before Hopkins officially opens, university trustees ask other university presidents their opinions on coeducation. Harvard's president, Charles William Eliot, responds that coeducation is "a thoroughly wrong idea which is rapidly disappearing." Hopkins's first president, Daniel Coit Gilman (pictured at right), concurs; he declares that he favors the higher education of women--but at separate institutions.

The Women's Fund Committee provided funding for a coeducational School of Medicine
1877: Martha Carey Thomas, daughter of trustee James Carey Thomas, applies to take graduate studies in Greek. Emily Nunn applies for admission to biology lectures. The trustees refuse these requests, although women are permitted to attend public and special lectures. Thomas persists, and is eventually enrolled as a candidate for the AM degree, allowed to take exams and receive guidance from faculty but barred from attending classes. She withdraws after a year and later completes her PhD (summa cum laude) at the University of Zurich. She helps to found Bryn Mawr College in 1885 and later becomes its second president.

1878: The trustees permit Christine Ladd to attend lectures without being enrolled. Ladd earns her doctorate in mathematics in 1882, but Hopkins refuses to award it to her. She becomes the first woman in the Faculty of Philosophy (Arts & Sciences), and is a lecturer from 1904 to 1909. In subsequent years, Ladd-Franklin (her married name) contributes significant theories to the field of logic and color vision. Hopkins finally awards her a doctorate in 1926.
1893: Geologist Florence Bascom earns a doctorate in geology, becoming the first woman to receive a degree from Hopkins.

Picture at right: Women were admitted to non-credit courses as early as 1877. Here, a geology field trip in Green Spring Valley, April 22, 1899.
1893: The first class of medical students, which includes three women, enters the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. The school's benefactors, the Women's Fund Committee, had arranged to raise funds to establish the school, provided women were admitted under the same terms as men.

1897-1902: Gertrude Stein studies at the School of Medicine.

Picture at left: Soon after admission to graduate programs in 1907, women became a familiar sight in labs and libraries.
April 1, 1907: The trustees vote to allow the admission of female graduate students.

March 4, 1924: Florence E. Bamberger becomes the first woman in the Faculty of Philosophy (Arts and Sciences) to be appointed full professor.

1930: Maria Goeppert Mayer, who would later share the 1963 Nobel Prize in physics, arrives at Hopkins with her husband, Joseph Mayer, who is appointed to the chemistry department. Nepotism rules forbid Maria Mayer from attaining a faculty position. She is granted an assistantship.

1932: Rachel Carson (pictured at right) earns a master's degree in biology. Her later books, The Sea Around Us (1951) and Silent Spring (1962), help start the environmental movement.

November 10, 1969: The board of trustees resolves to admit women undergraduates.

1970: A few local women enter Hopkins in the spring. In September, 90 women enroll.

Source for photos and text: Includes Women at the Johns Hopkins University: A History, by Julia B. Morgan '76 (JHU Press, 1986).