Chesney Archives

Johns Hopkins Collection

Johns Hopkins
by Thomas C. Corner

Collection Overview

Creator: Hopkins, Johns (1795 - 1873)
Collection Date: 1782-1918
Extent: 0.56 cubic feet (2 boxes)

Biography

Johns Hopkins was born on his family’s tobacco plantation, Whitehall, in Anne Arundel County, Maryland, and came to Baltimore when he was seventeen to work with his uncle in the wholesale grocery business. He soon learned the trade and later established, along with three of his brothers, the firm Hopkins Brothers. When he had accumulated sufficient capital, he moved into banking, and in time became the leading financier in Baltimore. He invested in the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad, and its stock became the base of his wealth.

In his will, Hopkins made provisions that his fortune be used for the benefit of others. After bequests to family and servants amounting to about one million dollars, there remained approximately seven million dollars to endow a university, a hospital, and a medical school, all to be linked. In 1867, he selected twelve individuals to serve as trustees of a corporation called the Johns Hopkins University, whose purpose was to promote education in the state of Maryland. Likewise, a board was formed for the incorporation of the Johns Hopkins Hospital. To ensure the linking of the institutions, he named the same people to the boards to establish the university and hospital. Just before his death in 1873 Hopkins wrote a letter to the board of trustees of the hospital. In it he outlined his intent for the medical institutions: “In all your arrangements in relation to this hospital, you will bear constantly in mind that it is my wish and purpose that the institution should ultimately form a part of the medical school of that university for which I have made ample provision by my will.”

Scope and Content

The Johns Hopkins Collection contains a small number of correspondence of Johns Hopkins and family members as well as items associated with Mr. Johns Hopkins’ estate and genealogy.

The letters to or from Mr. Johns Hopkins include the following: Letter from Johns Hopkins to his mother, Hannah Hopkins, South River dated April 25, 1840, Baltimore was written shortly after the death of his brother, Mahlon. Letter from Johns Hopkins addressed to his dear sister, is dated August 14, unknown year and mailed from Cape May, New Jersey. Letter from Johns Hopkins to unidentified business associate, and friend provides instruction on handling payment in his absence, of bills received at Merchants Bank for deposit in Planters Bank, and other matters, mailed from Cape May, July 27, 1871. Letter from Elizabeth Smith of Dublin, Ireland to Johns Hopkins, Esquire, dated July 16, 1873, inquiring if the Johns Hopkins she has read about in the newspapers may be her relation, the son of her uncle who departed for America in 1819, the envelope is addressed to Johns Hopkins, Esq City of Baltimore, United States, America. Letter of introduction from John Work Garrett to Johns Hopkins, Esq., Baltimore. The letter introduces J. Morrison Harris, to discuss a subject of “much interest to our community.” Dec 19 1870. Photocopy of letter from Johns Hopkins to W.L. Breckenridge, April 1, 1854.

The letters of Hopkins family members include the following: Handwritten copies of three letters on front and back of one sheet of paper. These include two letters to Richard Hopkins prefaced by a note at the top saying written by my Grand Father or my Grand Mother; a note in pencil at the bottom says “Copied for Jane E. Janney”. The letters are: one from “Johns Hopkins to his son Richard Hopkins, then studying medicine in Philadelphia” dated February 16, 1782; one letter from Elizabeth to her son Richard, “then in Philadelphia” dated July 12, 1784; a note written by Richard on learning of the death of his father, undated. Letter from Samuel Hopkins (brother of Johns), to his brother Joseph J. Hopkins in Brotherton, Anne Arundel County, Maryland August 12, 1837 about sale of tobacco. Letter from Sarah H. Janney to her sister Mary R. Congdon and Gilbert Congdon, Providence, Rhode Island, dated, February 3, 1844, from Cuba where she, Joseph and Margaret were staying with Dr. Finley. Letter from Mary R. Congdon sister of Johns Hopkins, addressed to her sister Sarah H. Janney, Providence, March 15, 1849. With note in margin from Sarah’s son, Samuel who asks if his Uncle Johns is yet, engaged. Letter from Miles White to his mother, Mrs. Frances White, niece of Johns Hopkins, dated, June 24, 1886, from Christiania, Norway. Letter from William H. Welch to Mr. White, congratulating him on his marriage. April 15, 1912. 4 envelopes: Envelope addressed to Francis White, Esq., Care of Thos. R. Matthews, Baltimore, MD United States of America. Return address: Via Liverpool & Boston Steamers. Stamped JY 1846. Envelope addressed to Mrs. Francis White, P.O. Box 362 Baltimore, Maryland, United States of America. This envelope is stamped Hamburg, 1886 (?). Envelope addressed to Sarah H. Janney, No. 87 N. Paca St. Baltimore, Md. It is stamped Germantown Jul 31 with a 3 cent stamp. Envelope addressed to Joseph P. Elliott. Care Dr. Benbow, Greensboro, Guilford Co. N.C. post stamp Baltimore.

The estate and genealogy documents consists of 6 items. First is a brown manila envelope labeled “Bank Shares” and the following inscribed: “This was the envelope used by Johns Hopkins & the above is his own writing. Johns C. Thomas March 14th 1918.” The second is “Letter of Johns Hopkins to the Trustees of The Johns Hopkins Hospital”, March 10, 1873, printed edition. The third is an original printed edition of the will of Johns Hopkins. The forth is a newspaper article from Baltimore Gazette, “Johns Hopkins, His Last Will and Testament” December 29, 1873. The fifth is a newspaper article from 1883 regarding the management of the Hopkins Trust. The sixth item is a copy of “Some Colonial Ancestors of Johns Hopkins” (1900) by Miles White, Jr.

Catalog Record

Additional Links

Johns Hopkins Biographical Archive from Hopkins Retrospective

Hopkins Family Collection at Sheridan Libraries, Special Collections

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