Request for Proposal - Johns Hopkins University - Institutional History

Barbara  Kline Pope's picture
Call for Publications
May 9, 2022 to May 27, 2022
Maryland, United States
Subject Fields: 
American History / Studies

Objective. Johns Hopkins University seeks to commission an academically rigorous, comprehensive, institutional history that spans the founding of the university in 1876 through recent times, and that ideally could be published in time to celebrate the 150th anniversary in 2026.

Scope of the project. This institutional history would address all parts of the university and include the origins of the first research university in the nation; the emergence of undergraduate and graduate education; the rise of academic research; the evolving roles of faculty, staff and the administration; the interplay of university and hospital; governance and organizational arrangements; the university’s interaction with the communities surrounding it (Baltimore, Washington D.C. and the federal government, and the world); questions of innovation and translational research; the impact of national political, socioeconomic, and cultural trends on the trajectory of the university (e.g., the uprisings in the 60s, issues of academic freedom and campus culture, the story of selective admissions and financial aid, and the importance of diversity, equity and inclusion); as well as other topics to be outlined by the prospective author(s).

The project is envisioned as a traditional (rather than contextual) history in that chapters will cover time periods in sequential order. The extent of the book is expected to be 175,000 to 225,000 words, including all text, notes, captions, and appendices. It will include black and white photos and be published by Johns Hopkins University Press.

Johns Hopkins University currently consists of ten schools and divisions (the School of Advanced International Studies, the Applied Physics Laboratory, the Kreiger School of Arts and Sciences, the Carey Business School, the School of Education, the Whiting School of Engineering, the School of Medicine, the School of Nursing, the Peabody Institute, and the Bloomberg School of Public Health); the university’s libraries and museums; and multiple academic and cultural centers (including the Berman Institute of Bioethics, the Center for Talented Youth, Jhpeigo, JHU Press, and others).

Comparable books. Examples of books that represent the kind of history being sought include:

1.  Friedland, Martin. (2002) The University of Toronto: A History. University of Toronto Press.

Covering the history of the University from its origins as King's College in 1827 to the present, Martin Friedland weaves together personalities, events, and intellectual ideas to create a scholarly, yet highly readable history that includes major figures such as Northrop Frye and Marshall McLuhan, and dramatic events such as the admission of women in the 1880s, the University College fire of 1890, the University's contributions during the First and Second World Wars, and the student protests of the 1960s.

In researching and writing the book Friedland drew on archival records, private diaries, oral interviews, and a vast quantity of secondary literature. He also drew on his own knowledge of the University as a student in the 1950s, and later as a faculty member and dean of law who was involved in some of the issues he discusses. [From the University of Toronto Press website.]

2.  Boyer, John W. (2015) The University of Chicago: A History. University of Chicago Press.

With The University of Chicago: A History, John W. Boyer, Dean of the College since 1992, presents a deeply researched and comprehensive history of the university. Boyer has mined the archives, exploring the school’s complex and sometimes controversial past to set myth and hearsay apart from fact. The result is a fascinating narrative of a legendary academic community, one that brings to light the nature of its academic culture and curricula, the experience of its students, its engagement with Chicago’s civic community, and the conditions that have enabled the university to survive and sustain itself through decades of change.

Boyer’s extensive research shows that the University of Chicago’s identity is profoundly interwoven with its history, and that history is unique in the annals of American higher education. [From the University of Chicago Press website.]

Access to Archives. The authors and research team for this volume will have access to the university’s archives with active assistance from archivists. The archives for the medical, nursing, and public health schools are located at the Chesney Medical Archives at JHU Mount Washington, north of the JHU Homewood campus in Baltimore. Archives for the Peabody Institute are located in the Mt. Vernon neighborhood in Baltimore. Archives for all but those schools and Peabody are available at the JHU Homewood campus. The JHU archivists have indicated that the JHU archives are very open and that it is comparatively easy to complete research there. They would provide direction on which collections to consider, help with the research, and point to other archival collections in Baltimore that might be useful. The archives include university archives, personal papers, administrative records, guides to archival collections, and other materials dating back to the founding of the university. Parts of the archives are digitized and staff can digitize materials on demand.

Timeline. The university aims to have this book published in time for its 150th anniversary, which is four years from now, and creating a team to ensure this four-year timeline is the first choice. However, the university will entertain other timelines that include a partial delivery of a manuscript and events during the anniversary year.

May 27, 2022: Proposals due from prospective authors
June 2022: Review of proposals; interviews; contract with lead author
July 2022: Assemble the full team
August 2022: Begin work; with milestones created to ensure manuscript delivery
January 2026: Deliver final manuscript to publisher
September 2026: Book published

Structure and characteristics of the team. Given the short timeline for this project, it is projected that there will need to be extensive research assistance. In addition, should the author(s) prefer writing or developmental editing assistance, that will be considered. There will be a project manager assigned to this endeavor. The university leadership is seeking a historian or team of historians to lead this project who will have ample time to devote to the research and writing of this history. Academic historians and independent historians will be considered. Journalists and other writers may be added to the team.

Incentives. Johns Hopkins University is historically interesting and significant. It was the first U.S. research university, setting the stage for the growth of this model throughout the country. With its first- in-the-nation combination of graduate and undergraduate education; its early development of world class schools of medicine and nursing (and later) public health; the rise of internationally renowned humanities programs; and the development of a massive center of physics and engineering largely funded by the federal government, this project will prove to bring to the fore an extremely important part of the history of higher education. Additionally, its place in Baltimore allows for narratives about the benefits and challenges of an early urban university, and about race, housing, and the evolving views of diversity and justice. This is a commissioned history that will include stipends for the expertise, time, and effort put forward by the author(s) and research team.

Other information. A thematic history of the university is continuing on a separate path from this project and will complement this project.

Proposal Guidelines. In your proposal, please cover the following topics:

Vision for the book. Given the parameters set in the above description of this project, please describe the kind of book you envision and the areas of the university, in addition to those described above, you deem important to include. You might include an outline for the book, including a tentative annotated table of contents, along with a list of books that parallel your vision for this book.

Credentials and experience. Please highlight the reasons why you would be a successful lead author for this project in terms of subject matter expertise, experience writing similar books, and demonstrated ability to meet deadlines. Please provide your CV and a few sample chapters (digitally, if possible) from a selection of your published or forthcoming books.

Preferred structure and workplan. In this section, please comment on how you would structure the team in order to meet the goal of writing an evidence-based, high quality, chronological, comprehensive institutional history, ideally by January 2026. What assistance (e.g., research, writing, project management) would you suggest? What would be your general workplan?

Workplace and financial arrangements. Please describe how you would free up time to conduct this work and handle accessing archives in Baltimore and other locations as necessary. Comment on any other considerations regarding place. In this section, you should indicate the financial and other arrangements that you would require in order to deliver a final manuscript to Hopkins Press in January 2026 and collaborate with the Press to see it through peer review and publication in September 2026.

Perceived risks and alternate ideas. This section is designed for you to acknowledge your perception of the risks to meeting the goals of this book. Given those risks, what would be your plan for mitigating them anywhere along the path from planning to publication. If the parameters for the book were not already set, briefly explain how would you approach writing a high-quality history of Johns Hopkins University.

Logistics and deadlines. Please submit your proposal to Barbara Kline Pope, executive director, Johns Hopkins University Press via email by midnight, May 27, 2022.

Contact Info: 

Please submit your proposal to Barbara Kline Pope, Executive Director, Johns Hopkins University Press via email by midnight, May 27, 2022.

Contact Email: