Co-Education at Hopkins

A guide that examines the history of co-education on the Homewood Campus under the Freshman Fellows 2022-2023 program. Curated by Amy Li (A&S '26) under the mentorship of Katie Carey.

“I wanna be a doctor.” 

“Best school I got into.” 

“Hopkins people are: smart, hardworking, intense, humorous, realistic, and from New Jersey.” 

Reading through old articles and documents in Special Collections, I recognized how the motivation and enthusiasm for higher education remain the same, even after fifty years. Oftentimes, after looking at a piece, I search up the names of the alumna and find what they are doing now. They are doctors, lawyers, scientists, business owners, politicians, and professionals—the female role models for the future that wished they had during their undergraduate years. Despite these barriers, they reached their aspirations and have inspired future generations. These women show that the impossible is possible and advocated for an improved higher education as the instruments of change. As I read about their stories and lived experiences, they remind me to be grateful for the higher education that I have now. 

First Women of Hopkins Reunion, featuring women from Class of 1974, 2012. 

Courtesy of Johns Hopkins Alumni Association

In fact, during my time as a Freshman Fellow, I had the opportunity to speak with some of the first women at Hopkins. At the Friends Advisory Council Spring Meeting, I presented my coeducation research to Baltimore locals, alumni, faculty, and staff who are heavily involved with the University Libraries. After the gathering, many members approached me and revealed that they belonged to some of first coed classes at Hopkins. Other members talked about belonging to the first coed classes outside of Hopkins such as at the University of North Carolina. Witnessing the enthusiasm from the council was a motivating experience—it reminded me how my project allows for women and their stories to be seen and heard. I was engaging with the pioneers of a momentous time in Hopkins’s history, which helped me gain a deeper understanding of the past. I hope to use this opportunity as a Freshman Fellow to demonstrate my appreciation.

Amy Li and Katie Carey at the Friends Advisory Council Spring Meeting, Spring 2023. 

Courtesy of Amy Li

As the Class of 1974 declared in their commencement address: “In the future, Hopkins women should not have to experience any more dramatic transitions. We hope that they will be a part of the process of change, reflecting the growth of the larger institution… We as women expect to work to abolish the social stereotypes for ourselves and for others, as this society begins to acknowledge the capabilities of all its members.” 

I am so grateful for the Freshman Fellows program and Special Collections for all the support and guidance this year. Thank you to my amazing mentor, Katie Carey, for helping me embark on archival research and expand my knowledge about Hopkins. I highly recommend this program for incoming Freshmen, as it has taught me to research differently and in new ways.