Looking Back: The Class of 1915

By Rachel Shavel, A&S '18, Hopkins Retrospective Student Assistant

Class of 1915 poses on the steps of McCoy Hall on the old Hopkins campus in downtown Baltimore.
University Archives Photograph Collection.

We here at Hopkins Retrospective love throwbacks—it’s what we do best! With graduation on the horizon, we thought we’d provide you with the ultimate 100-year throwback post. Welcome to Hopkins in 1915: a Hopkins with no Internet, no cell phones, and no undergraduate women. A world in which students describe Psychology I as “much ado about nothing” and a Baltimore tailor advertises made-to-order suits for $20 in the yearbook. Needless to say, hundred-year ago Hopkins was certainly a very different place.

With a graduating class of about 35 students, the Class of 1915 was accustomed to a much more intimate Hopkins than we know today. Each graduating senior was granted the privilege of having a yearbook page published about him by the yearbook editors, describing him and his time at Hopkins. Here are some of the things the editors felt it was most important for you, the future of Johns Hopkins University, to know about members of the Class of 1915:

“You always see and smell the pipe first, then you hear Mose.”

“For some unaccountable reason every chair he [Wilmer Brinton Jr.] sits in begins to squeak.”

“During the Reign of Terror (i.e., when we studied Physics) he [Frank Ebaugh] used to dart around like a wild antelope.”

Aside from the Class of 1915’s cheeky humor (which is undoubtedly shared by our very own Class of 2015), other notable facts are that they were the first class to have Hopkins-issued engineering degrees and the first to have a class photo taken on the brand-new Homewood campus. Their yearbook included architect’s drawings of the buildings in progress and still to be built at Homewood. Engineering students had already made the move from the downtown campus, but Arts & Sciences students and university administration would not move until the following year.

In order to be admitted to Hopkins, students had to demonstrate sufficient knowledge in math, English, history, Latin, Greek (or two modern languages) as well as physical botany or a similar science and freehand drawing in order to gain admission. Certainly a little different from the SAT testing we all know and love now! Perhaps even less familiar to the modern Hopkins student was the Class of 1915’s exiting tuition charge– a whopping $150 per year.

We see how much things have changed, and yet we can only imagine what the Class of 2115 will find fascinating about you in 100 years. Congratulations to our Class of 2015 graduates!

Interested in learning more about campus history or graduating classes? We recommend the following resources:

About Jenny Kinniff

Jenny Kinniff is the Program Manager for Hopkins Retrospective, an initiative to explore the history of Hopkins and weave it into the university experience.

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