Uncertainty in the Archives
Archives can reveal treasures. And, despite the reams of minutes from decades of trustee board meetings, Hopkins's historic holdings are no exception.
While researching this issue's feature about the pressures faced by archives today, I stumbled across all sorts of tidbits that didn't fit into the article because of space or focus.
Take the "1000 file", also known informally as the "crackpot file," kept by the Office of the President over the years. As Hopkins archivist Jim Stimpert explains, the 1000 file (origin of name unknown) holds those letters that seem to have no other place. Some, for example, may have a religious bent. Says Stimpert: "Some people feel the need to send an epistle to university leaders."
Over the years, university presidents have also received a letter or two from folks claiming to hold title to the property on which the school sits. They have offered to lease that land to Hopkins for a small fee.
Even fairly recent events can seem historic.
In the early 1960s, Baltimore businesses were turning away Hopkins' black students. Discrimination was rampant in area restaurants, barbershops, movie theaters and apartment houses.
Campus professors wrote reports pressing the college to help end segregation: Only 10 percent of off-campus apartments listed in Hopkins' housing bureau were open to all students, one survey showed.
In a 1967 letter campaign, Hopkins warned business owners against discrimination based on race, creed, or national origin. The university asked merchants on Hopkins leases and private landlords to sign pledges.
"We look to you to follow [a] policy of nondiscrimination..." the letter states. "In order that the university may be assured of your clear understanding and acceptance of the above, we will appreciate your signing the enclosed carbon of this letter."
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