Mission | People | Collaborators


Launched in fall 2020, the Hard Histories at Hopkins Project examines the role that racism and discrimination have played at Johns Hopkins. Blending research, teaching, public engagement, and the creative arts, Hard Histories aims to engage our broadest communities—at Johns Hopkins and in Baltimore—in a frank and informed exploration of how racism has been produced and permitted to persist as part of our structure and our practice. 

Expect from us new insights into lesser-known chapters in the history of Johns Hopkins. Also look out for opportunities to study and discuss the implications of our past for our present and future. Student researchers will help lead Hard Histories through research in our history lab, working through the archival record. Our partners will come from across our university and the city of Baltimore.

Our solutions will emerge out of new understandings and new relationships. We welcome you as a researcher partner, for a conversation, as a voice on our blog, as a collaborator, and as a critic. 

Through the lessons of hard histories, we will chart a way forward. Join us.


Martha S. Jones, Director

Society of Black Alumni Presidential Professor
Professor of History and the SNF Agora Institute

Martha S. JonesProfessor Martha S. Jones is the Society of Black Alumni Presidential Professor, and Professor of History and the SNF Agora Institute at The Johns Hopkins University. She is a legal and cultural historian whose work examines how black Americans have shaped the story of American democracy.  

Professor Jones is the author of Vanguard: How Black Women Broke Barriers, Won the Vote, and Insisted on Equality for All (2020), winner of the 2020 LA Times Book Prize in History, the finalist for the 2020 Mark Lynton History Prize from the Columbia Journalism School and the Neiman Foundation for Journalism, and one of Time’s 100 must-read books for 2020. Her 2018 book, Birthright Citizens: A History of Race and Rights in Antebellum America (2018), was winner of the Organization of American Historians Liberty Legacy Award (best book in civil rights history), the American Historical Association Littleton-Griswold Prize (best book in American legal history), the American Society for Legal History John Phillip Reid book award (best book in Anglo-American legal history), and the Baltimore City Historical Society Scholars honor for 2020. Professor Jones is also author of All Bound Up Together: The Woman Question in African American Public Culture, 1830-1900 (2007) and a coeditor of Toward an Intellectual History of Black Women (University of North Carolina Press (2015), together with many articles and essays. 

In 2017, as a Bicentennial Professor at the University of Michigan, she curated Stumbling Blocks, a series of pop-up art installations that explored difficult moments across the university’s history.


Hopkins Retrospective

Hopkins Retrospective, launched in 2013, is an initiative to expand our understanding of the history of Johns Hopkins University and weave that history into the university experience. It includes a comprehensive history of the university, presently being researched and written by Professor Stuart “Bill” Leslie.

The SNF Agora Institute

The Stavros Niarchos Foundation Agora Institute at Johns Hopkins, founded in 2017, is a multi-disciplinary academic and public forum dedicated to strengthening global democracy by improving and expanding civic engagement and inclusive dialogue, and by supporting inquiry that leads to real-world change.

Our research is indebted to: