Adams was born in Shutesbury, Massachusetts. He received his early training in the Amherst, Massachusetts public schools and Phillips Exeter Academy. He graduated from Amherst College in 1872, and received the degree of Ph.D. at Heidelberg, Germany, in 1876.
He was a fellow in history at Johns Hopkins University from 1876 to 1878, associate from 1878 to 1883, and was appointed associate professor in 1883. He is credited with bringing the study of politics into the realm of the social sciences.
At Johns Hopkins, in 1880, he began his famous seminar in history, where a large proportion of the next generation of American historians trained. Adams founded the "Johns Hopkins Studies in Historical and Political Science," the first of such series, and brought about the organization in 1884 of the American Historical Association. His historical writings introduced scientific methods of investigation that influenced many historians, including Frederick Jackson Turner and John Spencer Bassett. He authored Life and Writings of Jared Sparks (1893) and many articles and influential reports on the study of the social sciences.
He was the secretary of the American Historical Association at its foundation in 1884. In 1873 he went to Europe and devoted three years to travel and study. His principal writings are The Germanic Origin of the New England Towns; Saxon Tithing-Men in America; Norman Constables in America; Village Communities; Methods of Historical Study, and Maryland's Influence upon Land Cessions to the United States. All these papers are published in the Johns Hopkins University Studies in Historical and Political Science, edited by Prof. Adams, 4 vols. (Baltimore, 1883-'86). Although less known for his contributions to the history of education, Adams was essential to its early development. He edited the circular series titled, "Contributions to American Educational History," which was printed and distributed by the U.S. Bureau of Education.
Herbert B. Adams died in 1901.
Exclusive Revolutionaries: Liberal Politics, Social Experience, and National Identity in the Austrian Empire, 1848-1914.(Herbert Baxter Adams Prize awarded to Pieter M. Judson)
Sep 22, 1998; Exclusive Revolutionaries: Liberal Politics, Social Experience, and National Identity in the Austrian Empire, 1848-1914. By...