When Was St John’s College Founded?

Many Colleges and Universities throughout the World, use the name St. John’s, however, they are not to be confused with one of the most prestigious and distinguished academic institutions in the United States, St. John’s College in Annapolis, Maryland. let’s see more about “When Was St John’s College Founded?”

When Was St John’s College Founded?

Since its inception, it has grown, evolved, and changed with the most notable advancements being a curriculum shift in 1937, focusing solely on the study of classic books or “Great Books” of Western civilization, and the establishment of a second campus in Sante Fe, New Mexico, in 1964.  

To this day, St. John’s remains a private Liberal Arts College which is open to everyone.

Although the sign at the entrance states, “St. John’s College, founded 1696 as King William’s School”, this pillar of higher education formally received its State of Maryland Collegiate Charter in 1784. From that point on, it has become known as St. John’s College in Annapolis, Maryland.

The Deep Rich History Of St. John’s College

Where Does St. John’s Rank In Terms Of Oldest US Colleges?

With its origin dating back to the late 17th century, St. John’s College remains the third oldest college in the United States. St John’s College Founded in 1696, places it only behind the College of William and Mary and Harvard University.

It does, however, hold the distinction of being the oldest Liberal Arts college in the USA.

What Is The Motto Of St. John’s College?

After becoming a formal academic institution, St. John’s adopted the Latin motto “Facio liberos ex liberis libris libraque” which in English means “I make free men from children by means of books and a balance”. This philosophy has stood the test of time, and to this day remains the backbone of all academic activities at the school. 

Does St. John’s College Have Any Major Milestones?

St. John’s has a long line of major historical events throughout its history with the following being some of the most significant:

  • 1696 – The original roots of St. John’s College, King William’s School was formed
  • 1784 – St. John’s College receives it Collegiate Charter from the State of Maryland
  • 1792 – First official curriculum created
  • 1814 – Francis Scott Key writes a poem which becomes the US National Anthem
  • 1937 – After facing financial disaster, the college is revived as a result of developing a new curriculum
  • 1951 – First all Women’s class is introduce to St. John’s
  • 1964 – A second campus in Sante Fe, New Mexico is inaugurated

St. John’s Traditions – Academic And Social

What Is St. John’s College Longest Standing Tradition?

The most recognizable tradition of St. John’s College is that the students are called “Johnnies”. It is not known when the term “Johnnies” originated, however, on campus it is part of the daily vocabulary.

Many traditions date back to its origin, and others developed as the college evolved. Some are related specifically to academic endeavours, while others are related to the social aspect of learning. 

What Are The Three Most Popular Traditions?

  1. Friday Night Lectures

This tradition has been a part of the College for as long back as most can remember, and is an integral part of the academic process at St. John’s. 

Every Friday evening at 8:00 PM sharp, the entire student population gathers in the main lecture theater called the Great Hall where they hear different viewpoints from leading scholars covering topics ranging from politics to religion.

  1. The Seminar

The Seminar was introduced in 1937 when the St. John’s curriculum was changed to focus on the study of Great Books Of Western Civilization. They form the basis of the curriculum and are a vital part of the learning process.

  1. Freshman Chorus

The Freshman Chorus is one of longest standing traditions at St. John’s Collegiate, and is mandatory for every freshman to participate. The Chorus serves to not only build a sense of community, but also instills a strong feeling of pride.

The belief at St. John’s, is that a comprehensive education entails much more than bookwork, study, and academic interaction. It must include social interaction, encouraging teamwork, bonding, and a competitive spirit. 

Famous Graduates Of St. John’s College

Who Is The Most Notable Graduate Of St. John’s College?

Francis Scott Key is the most famous graduate and was responsible for creating the poem “The Star-Spangled Banner” in 1814 which was converted into a song and became the National Anthem of the USA in 1929. 

Who Are The 10 Most Famous Graduates Of St. John’s College?

  • George Washington Parke – Author, playwright, and descendent of President George Washington
  • Jac Holzman – CEO and Founder of the Elektra Recording Studio
  • Reverdy Johnson – Famous Maryland defense attorney
  • John Mullan – Soldier and road builder responsible for developing the Pacific Northwest
  • Joseph J. Himmel – Catholic Priest and President of Gonzaga University
  • Michael Elias – Successful Hollywood film director and producer
  • Benjamin Sasse – Current sitting US Senator from Plainview, Nebraska
  • Charles Van Doren – US writer who held high positions in NBC Television and Britannica 
  • Glenn Yarbrough – Famous American singer and songwriter
  • Pamela Sklar – Renowned international psychiatrist and neuroscientist specializing in Genetics


With its formation in 1696, St. John’s College in Annapolis, Maryland is one of the oldest and most distinctive colleges in the United States. 

Specializing in the Liberal Arts it has intentionally kept its student body small in order to create a true community environment where students and faculty can build strong relationships. 

All disciplines including language, mathematics, science, and music, revolve around the study of “The Great Books of Western Civilization”. By studying these great thinkers word by word, phrase by phrase, and thought by thought, students are taught to understand exactly how all disciplines affect their daily lives and success in the real World.

Additionally, the belief at St. John’s is that a comprehensive education entails much more than bookwork, study, and academic interaction. It must include social interaction, encouraging teamwork, bonding, and a competitive spirit. As a result, inherent in the college are a multitude of non-academic activities that contribute to the overall moral and collegiate spirit.

Students, graduates, and faculty members unanimously feel that it is not only a privilege, but an honor to be part of this prestigious college.