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 coining the phrase "political science," and 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. 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).
Herbert B. Adams died in 1901. Adams House, one of the undergraduate dormitories at Johns Hopkins University, is named in his honor.
Portions of this text were excepted from Appletons Encyclopedia