Maryland Goes Big Time: Hiring Our First Football Coach

In 1902, Maryland Agricultural College did something it had failed to do in ten years of playing collegiate football: it hired a coach.  Up until then, teams were coached and managed exclusively by the students, with entirely mixed results.  D. John Markey (pictured below) was a Frederick, Maryland businessman who had played football at Western Maryland College and was recruited to coach for the princely sum of $300 (approximately $8,000 today).  Once he accepted, Markey brought about changes that had an immediate impact, if not entirely on the scoreboard.

According to several published sources, Markey brought an emphasis on physical fitness and fundamentals that had been lacking in previous years.  According to Kings of American Football, a 1952 history of the Maryland football program, Markey “installed the first tackling dummy every seen there, and insisted his squad learn the fundamentals of tackling and blocking.”  Newspapers during the season remarked on the team’s improvement from previous years, and the student yearbook remarked on the improved student interest in the team, as well as its “first-class” management.

The 1903 M.A.C. football squad.  Coach Markey is at the far left in the black coat.

The 1903 M.A.C. football squad. Coach Markey is at the far left in the black coat and hat.

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Tracking Down Our First President

On September 18, University Archives staff members Anne Turkos, Jason Speck, and Amanda Hawk had the chance to spend the day walking in the footsteps of the first president of the Maryland Agricultural College, Benjamin Hallowell.

Hallowell portrait

The trio first visited the Sandy Spring Museum, close to Hallowell’s home, to examine documentation relating to Hallowell and his family that appears in the museum’s collections.  Museum archivist Marge Huang assembled a wide range of materials, including obituaries, records from the school the family ran in their home, Rockland, educational materials Hallowell created, correspondence, and various genealogical charts.  In one of the obituaries, Turkos, Speck, and Hawk discovered what might have been the primary cause for Benjamin Hallowell’s ill health that led him to resign from the presidency of the Maryland Agricultural College after only one month–he had been poisoned!!  One of the obituaries for Hallowell, who died in 1877 at the age of 78, states that “Some twenty years ago a druggist in Alexandria made a mistake in compounding a physician’s prescription and Prof. Hallowell swallowed a poisonous mixture that came near terminating his life. He never fully recovered from the effects of the poison…”  This information was a great surprise and a very exciting find! They also learned a great deal more about Hallowell’s career as an educator and his role in the founding of Swarthmore College.

Sandy Spring Museum

Sandy Spring Museum

Ms. Huang also assisted her fellow archivists in finding President Hallowell’s grave, in the Sandy Spring Friends Meeting House Cemetery, close to the sixth largest tulip poplar tree in the state of Maryland.

Turkos, Speck, and Hawk ended the day with a visit to Hallowell’s home, Rockland, now a private residence owned by two Terps!


It was terrific to learn a bit more about a very important figure in the history of the University of Maryland, and who knows, a road trip to Swarthmore, where many more of Hallowell’s papers are held may be in the University Archives’ future!

Jim and Jane Henson Commemorated at Homecoming 1990

Without Jim Henson, there would be no Muppets, no Fraggle Rock, and the magical world of Sesame Street would be quite different. As a pioneer in his industry, Henson’s unique style brought a brand new element to television. His accomplishments at the University of Maryland and beyond make him one of the university’s most distinguished alumni.

Following his death in May of 1990, the University of Maryland commemorated the life of Jim Henson during the Homecoming football game on October 13, 1990. Henson’s wife, Jane, accepted a painted drum head on his behalf and also served as the Homecoming grand marshal, an honor bestowed on her husband 11 years prior. 27,000 spectators were on-hand in Byrd Stadium to witness the event.

Jane Henson, William Kirwan, and Kermit the Frog

Jane Henson, William Kirwan, and Kermit the Frog, 1990.

The focus of that special weekend was reviving a little bit of Henson’s magic and remembering his best work. With the help of Jim Henson Productions, the event featured life sized versions of some of Henson’s most popular characters, including Kermit, Miss Piggy, and the Cookie Monster, dancing to familiar Sesame Street tunes.

Kermit and Miss Piggy

Kermit and Miss Piggy at the Henson Commemoration, 1990.

Mrs. Henson, who was delighted with the turnout and response to the event, explained, “The campus has always been very responsive to Jim and his work…They’ve always considered him an alumnus to be proud of.” When asked about her late husband’s legacy, Jane added, “He touched so many people’s lives that I think the real loss will be felt by his audiences.”

MacArthur Fellows

The University of Maryland is proud of its many MacArthur Fellows, including 2014 fellowship winner Dr. Pamela O. Long (Ph.D., History, 1979), whose award was announced on September 18. Dr. Long specializes in the history of science, and you can read her bio here.

Dr. Pamela Long

She joins a long line of other UMD MacArthur “Genius Grant” winners, including:

Ellendea Profter Teasley (Class of 1966),author, publisher, and translator of Russian literature into English–1989 MacArthur Fellow

Peter Miller, an assistant professor of history specializing in early modern intellectual European history–1998 MacArthur Fellow

Liz Lerman (Class of 1970) founder of the Dance Exchange in Takoma Park, MD, and a talented dancer, choreographer, and teacher of dance–2002 MacArthur Fellow

Karen Hesse (Class of 1975),author of numerous books for children and young adults who has won many prestigious national awards for her writing–2002 MacArthur Fellow

Naomi Ehrich Leonard (Ph.D., 1994) researcher studying submarines that gather information on environmental conditions beneath the ocean’s surface–2004 MacArthur Fellow

Kenneth Catania (Class of 1989, B.S. in Zoology) researcher studying star-nosed moles and the evolution of mammalian brains–2006 MacArthur Fellow

Ruth DeFries. professor of geogaphy, recognized for her work using satellite images of the earth’s surface to map the impact human society has on climate and biodiversity–2007 MacArthur Fellow

David Simon (Class of 1983), author, screenwriter, and producer best known for his contributions to the HBO show, The Wire, was named a MacArthur Fellow for his new television project, Treme, based in New Orleans in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina–2010 MacArthur Fellow

Ana Maria Rey (Ph.D. 2004), atomic physicist honored for her her work in optical lattice clocks; she also contributed to the construction of the most accurate atomic clock ever built–2013 MacArthur Fellow

MacArthur Fellows receive grants from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation to support their continued and enhanced creative work and to establish their optimal working and living conditions.


Terps Look for Some Respect with Rodney Dangerfield


Rodney Dangerfield wants YOU to support Maryland football. Photo Credit: On Wisconsin Magazine.

Rodney Dangerfield wants YOU to support Maryland football. Photo Credit: On Wisconsin Magazine.

In 1981, the Terrapins got no respect. As one reporter from the Washington Post put it, the football team was “so dull, you look up dull in the dictionary and there’s their team picture…the only pass they’ve thrown in three years, the girl slapped the quarterback.” Despite traveling to seven bowl games and having eight winning seasons in the previous nine years under Coach Jerry Claiborne, the Terps never received the same respect as other football powerhouses in the country.

Though Maryland basketball fared better than their fellow Terps on the gridiron, they still had to compete with Georgetown and Navy home games and a wide variety of other entertainment options in Washington, D.C., and Baltimore for ticket sales. The athletic department especially felt like they were missing out on potential fans in the Baltimore area. “There are almost 86,000 alumni members in the area that we’ve turned our backs on,” said one athletic department official.

The solution to Maryland’s ticket booth woes? Hiring the one person with even less respect than the Terps: comedian Rodney Dangerfield. Dangerfield, known for playing the obnoxious golfer Al Czervik in Caddyshack, was at the height of his career in the early 1980s, and the Athletic Department paid handsomely for Dangerfield’s fame, shelling out close to $40,000 for the star to film two commercials with Claiborne and basketball coach Lefty Driesell.

On July 14, 1981, Dangerfield arrived on campus and first made a visit to Claiborne in Byrd Stadium. Claiborne, a better coach than he was an actor, reportedly could only remember the lines to old Coke commercials he had done in the past, responding to Dangerfield’s pleas for respect with “Why don’t you have a Coke? I think I’ll have one myself…” After a few takes, the 30-second commercial was finally finished. Unfortunately, we can’t find any copies of the original commercial, but the Washington Post accounts of the filming include a brief transcript:

Dangerfield: “Hey Jerry, you and your guys, you get respect all over. How do you do it, eh? Because I don’t get any respect at all. My twin brother, he forgot my birthday.”

Claiborne, hefting a football: “Well Rodney, we get respect with seven bowls in eight seasons, national rankings, er…”

Dangerfield: “Jerry, move it along, will ya? I hope your guys run faster than you talk.”

Claiborne, plowing ahead : “And it’s a super season we got started.”

Dangerfield, to the camera: “Well, show some respect, Call today for your Terrapin football season tickets. (Tugging at his tie now.) Hey, Jerry, how about some free passes.”

Straight Arrow Jerry: “Nooo way.”


Looks like Dangerfield is getting some respect, and a few laughs, from Claiborne.

Looks like Dangerfield got some respect, and a few laughs, from Claiborne.

Next, Dangerfield made his way over to Cole Field House, where he was met by Driesell, who was ready to match wits with the comic. Changing out of the suit he wore at Byrd Stadium, Dangerfield arrived in over-sized gym shorts and a red Maryland basketball T-shirt, with a big red tie around his neck. Though the Athletic Department wrote the script for both performers, in the commercial, Dangerfield and Driesell added their own lines to make for a much funnier commercial. Again here’s the account from the Washington Post:

Driesell:  “We’re sold out of season tickets. But we got tickets to St. Peter’s, LIU, Ohio U., George Mason…”

Dangerfield: “Hey, don’t you ever stop for a comma? Hey, by the way, you need a new center. How about using me in the team?”

Driesell: “Sure. Have these back by game time.”

Driesell throws a bunch of towels at Dangerfield.

Dangerfield: “Very funny. And where do you get those haircuts with the hole in the middle?”

Commercial ends with Driesell stomping off camera.


According to a Diamondback reporter on the scene, when Dangerfield made his haircut joke, Driesell and the rest of the crowd watching laughed so hard that it ruined a few commercial takes!

Whether Dangerfield’s antics at Byrd Stadium and Cole Field House actually gained the Terps some respect and a boost in ticket sales is a little uncertain. That fall, when Terps football had its first losing season in ten years, attendance at home dropped at home by about 90,000 fans. 1981 would also be Claiborne’s last year for the Terps, as he departed to coach for Kentucky at the end of the season. Basketball didn’t fare much better that year either. After a 16-13 record (down from the previous season’s record of 21-10), total attendance was down in Cole Field House by close to 40,000 fans.


To see a copy of the Diamondback’s July 16, 1981 article on Dangerfield’s visit, click here:

Cole Goes Commercial

To see a list of attendance records at Byrd Stadium, click here:

To see a digitized copy of the 1981-1982 Men’s Basketball Media Guide, click here:


Do you know where a copy of Dangerfield’s commercials with Jerry Claiborne or Lefty Driesell are? Let us know!

Terps go Global!

For the next year, follow us on Twitter and travel around the world with the University of Maryland Amateur Radio Association! We’ve recently received a collection of materials from the group, and will be posting some of the highlights periodically over the next 12 months.

A QSL Card that the University of Maryland sent to radio operators at North Carolina State University to accompany their radio communication in 1961. Photo credit: North Carolina State University Libraries.

A QSL Card that the University of Maryland sent to radio operators at North Carolina State University to accompany their radio communication in 1961. Photo credit: North Carolina State University Libraries.

The Amateur Radio Association was founded at Maryland in 1933, 13 years after the first commercial radio broadcasts in the United States. Listening to the radio and using it to communicate over long distances were incredibly popular, and more than half of American homes owned radios in the early 1930s. “We were surprised that there was no radio club or station,” one founding member recalled, “so we decided to start one.” In the early years of radio, Americans often bought and modified their own sets instead of just using store-bought equipment. Using radio equipment borrowed from the Physics Department, students strung an antenna from Morrill Hall to the water tower next to it and soon after were receiving radio signals from around the area. The Amateur Radio Association adopted the call sign W3EAX, which is still in operation today.  W3EAX’s first official radio contact was with a radio operator in Washington, D.C., on January 5, 1934. To read one alumnus’ account of the early days of the club, click here.

Allegedly, the original antenna and metal used to secure it to the water tower were scrapped and sold to a Japanses company in the late 1930s. One alumnus lamented that the steel was "probably used against us in WWII."

Allegedly, the original antenna and metal used to secure it to the water tower were scrapped and sold to a Japanses company in the late 1930s. One alumnus lamented that the steel was “probably used against us in WWII.”

Since then, the club has made contact with other “ham operators” around the world and received recognition for broadcasting to every state in the U.S. and every continent on the globe. They have even broadcast radio signals to astronauts in space! The club was also often involved in local events in the area. When floods or other disasters occurred, the student radio operators at Maryland could quickly jump into action to help relay news and coordinate with emergency services. On two occasions, the club received commendations for quick and accurate broadcasting and assistance to local news stations during the Three Mile Island crisis in 1979 and the U.S. Invasion of Granada in 1983.

Today, you can see the Amateur Radio Association’s radio antenna on top of the South Campus Dining Hall, where the club still meets.

When their radios weren't working, W3EAX members will climb on top of their antenna and yell to each other.

When their radios aren’t working, students will climb on top of their antenna and yell to each other.


Each time the Amateur Radio Association made contact with another operator, it was customary to exchange “QSL” cards. These were small postcards with radio location and broadcast information that would let each operator know how far and how strong their signal carried it. Besides this technical information, operators could customize their QSL cards and often times included original artwork or symbols and drawings that highlighted local cultures. In the decades since the UMD Amateur Radio Association was founded, the group has accumulated a collection of hundreds of cards from around the world. We have chosen 50 of the oldest and most interesting of these cards and will be posting them on Twitter until next August! Check our Twitter @umdarchives to see QSL cards from long ago, far away, the far out!

There are certain smells…

There are certain smells in life that are instantly recognizable.  For librarians, archivists, and all lovers of books, there’s nothing like the aroma of a new book hot off the press or the treasure trove of a used bookstore.  Ever wondered about the origin of those special smells?  Now there’s a clear and clever answer to these musings. Blogger Andy Brunning, a chemistry teacher in the United Kingdom, has explained the chemical mysteries behind such things as red wine, chocolate, Kevlar, fireworks, and even the aroma of bacon. Now he tackles the special smells of old and new books in a new post on his blog “Compound Interest”

Bet your Kindle can’t do that!  Enjoy!

"Aroma of Books" from the "Compound Interest" blog

“Aroma of Books” from the “Compound Interest” blog

A Young Terrapin Chases the Golden Bear

On  October 16,  1971, legendary golfer Jack Nicklaus took to the University of Maryland golf course to compete in an exhibition along with fellow golfers Lee Elder, Deane Beman, and Rick Bendall. The contest paired Nicklaus with Maryland’s team captain, Bendall, against former Maryland All-American Beman and PGA pro Elder. Elder became the first African-American to compete in the Masters tournament in 1975, and his teammate Beman went on to become the PGA Tour’s second commissioner. Of the four, it was Nicklaus’s first time playing the par-71 course in College Park.

The event, which raised money for the M Club athlete scholarship fund, started off with some complications after Nicklaus swung so hard on his first tee shot that he split his pants below the zipper. After a short 20-minute break and a borrowed pair of pants later, the match swiftly resumed. Following a dominating performance by Nicklaus on the front nine, it was Bendall who carried the weight for the pair on the back nine of the better-ball match. With a three-under-par score of 68, Nicklaus finished the day with the best score, followed by Bendall and Elder who shot 69 and Beman who shot 72. Bendall later commented, “That man (Nicklaus) plays a different course than the rest of us. He’s amazing.”

Despite playing among professionals, including the number-one golfer on the PGA tour, it was the young Maryland captain, Bendall,who had the eye-catching performance of the exhibition. In front of a crowd of about 2,500, Bendall proved that he had what it took to play with golf’s best. Bendall, the NCAA’s reigning driving champion at the time, would go on to finish 8th in the 1971 U.S. Amateurs, earning a spot in the 1972 Masters field. Yet Bendall knew he didn’t have enough skill to be a full-time pro and chose to go to medical school. He eventually became a family physician in Virginia.

Mad About Majorettes

In 1938, the University of Maryland Student Band unveiled its coed drum majorettes for the first time.  This was another big first for the band, with women instrumentalists having joined in 1936.  Making their debut on the field prior to a football game against Western Maryland in October 1938, the ladies quickly found themselves at the center of controversy.

Drum Majorettes, 1951

Drum Majorettes, 1951

The Washington Times fanned the flames by mentioning the majorettes in several articles, according to Musical Ambassadors of Maryland: A Centennial Celebration, a 2009 book about the marching band’s history.  The Times focused on the ladies’ physical appearance, including their heights and weights, and commented archly that their first appearance “startled several thousand spectators last Saturday when they appeared at the head of the band…in resplendent uniforms consisting of brass-buttoned jackets, plumed hats, and black boots, but very little else.”

The press was not the only entity questioning the propriety of the majorettes and their outfits, with Dean of Women Adele Stamp actively involved in a hurried re-working of the majorettes’ uniforms.  Miss Stamp did not believe that majorettes should exist, and for a time she seems to have gotten her way.  The following year, 1939-1940, the only women in the band were instrumentalists.

Yet the issue would not die, as a October 1945 letter from Adele Stamp to UMD President Curley Byrd makes clear.  Stamp writes: “The question of drum majorettes has also come up again.  Can we not settle this once and for all?…You will recall the furore (sic) that was created the time they appeared at the Western Maryland game…I am opposed to drum majorettes.  I think they have no part in a college program and I know of no well-known or reputable state university that has them.  They savor too much of the Atlantic City parades and the bathing beauty contests.”

Drum Majorette Jean Weaver and Drum Major Mike Board, 1961.

Drum Majorette Jean Weaver and Drum Major Mike Board, 1961.

Whether the ladies’ roles as majorettes simply offended Stamp’s sensibilities, or whether she was concerned about their being exploited (or some combination thereof) we’ll probably never know.  But the majorettes did re-appear, and by the early 1950s they were around to stay.  Happily, they are no longer referred to as drum majorettes, but drum majors like their male counterparts, with the focus is solely on their leadership, and not on their outfits.

Memorabilia featured in TERP magazine

The most recent issue of TERP magazine includes not only the regular “Ask Anne” column of university history mysteries but also a special feature on some of the most interesting, unusual, and unexpected artifacts from Maryland’s history.  The feature, “Pieces of UMD,” highlights several objects, including former Dean of Men Geary Eppley’s football jersey, the cornerstone box from the cadet Barracks, destroyed in the 1912 fire, and the original Testudo.  Additional artifacts, such as a bottle of Curley Byrd whiskey and a gas mask carried by a student during the Vietnam War protests of the 1970s appear in the online version of the article.  Visit to see the whole array.

Gas Mask and Tear Gas Canister, c. 1970s.

Gas Mask and Tear Gas Canister, c. 1970s.