Terrapin Yearbooks

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Did you know we’ve digitized our yearbooks? We have over 110 volumes of the yearbook available online, from our first yearbook in 1897 to the present. This record of student life has been called Reveille (1897-1920, 1925-1934), Terra Mariae (1921-1922), Us (1971-1972), and Terrapin (1935-1970, 1973-present). You can page through each book, search for names and events, or download your own PDF copy through this site.

Click on these yearbooks to see what student life was like in 1915, 1952, 1977, and 2007!

1915 Reveille     1952 Terrapin     1977 Terrapin     2007 Terrapin

If you’re looking for students who attended the college before 1897, make sure to check out our digitized course catalogs!

Haunted Maryland ghost tour

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Haunted marylandWe are very excited to announce that our haunted Maryland ghost tour is now LIVE — just in time for Halloween! A special thanks to the GIS staff in Facilities Management for handling the technical aspects of this project. The following link works for both desktop and mobile devices, though we hope you’ll take the time to walk around to the spots mentioned in the tour. We’d love to know whether you’ve had any of your own spooky experiences on campus. Happy haunting!  http://maps.umd.edu/tours/ghost/.

90th Anniversary of the M Club

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M Club

2013 marks the 90th anniversary of one of the oldest clubs in University of Maryland history and one of the oldest athletic letter-winners organizations in the United States. Dr. Harry Clifton “Curley” Byrd, Dr. William B. Kemp, George F. Pollock, H. Burton Shipley, Geary F. Eppley, Reginald V. Truitt, Burton Ford, and William G. Morris founded the M Club in April 1923 to focus on the role athletics played in the life of the campus and the development of the individual. With Byrd as president of the club and Kemp as chairman, the rest of the founding committee consisted of representatives of the six varsity sports on the campus at the time. The M Club originally consisted of current letter-winning student- athletes who promoted amateurism and fair play, hosted officials and guests at sporting events, and stressed appropriate spectator conduct. The Club held an annual banquet (see the program from the  second banquet in 1924 here: M Club Banquet Program), and membership fees were originally set at $1.00 per year.

The 1925 "M" Men

-The 1925 “M” Men

In recent history, the goals of the University of Maryland M Club have shifted. The club now focuses on alumni and emphasizes getting former Maryland athletes involved in and giving back to the Maryland athletic program of which they were once a part. M Club members are encouraged to promote both academic and athletic success for varsity teams, cultivate social contact and good sportsmanship among athletes, aid student athletes in making contributions to the school and community, generate funds for scholarships, awards and other programs, and, of course, publicize the proud tradition of Maryland sports. Through the M Club, former athletes are able to ensure that Maryland sports will always have a bright future. The M Club is very active and works to support 19 varsity teams on campus.

The organization was also a major supporter of the University Archives’ initiative to digitize the Terrapins’ historical football film from 1946 to 1989.  The M Club, along with the Maryland Gridiron Network and the Terrapin Club, provided the seed money to get this project off the ground in2010.  Reels of film digitized to date can be viewed in University AlbUM.

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The M Club was also responsible for forming the University of Maryland Athletic Hall of Fame in 1982. The Athletic Hall of Fame honors those student athletes, coaches, and administrators who have excelled in representing the values of the University of Maryland athletic program. Inductees are honored and initiated into the Athletic Hall of Fame as a part of the club’s annual banquet. Some legendary members of the Athletic Hall of Fame include Harry Clifton “Curley” Byrd, Geary Eppley, Jack Scarbath, Tom McMillen, Randy White, Gary Williams, Boomer Esiason and Juan Dixon. A complete list of members can be found here: Athletic Hall of Fame members.

The M Club will hold their 90th anniversary celebration this fall.

You can read more about the M Club at their website: http://www.themclub.org/

New MAC President

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Dr. James L. Bryan

Dr. James L. Bryan

We just discovered a president of the Maryland Agricultural College that we never knew we had!  Recently we worked with staff in University Communications and Marketing to update the short biographies of all the Maryland Agricultural College/University of Maryland presidents from 1859 to the present. In the course of this research, we found claims that James Bryan had been chosen as the president of MAC in 1887, but we had never heard of him before!  Some more digging confirmed the fact that Bryan had indeed been elected president by the MAC Board of Trustees, but he never served in the position.  He decided to keep his current job, County School Examiner and Treasurer of the County School Board in Dorchester County, Maryland, despite the prospect of an increase in salary.

You can read more about our previously unknown president at http://www.president.umd.edu/pastpres/bryan/.

UMD Archives receives official approval

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The University of Maryland Archives is proud to announce that we have received official approval as a local archives from the Maryland State Archives.  Deputy State Archivist Timothy Baker noted in his letter granting the approval that the UMD Archives exceeds the requirements specified in the Code of Maryland Regulations (COMAR) for a local archives operation.  Standards we had to meet dealt with such topics as staffing, accessibility to the public, environmental conditions for document storage, security, fire protection, and provision of guides to our holdings.

We are delighted to have this recognition and deeply appreciate the trust and confidence placed in our work on behalf of the University of Maryland community.

Approval Letter

Terrapin Tales hits 10,000 views!

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We’re extremely happy to announce that our Terrapin Tales blog just hit 10,000 all-time views this week, less than a year after starting on this platform. On August 20, 2012, we officially replaced our original blog, Archival Attractions, with this updated version on WordPress. Since then, we’ve written over 120 posts, garnering an average of 81 views per post, with visitors from 82 countries.

We are very grateful to our supporters for reading the stories posted on the blog. We hope that along the way you’ve learned something new about University of Maryland history and the work we do in the University Archives. Thank you all. Please continue reading, sharing, and commenting!

Testudo crowd-surfing, c. 1980s.

Testudo crowd-surfing, c. 1980s.

UMD Off the Beaten Path: Garden of Reflection and Remembrance

The labyrinth at the Garden of Reflection and Remembrance.

The labyrinth at the Garden of Reflection and Remembrance.

On a bustling campus in a busy metropolitan area, there is perhaps nothing more cherished than a moment of quiet contemplation. The Garden of Reflection and Remembrance, located just steps from McKeldin Mall in the shadow of the Memorial Chapel steeple, provides an ideal spot for members of the community to slow down their lives for a moment.

Begun with a grant from the Open Spaces Sacred Places Foundation in 2007, the Garden was designed by students from the Landscape Architecture program. Construction began in the spring of 2010, and the garden was officially opened in October of the same year.  It includes several “rooms” based around seating areas and water features, designed to encourage relaxation and reflection.

Fountain and bench located at the eastern entrance of the Garden of Reflection and Remembrance.

Fountain and bench located at the eastern entrance of the Garden of Reflection and Remembrance.

The centerpiece of the garden is its labyrinth, a single path which twists and turns from its entrance towards the center point.  The labyrinth is meant to provide visitors with a chance to meditate while moving, allowing them to focus on their thoughts as they make their way along the ever-changing path to the center and then back out again. Thyme planted along the pathway provides an aroma that makes the experience even more relaxing.

Two fountains mark the eastern and western entrances to the garden.  At the easternmost fountain sits one of two comfortable wooden benches in the garden.  Under each of these benches, visitors will find a journal to record their innermost thoughts and feelings.  In an age of Twitter and its 140 characters, these journals are filled with handwritten personal stories of love and loss, as well as poems, and students’ hopes and fears for their futures.

The Garden of Reflection and Remembrance represents an invaluable addition to the University of Maryland, College Park campus.  A serene place, surrounded by the constantly changing beauty of nature, it is certainly worth stepping off the beaten path to visit.

Trailblazers: Congressman Parren J. Mitchell (part 2)

Parren Mitchell is sworn in by Baltimore Mayor Theodore McKeldin as Executive Director of the city's Community Action Agency, October 1965. (photograph from the Baltimore News American collection)

Parren Mitchell is sworn in by Baltimore Mayor Theodore McKeldin as Executive Director of the city’s Community Action Agency, October 1965. (photograph from the Baltimore News American Collection)

In part one, we looked at Parren Mitchell’s road to becoming the first African-American graduate student to take all of his classes on campus and receive a degree from the University of Maryland, College Park.  Mitchell’s graduation in 1952 was only the beginning for this legendary Marylander.

After graduation, Mitchell returned to Morgan State College as a sociology professor and assistant head of their Urban Studies Institute.  Mitchell also spent time teaching at Western Maryland College (now McDaniel College) and the University of Maryland School of Social Work in Baltimore, according to a 1971 interview with The Black Explosion, a newspaper published by the Black Student Union at the University of Maryland, College Park.

In the early 1960s, Mitchell began to move into public service.  He was named Executive Director of Maryland’s Human Relations Commission in 1963 and was selected by Mayor Theodore McKeldin to serve as Executive Director of the Baltimore Community Action Agency in 1965.

Parren Mitchell being interviewed by the editorial board of the Baltimore News American during his 1970 campaign. (photograph from the Baltimore News American Collection)

Parren Mitchell being interviewed by the editorial board of the Baltimore News American during his 1970 campaign. (photograph from the Baltimore News American Collection)

Mitchell made his first run for elected office in 1968 as a candidate for Maryland’s 7th District in the U.S. House of Representatives.  He lost that election by approximately 5,000 votes, but his heightened profile in the community following that race helped him win the seat two years later.  In January 1971, Parren Mitchell was sworn in and became Maryland’s first African-American member of Congress.

Congressman Mitchell served the 7th District for 15 years and rose to the leadership position of House-at-Large Whip.  A founding member of the Congressional Black Caucus, Mitchell focused much of his time in office on ensuring that minority business owners had equal access to economic opportunity.  He was known for his strong stance against the war in Vietnam and was one of the first to call for President Nixon’s resignation during the Watergate scandal.  As awareness of the South African government’s apartheid policies grew, Congressman Mitchell also pressed for economic sanctions against that country.

In 1986, Mitchell decided not to seek re-election and instead chose to run for Lieutenant Governor back home in Maryland.  He lost that race but remained in public service, founding the Minority Business Enterprise Legal Defense and Education Fund to continue his work on behalf of minority business owners.  Congressman Mitchell passed away on May 28, 2007.

Parren Mitchell and others protesting South Africa's apartheid policies outside of the country's embassy in Washington, D.C.

Parren Mitchell and others protesting South Africa’s apartheid policies outside of the country’s embassy in Washington, D.C., February 1985. (Photograph from the Baltimore News American Collection)

More than a half-century after his graduation, Congressman Mitchell’s name lives on here at College Park.  He was elected into the Alumni Hall of Fame in 1995.  In 1996, The Black Alumni Network established the Parren Mitchell Baltimore Incentive Awards Endowment, which provides scholarships to students from nine of Baltimore City’s high schools to attend the University of Maryland.  In 2008, Governor O’Malley signed a law establishing the Parren J Mitchell Scholarships, which are awarded yearly to ten students who agree to go into public service after they graduate from a Maryland college or university.

Congressman Parren J. Mitchell left an indelible mark on the University of Maryland, the state and the country.  We are proud to call this trailblazing Terp one of our own.

On April 29, 2014, the Critical Race Initiative of the Department of Sociology will be hosting “A Critical Race Symposium on the Legacy of Congressman Parren Mitchell.” Find out more and RSVP for the event

Sources:

http://history.house.gov/People/Detail?id=18367

http://msa.maryland.gov/megafile/msa/speccol/sc3500/sc3520/002000/002099/html/2099bio.html

http://www.thehistorymakers.com/biography/hon-parren-j-mitchell-38

Photographs from the Baltimore News American Collection: http://www.lib.umd.edu/special/collections/maryland/newsphoto

Just How Dirty is Testudo’s Nose?

Tell us if this situation sounds familiar. You find yourself walking past the famed Testudo statue in front of McKeldin Library and really want to give his nose a solid rub for good luck. The only problem is that you don’t know how many dirty, germ-infested hands have touched that same exact surface just moments before. Such a scenario could dissuade anyone, even the most loyal of Testudo lovers, from giving the 80-year-old statue a rub for good luck.

You have no need to worry, though, because it turns out that Testudo’s nose is much cleaner than you may think. Copper and its alloys, including bronze, are anti-microbial surfaces, which in short means that the surface kills bacteria, yeasts, and viruses on contact. This discovery is nothing new or ground-breaking. In fact, early human civilizations, dating back to 2000 B.C., used copper as a means to better sterilize their drinking water. Recently though, copper and its alloys have been put to use in public places in an effort to prevent the spread of bacteria and germs transferred on frequently touched surfaces.

Rubbing Testudo's nose is an easy way to pick up some luck.

Rubbing Testudo’s nose is an easy way to pick up some luck.

So the next time you pass up the coveted opportunity to give Testudo’s nose a rub for good luck, remember that he is killing more bacteria and germs than he is actually spreading. Chances are his nose is much cleaner than a lot of other surfaces we have no problem touching every day. No need to fear the turtle.

Something Worth Playing For

Maryland’s decision to move to the Big Ten Conference has raised a multitude of questions since the switch was announced in late 2012. While many have bemoaned losing the traditions the Terps will leave behind in the ACC, we thought it would be fun to look at the opportunities Maryland has for new traditions to develop in the Big Ten. One of the chances being discussed, of course, is the formation of a new football rivalry, a real rivalry. Maryland hasn’t had a true conference rival since the days of playing Virginia with none other than the Tydings Trophy on the line. Maryland and Virginia played for the Tydings Trophy from the 1920s until 1945, when the series between the two schools went on hiatus until 1957. There was talk of reviving the trophy in recent years, but Virginia backed out, citing scheduling concerns.

Just two of the Tydings Trophies we have here in the archives.

Just two of the Tydings Trophies we have here in the archives.

Aside from being a material award, one could argue that rivalry trophies bring a little something extra to the game, something to play for and take pride in. The Big Ten already has a plethora of rivalry trophies that are grounded in many years of history. Some of them include: Minnesota vs. Wisconsin – Paul Bunyan’s Axe Michigan vs. Minnesota – The Little Brown Jug Indiana vs. Purdue – The Old Oaken Bucket Iowa vs. Minnesota – Floyd of Rosedale Illinois vs. Northwestern – The Land of Lincoln Trophy Michigan vs. Michigan State – The Paul Bunyan Trophy

It’s only fair to wonder where Maryland will fit in as one of the newest members of the conference. Rivalries tend to develop themselves over the years, and only time will tell which match-ups we will be circling on our calendars. So we want to ask you–Who do you think will be Maryland’s new rival heading into the Big Ten? What trophy would they play for, and what would it look like?

A Visit From the Hometown Heroes

April 12th marks the 32nd anniversary of an historic contest between the Maryland Terrapins baseball team and their hometown heroes, the Baltimore Orioles. On a bright, clear, sunny afternoon in College Park, the Terps took on the O’s in an early season exhibition matchup, a rare occurrence especially in this day of multi-million dollar salaries that come with Major League Baseball’s superstar persona. Four thousand-plus fans packed the stands at Shipley Field, and students looked on from their high rise dorm room windows to watch the big leaguers. Testudo even had the temerity to take on the Oriole bird in a mock fight. It would turn out to be a day to remember for all.

1982 Terps Baseball vs Orioles

(click to enlarge image)

The team the Terps faced that day was not just any Baltimore Orioles squad. Part of the “Glory Years” of Baltimore baseball, they were coached by Hall of Fame manager Earl Weaver, and their roster featured Hall of Famers Eddie Murray, Cal Ripken Jr., and Jim Palmer. The previous two seasons, they had just missed making the playoffs, and the following year, in 1983, the Orioles would win their third World Series Championship. Despite the challenge, the Terps felt they could hold their own against their heroes. Head Coach Jack Jackson, in his 22nd season with the Terps, had helped them build a 33-game home winning streak. In addition, Maryland’s offensive firepower the previous season either tied or set single-season school records in 19 categories, including an ACC record for the highest team batting average (.329). The Terps also featured a strong and deep pitching rotation, headlined by Robert Payne with his astonishing 0.84 ERA.

Both coaches had plenty of remarks before the game. “I don’t think our guys will take it that seriously,” admitted Weaver, “It’s just a work-out and a chance to get some swings. You won’t see any of our guys running into fences today.” Terps coach Jack Jackson joked, “If we win, we’ll count it, but if we lose, we’ll say it was just an exhibition and keep our string alive.” Weaver also added, “As long as we get a decent day and some good batting practice, it’s worthwhile.” It turned out the Orioles would get plenty of both.

1982 Terps Baseball vs Orioles-small-outfield

(click to enlarge)

Payne started the game for the Terps, and the Orioles were slated to pitch two farm team hurlers whom they brought up earlier in the week. Payne struggled against the big league sluggers and was pulled early, but sophomore lefthanded reliever Mike Romanovsky had a most impressive day for the Terps. Romanovsky went four innings, allowing only two hits and a run. At one point, he faced nine straight batters without giving up a hit. It wasn’t enough to hold off the Orioles though; they teed off on the Terps for thirteen hits, five of them home runs. The O’s easily won the matchup by a score of 12-6.

More important than the score of this game were the lessons learned and the memories made, and that was all that mattered in the end. Merely having the chance to play on the same field as the Orioles was more than enough glory for the young Terps, a moment that they would remember for the rest of their lives. After the game, right fielder Steve Johnson tried to put his emotions into words saying, “I have never been this high in my life. I mean we just played the Baltimore Orioles, maybe I’ll come down from it sometime tonight.” Second baseman Bobby Zavarick exclaimed, “This is something I’ll tell my grandchildren about.” The most satisfying feeling, however, may have belonged to Mike Romanovsky, who struck out pinch-hitting specialist Terry Crowley looking at a fastball on the outside corner, “I loved it, I really did. Especially looking. Next time I see him on TV I can say, ‘I got that guy’.”

Pre-1920 graduates from UM

Often we receive queries from individuals trying to trace ancestors who attended the University of Maryland prior to 1920, when the Maryland General Assembly merged the College Park and Baltimore campuses of the UM system into the beginnings of what is today’s 13-campus network.  Since the College Park campus was originally known as the Maryland Agricultural College, then the Maryland State College of Agriculture, and not the University of Maryland until the merger, we had to refer these questions to the archivist on our sister campus to the north.  Now the Special Collections of the Health Sciences and Human Services Library has mounted an Alumni Database that will help track early UM graduates and verify their name, year of graduation, and school.

Data from the 1840s to the 1980s has been mounted thus far.  Schools included are:

Baltimore College of Dental Surgery, Baltimore Medical College Dental Department, Maryland Dental College, and University of Maryland Dental Department

Baltimore Medical College, College of Physicians and Surgeons of Baltimore, University of Maryland School of Medicine

University Hospital Training School for Nurses

The database is available at: http://www.hshsl.umaryland.edu/resources/historical/alumni.cfm

More detailed information for entries in the database or verification of names not yet entered may be obtained by contacting Richard Behles, the Historical Librarian on the Baltimore campus, at rbehles@hshsl.umaryland.edu.

Rich provided an additional tip about searching the database on November 30, 2011, noting that many of the graduates’ names are listed using only initials for their first and middle names.  If a search for an individual’s full name is not successful, repeat the search using the first initial and last name.


Mable Hoffman and the Conquest of the Crock-Pot

March 2010 marked the passing of university alumna Mable Hoffman.  In 1975, Mable created the first cookbook that dealt exclusively with the crock-pot, a popular new kitchen appliance but one without any books to guide users.  Called “Crockery Cookery,” it became an instant best seller, and one that is still in print today.

Mabel Hoffman & Crockery Cookery

Mable Hoffman & Crockery Cookery, c.1970s 

Ms. Hoffman started her career in the food industry at Maryland, where she graduated in June 1941 with a bachelor’s degree in home economics.  The University Archives has a wealth of materials about the program from that time, including university publications, departmental records, and photographs.  To learn more about her or the history of the home economics program, please contact us.

UMD Off the Beaten Path: “Huey”

You can probably go your whole career here on the College Park campus and never even notice it.

But on a spring day before the trees bloom, the afternoon sun might hit it just right and the yellow and red paint job will pop out at you. There, sitting next to the parking lot of the Manufacturing Building off of Regents Drive is…

A helicopter?

Is that a helicopter I see before me? Yes it is. (click for lager image)

Is that a helicopter I see before me? Yes it is. (click for larger image)

No, it’s not a mirage brought on by the warmer weather. It’s an actual helicopter. The Bell UH-1H “Huey” was donated by the Maryland Air National Guard in 1998 to the Department of Aerospace Engineering.

Also known as the Iroquois, these helicopters were put into service in the 1960′s and have been used ever since by militaries around the world for every type of mission, from rescues to special operations.

This Bell UH-1H "Huey" is not far from the Comcast Center.

The Bell UH-1H “Huey” is not far from the Comcast Center. (click for larger image)

Our Huey is no longer operational, but still serves as a learning tool for the students of the Alfred Gessow Rotocraft Center. Students have painted “Huey” three times since it was donated, most recently in 2009. While it’s a little the worse for wear, “Huey” still serves as a shining example of timeless aerospace design.

Do you have a favorite UMD sight that not many people might know about? Leave a comment!

Thanks to Jennifer Figgins Rooks and Benjamin Berry from the Department of Aerospace Engineering for shedding some light on Huey!

Trailblazers: Congressman Parren J. Mitchell (part 1)

Protesting segregated education and teacher-training programs. Paul Henderson. MdHS, HEN.00.A2-161 

Parren Mitchell (far left) protests with others outside of Frederick Douglass High School in Baltimore, July 1948. Image from the Paul Henderson Collection at the Maryland Historical Society.

In our previous posts about integration at the University of Maryland (part 1, part 2), we briefly mentioned Congressman Parren J. Mitchell, who was the first African-American student to take graduate classes at the College Park campus. This two-part post will briefly tell the story of the man who went on to become Maryland’s first black member of Congress.

The Mitchell Building was named in honor of Parren Mitchell's brother, Clarence Mitchell, Jr. in 1988.

The Mitchell Building was named in honor of Parren Mitchell’s brother, Clarence Mitchell, Jr. in 1988. (click for larger version)

Parren Mitchell was part of a civil rights legacy in Baltimore. His older brother, Clarence Mitchell, Jr, for whom the Mitchell Building on the College Park campus is named, was the chief lobbyist in Washington for the NAACP for nearly 30 years and was so ubiquitous on Capitol Hill that he was affectionately known as “the 101st senator”.

Clarence’s wife, Juanita, was the first African-American woman admitted to the bar in Maryland and was a lifelong civil rights activist. Juanita’s mother, Dr. Lillie Mae Carroll-Jackson, was the president of the Baltimore-area NAACP from 1935 until 1970.  Given his surroundings, it was little wonder that Parren would go on to become a central figure in the civil rights movement.

After returning home from World War II with a Purple Heart, Parren Mitchell attended Morgan State University, where he received his bachelor’s in Sociology.  As he looked to continue his education at the master’s level, he was recruited to be part of a series of test cases brought by NAACP lead counsel Thurgood Marshall and University of Maryland School of Law alumnus Donald Murray. Mitchell was joined in this litigation by Esther McCready, who sought to enroll in the UMD School of Nursing at Baltimore, and Hiram Whittle, who wanted to enroll as an undergraduate in the College of Engineering at College Park.

The telegram sent by President Byrd to all Board of Regents members indicating his course of action in the Mitchell case.

The telegram sent by President Byrd to all Board of Regents members indicating his course of action in the Mitchell case. (click for larger version). Retrieved from Presidents Papers Accession 94-85, “State Law Office, 1951″. 

Almost immediately after Mitchell’s lawsuit was filed, university president Harry Clifton Byrd sent a telegram to the Board of Regents of the university saying that Mitchell was to be admitted, and that classes would be set up especially for him in Baltimore. Byrd appears to have believed that this would prevent the lawsuit from progressing while maintaining the university’s policy of segregation.  The Baltimore City Court saw it differently, and issued a Writ of Mandamus on October 6, 1950, compelling the university to admit Mitchell as a full student at the College Park campus.

Mitchell entered the university later that fall, to seemingly little fanfare. There is no record of any outward upheaval among the student body or administration. This did not mean that the campus welcomed Parren with open arms, however. In a 1994 interview with the Outlook newsletter, Mitchell remembered that

“I took the bus to College Park and walked up that long, long hill. No one smiled at me. No one talked to me. One time, I went to the cafeteria, a big cavernous room, and as I walked past each table, the students got quiet. It was uncomfortable.”

Parren Mitchell finished his master’s degree in Sociology, with honors, in 1952. His thesis, which you can still find today in the Maryland Room, is titled “Negro Family Aspiration-Levels in an Urban Area”.

Graduation day was only the beginning for Mitchell, as we’ll see in our next installment.

On Tuesday, April 29th at 3:30pm, The Department of Sociology’s Critical Race Initiative will be hosting a symposium to discuss the legacy of Parren Mitchell. Find out more

Maryland Women and the “Call To Farms” During WWII (Part 3)

In honor of Women’s History Month, Special Collections and University Archives presents a three-part series on the Women’s Land Army and women farmers during the Second World War and the contributions of the Maryland Extension Service in College Park to the war effort.

In addition to running Camp Mil-Bur, the University of Maryland also offered “short courses” – four-week classes in farming basics such as raising chickens – to teach women who had not been raised in a rural environment how to handle farm duties. UMD was the first university to contribute in this fashion, and a number of other colleges followed suit.

short course

The Maryland Extension Service in College Park, which ran the Emergency Farm Labor program for the state, published a report in 1948, “Farm Labor in Wartime,” detailing their success in the war effort: Maryland produced 40% more food than average and did it with 30% less labor. That success would not have been possible without the contributions of women. Nationally, more than 1.5 million non-farm women would work for the Women’s Land Army during the course of the war.

girls with baskets

The WLA shut down at the end of 1945, as did Camp Mil-Bur, but the Emergency Farm Labor program continued for two more years, as the military was still in the process of demobilizing, and the immediate aftermath of war in Europe left millions of people without enough food. Eventually, as with Rosie the Riveter, the Farmerettes went back to their old lives.

But the image of the farmer as the man tending his fields alone is changing. In April of 2013, the Department of Agriculture released a study of women farmers which showed that nearly 1 million women are now farm operators and that women account for 30% of American farmers. The number of women farmers in the U.S. has more than doubled since 1982 as local food movements and other environmental issues have drawn more and more women into farming in the United States. Globally the UN estimates that women produce more than 50% of our food. The Farmerettes were, perhaps, merely ahead of their time.