New Digital Material: Historic Campus Maps Added to AlbUM

In recent weeks, nearly 100 maps of campus from throughout our 160-year history have been added to the University Archives’ online image repository, University AlbUM.

Have you ever wanted to see how our lovely old campus has changed since 1856? Now you can! Even if you just want to see what might’ve changed during your own years as a student, or since your parents’ day, or whatever – it’s all here!

Let’s take a look at the two oldest maps. Trust us, it’ll blow your mind.


For some perspective, the “Maryland Agricultural Experiment Station” is the Rossborough Inn. It stands on the map exactly where it exists today. Campus was centered south of that location, right about where Morrill Hall and LeFrak stand today. Did you notice there were only 10 buildings on campus?


This map, dated circa 1916, features the same center area of campus. It explains which buildings burned in the Great Fire of 1912, and outlines the new building locations. That circle with all the lines coming from it? That’s the point of failure – yes, THAT point of failure between Shoemaker and LeFrak – and marks where the fire started. The mechanical engineering building and annex are now called Taliaferro Hall.


In the late 1930s-early 1940s, campus started to take its more familiar shape. This map, dated 1941, is the first time we see the full extent and beauty of what would come to be known as McKeldin Mall. Originally the mall extended from Main Administration all the way up to Anne Arundel Hall. The Armory still isn’t in the right place yet, but we’re getting closer!

Check out the slideshow of other fun campus maps below. If you’re interested in seeing them all, head over to University AlbUM! Feel free to look around, and see what else we have while you’re there. (We’ve got some awesome old football film online too!)

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A Nostalgic Walk through McKeldin Library

Testudo checking out books at McKeldin Library, c.2003.

Can you remember the last time you checked out a book from McKeldin Library?  Like the red stamps on your call slip, each trip to McKeldin marks a moment in time. As a campus institution, McKeldin Library witnesses the individual growth of so many Terps in one way or another.

Most of us come to the library out of necessity: cramming for finals together on sleepless nights or grabbing that quick coffee minutes before lecture. In the rush of our busy lives as students and educators, how often do we connect these moments to our university’s broader legacy?

McKeldin Library service desk, c. March 1958.

The University officially dedicated McKeldin Library 58 years ago today. In celebration of this formative moment, we invite you to turn the pages of the building’s history in a nostalgic look at its origins.  As you flip through the slideshow below and the official dedication program, we encourage you to think about how these spaces have grown into your own vision of McKeldin Library. Enjoy!


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Testudo dedication 1933

UMD123: 37

37 is for the number of sections on (the original) Testudo’s shell

sorority testudo
(I hope I brought enough flowers…)

Testudo, we all know him. Whether as the mascot who tirelessly cheers our sports teams to victory, or the subject of statues and artwork throughout the campus and the College Park area, or maybe even as  the dapper guy on the right asking out three sorority sisters at once, he is a constant presence in our lives at the University of Maryland. But did you know that the University Archives at Hornbake Library has the preserved remains of the real-life diamondback terrapin who served as the model for the Testudo statues, like the one in front of McKeldin? This treasure is the subject of today’s post!

HCByrd at desk
Harry Clifton Byrd in the President’s Office, ca. 1945-1953.

Our story begins in January 1933, when Harry Clifton “Curley” Byrd, then an assistant to University President Raymond A. Pearson, wrote a letter to the Holland Sea Food Company in Crisfield, Maryland, his hometown. Byrd instructs Mr. Holland to send:

“one big diamondback terrapin of Maryland variety, and not one of those that come from North Carolina. I want it to use as a model for a sculpture.”

The impetus behind acquiring this turtle originated with the Senior Class of 1933, which wished to leave behind a terrapin statue as a class gift. Consequently Dr. Byrd purchased “Archbishop,” aka “Archie,” (soon to be re-christened Testudo) and sent him on to Providence, Rhode Island, to be modeled in bronze by the Gorham Manufacturing Company under the direct supervision of Maryland Agricultural College Class of 1904 alum — and former quarterback — Edmund C. Mayo. “Archbishop” traveled overnight on the train in the company of Senior Class President Ralph Williams, who was also responsible for bringing “Archie” back alive to participate in the statue’s dedication.

Mayo 1906
2nd Lieut. Edmund C. Mayo from 1904 Reveille

According to the May 27, 1933, issue of the Old Line student magazine, Mr. Mayo, now president of Gorham Manufacturing, produced the statue at cost, after Aristide Cianifarani made a model of the live terrapin in clay, based on designs by Joseph Himmelheber. The base of the statue was a separate gift from the Student Government Association, and was likewise produced at cost by Bunt Watkins based on designs by Major Howard Cutler, who had previously designed Ritchie Coliseum, where the statue was to reside.

As to the reasoning behind the gift-giving, the unsigned article continues:

“The memorial has been erected for two purposes. First, it will perpetuate the symbol that the University has adopted, and second, it is to serve as an award to the class winning the annual Freshman-Sophomore struggle. The name of each victorious class is to be engraved each year on a bronze plaque on the base of the memorial, for ten years. After that, bronze plates will be placed around the top of the base, to perpetuate the conquering classes in name at least.

The bronze Terrapin is five feet long, twenty inches high and three feet wide. The original, who measures ten inches, will help unveil his own image on June 2.”

Testudo dedication 1933_2
University President Raymond Pearson shakes hands with Ralph Williams, president of the senior class, at the dedication of the Testudo statue in front of Ritchie Coliseum on June 2, 1933. Also pictured at left is assistant to the president, Harry C. Byrd.

On the day of the big reveal, “Archie” was again called into service. As reported by the Diamondback, “with a string attached to the cloth covering the bronze image and tied about his neck, he ambled off at the precise moment and unveiled his image.”

Unfortunately, the strain of his duties and a particularly hot summer proved too much for Testudo née Archbishop, and he died shortly thereafter. Again, the Diamondback reported, “Dr. R.V. Truitt, head of the Zoology Department, has kept ‘Archie’s’ remains in a state of preservation and now the S.G.A. has essayed to finance the mounting of the terrapin so that he may repose in the Coliseum to arrest the curious gaze of future generations of Maryland students.”

“Archbishop” no longer lives at Ritchie Coliseum, but instead enjoys a quieter after-life, preserved in a humidity-controlled case in a vault in the University Archives at Hornbake Library.

Real Testudo head on
The “real deal” housed in the University Archives at Hornbake Library

Many classes that tour the Archives and all visitors to Hornbake on Maryland Day have the chance to count the number of sections on his shell and take selfies with the university’s most famous diamondback terrapin! The campus community is forever grateful for his brave sacrifice. Happy Maryland Day, everyone! Don’t forget to stop by Hornbake and visit the real Testudo!

This is a post in our new series on Terrapin Tales called UMD123! Similar to our “ABC’s of UMD” series last semester, posts in this series will take a look at the university’s history “by the numbers.” New posts will come out twice a month, on Wednesdays, throughout the semester; search “UMD123” or check out Twitter #UMD123to see the rest. If you want to learn more about campus history, you can also visit our encyclopedia University of Maryland A to Z: MAC to Millennium for more UMD facts.


JFK’s Challenge to UMD Students

Uncle Sam Says - jfk wants you to get involved in politics

On March 14th, we left a teaser for you about a U.S. Senator from Massachusetts who delivered the 1958 convocation address. We hope you were able to guess the name of this illustrious campus visitor: none other than John F. Kennedy! In the spirit of primary season, we thought we would share Kennedy’s message leading up to the primaries for the 1960 election.

First of all, The Diamondback reported that Kennedy claimed to his audience of 5,500 at Ritchie Coliseum on April 28, 1958, that “he has no plans to enter the Maryland primaries, or any other primary.” Ironically, “[h]e stated that he is not to be considered a candidate for the presidency.”

Instead, Kennedy specifically directed his message to the students in the audience. He encouraged them to apply their talents to political life. He described politics as “a most neglected and abused profession” and stressed that it was the duty of the American people to commit their talents to solving world crises. “Every man sent out from a university today should be a man of his nation,” he claimed, in reference to concerns about the loyalty of college students in the midst of the Red Scare.

Applause for JFK at convocation 1958
Kennedy delivered his commencement speech 58 years ago this Thursday. #tbt

Kennedy, who did not officially announce his presidential campaign until 1960, returned to the Ritchie Coliseum one year after his convocation address. On May 17, 1959, the University of Maryland presented Kennedy with a stuffed Terrapin in gratitude for his return visit.

JFK with stuffed Terrapin 1959

The Diamondback’s reporting on famous visitors to campus, including these two historic visits by a future president, is essential to the history of the University of Maryland. As the university’s primary student newspaper, The Diamondback provides a critical student voice. For this reason, the University Archives is digitizing the entire run of the newspaper; it is currently on microfilm in the Special Collections and University Archives. Thanks to generous donors and our successful Launch UMD campaign, The Diamondback will be online and searchable in 2016.

In the meantime, keep checking our blog every other Monday for updates from graduate student assistant Jen Wachtel, who is compiling the metadata for this digitization project. This post is the seventh in a series; follow the #digiDBK hashtag on Twitter and check the DigiDBK tag on Terrapin Tales for updates and previous posts.

UMD123: 13

While many people consider the number 13 to be unlucky, in this case, it was a pretty fortuitous number for one UMD track star…

Thirteen stands for the 13-second barrier broken by Renaldo “Skeets” Nehemiah in the 110 meter hurdles, setting a world record in 1981. 

Nehemiah color

Widely considered the greatest high hurdler in the world during his collegiate years (1977-1981), Nehemiah broke numerous records in both indoor and outdoor hurdling events.

Skeets was a star even before arriving at UMD, setting New Jersey State high school records in hurdles, long jump, and short-distance running events. During his freshman year at Maryland, he broke the 60 yard high hurdles world record at the Millrose Games in New York (7.07 seconds). Sophomore year, he would break his own record in the 60 yard event (7.04) on home turf in Cole Field House.

Nehemiah signedNehemiah’s success grew in 1979. He set two world records in two weeks for the 110 meter hurdles, first a 13.16 second record at the Jenner Invitational in California, then a 13.00 race at the UCLA Invitation. He broke seven indoor hurdles records during the season. This set him up for international wins over the summer, including a gold medal at the 1979 Pan-American Games and a gold at the IAAF World Cup.

In 1980, Nehemiah’s best opportunity to win an Olympic gold medal vanished when the U.S. boycotted the Summer Olympics in Moscow. He won the 110 meter hurdles event at the U.S. Olympic Trials with a time well above his standing world record. Without the promise of Olympic competition, however, the trials felt like an ordinary track meet.

Then came the most significant world record of his track career.

In August of 1981 after graduating from the University of Maryland, Nehemiah participated in Weltklasse Zurich, an annual invitation-only international track and field event for world-class athletes. Competing in the 110 meter hurdles against his college rival, Greg Foster of UCLA, Nehemiah held off the rest of the field and bested his own world record of 13.00 seconds with a time of 12.93  — becoming the first hurdler to run the event at a sub-13 second pace.

[This record lasted for eight years, until another American hurdler – two-time gold medalist Roger Kingdom – beat Nehemiah’s time at the Weltklasse Zurich meet in 1989. The current world record for the 110 meter hurdles is 12.80 seconds, set by Aries Merritt (the 2012 Olympics gold medalist) in Brussels on September 7, 2012.]

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After such a highly-decorated track career, Nehemiah took on a new athletic challenge. He joined the San Francisco 49ers and played three years of football as a wide receiver. Skeets returned to track in 1985 and was again ranked among the top 10 hurdlers in the world. Only 8 people have topped Nehemiah’s sub-13-second 110 meter hurdle record since he set the mark in 1981. We’re certainly proud to call him a Terp!

This post is part of our new series on Terrapin Tales called UMD123! Similar to our “ABC’s of UMD” series last semester, posts in this series will take a look at the university’s history “by the numbers.” New posts will come out twice a month, on Wednesdays, throughout the semester; search “UMD123” or check out Twitter #UMD123 to see the rest. If you want to learn more about campus history, you can also visit our encyclopedia University of Maryland A to Z: MAC to Millennium for more UMD facts.


Election Memorabilia on Campus

Primary season is in full gear as we approach the November general election! Do you collect campaign buttons or posters? How about hats with your candidate’s face on the top? As you keep abreast of the twist and turns of this year’s campaigns, take a look at the memorabilia that McKeldin Library displayed ahead of the 1968 election. That year, University graduate student Dale E. Wagner’s collection traveled to the Democratic and Republican conventions before making its way back to McKeldin Library.

Photo of Dale E. Wagner with his memorabilia by Howard Lalos

The Diamondback reported that Wagner’s buttons, ribbons, posters, and mementos dated back to the election of 1840 (William Henry Harrison vs. Martin Van Buren). McKeldin Library’s exhibit also featured recordings of famous speeches by presidents such as Teddy Roosevelt, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Harry Truman, and John F. Kennedy. As the article notes, the humorous, often satirical 1968 campaign buttons quickly drew the attention of “the non-history major.” What are some of your favorites from the 1968 campaign (see below)?



Mayor Daley
The most controversial item: Article author Tom Basham writes that the average reaction to the We Love Mayor Daley (former Democratic mayor of Chicago) sign is “What the hell is that thing doing in there?” Photo by Howard Lalos.

The Diamondback is the university’s primary student newspaper and records the voice of the student body. The University Archives has embarked on a digitization project to make articles like this one (see below) accessible online for future enjoyment and research. Thanks to generous donations and a successful Launch UMD initiative, the University Archives is on track to make all of these articles available and searchable in 2016. This post is the sixth in a series by graduate student assistant Jen Wachtel is collecting data for the project. Check out the Twitter hashtag #digiDBK or the DigiDBK tag on the blog for previous posts. Don’t forget to check out the current University Archives display honoring the 70th anniversary of Gymkana on the first floor of McKeldin Library by the elevator and in the Portico Lounge on the second floor!



UMD123: 30

Thirty could be a lot of things at Maryland.

It could be the number of IFC fraternities currently on campus–but that’s 25.

It could be the number of food locations on campus–but that’s 39.

It could even be the insane number of credits you took this semester (it isn’t, but we know it feels like it.  That said, what were you thinking???)

Even Honey Boo Boo knows 21 credits was a bad idea.

No, 30 represents the number of days that Benjamin Hallowell, our first president, actually served in the job before resigning, all the way back in 1859.

Poor Benjamin Hallowell. Maryland’s first president, and perhaps its first dropout.

To be fair, Dr. Hallowell, a noted educator and abolitionist, was not initially aware that he had been chosen to be the first president of the Maryland Agricultural College.  The trustees apparently assumed he would take the position, as he had been advising them on matters relating to the college, so they went a step further and announced that he was the president at the college’s opening ceremonies on October 6, 1859, as well as acknowledging that Hallowell hadn’t been informed yet.

But wait!  There’s more.

Hallowell was soon told of his election and agreed to serve, but he was not prepared for the condition of the college when he arrived.  According to newspaper coverage of the college’s opening, there was still a great deal to do.  Landscaping remained unfinished, and the college’s barracks, which also served as chapel, classrooms, kitchen, dining hall, etc., was not complete. In fact, construction was so delayed on the Barracks that only one-third of the building was erected before it was destroyed by fire in 1912.


Only half the faculty had been appointed, and those professors who were on-site did almost nothing until Hallowell arrived to assume command–six weeks after the college opened.

No Jedi Master required.

As he later recorded in his autobiography, upon arriving, Hallowell observed that the faculty “had apparently been waiting for me…to organize the college…six weeks that had elapsed without regular order or government…in the earnest effort that I made to effect a proper organization, and secure a healthy order and discipline, my health gave way in about a month.”

Hallowell had for some time been suffering the ill effects of a prescription that had been mixed incorrectly and which had almost killed him.  Perhaps fearing that the Maryland Agricultural College would finish what the pharmacist had started, he “resigned the Presidency unconditionally.”  After a period of rest, he resumed his teaching and scientific research, until after another period of declining health, he passed away on September 7, 1877.

Hallowell’s brief tenure at the helm of the college led to a rapid succession of presidents, 15 more leaders over the next 33 years, until Richard Silvester offered a bit more stability. Sylvester served the college from 1892 to 1912.

This post is part of our new series on Terrapin Tales called UMD123! Similar to our “ABC’s of UMD” series last semester, posts in this series will take a look at the university’s history “by the numbers.” New posts will come out twice a month, on Wednesdays, throughout the semester; search “UMD123” or check out Twitter #UMD123 to see the rest. If you want to learn more about campus history, you can also visit our encyclopedia University of Maryland A to Z: MAC to Millennium for more UMD facts.

Musical Showdown

Duke Ellington gif
Duke Ellington with his band. Source

Ritchie Coliseum is a well-known fixture on our campus (see University of Maryland A to Z under letter R). We know the coliseum as one of the many campus venues for recreation and wellness and as the home of our men’s basketball team from 1932 to 1955 –- but it has also hosted historic campus performances! Imagine in 1956 one of the world’s most famous jazz musicians, Duke Ellington, bringing the “Big Band” style of music to the University of Maryland in a spectacular showdown. For the fall 1956 season opener, Ritchie Coliseum hosted a Jazz vs. Classics Pop Concert. As reported by The Diamondback, the cost to students to witness this historic concert was only $1 (that’s just $8.72 today with inflation)!

Duke Ellington
Announcement of the Ellington performance at Ritchie Coliseum, October 25, 1956

Duke Ellington is known for elevating the perception of jazz music to spectacular heights. He posthumously earned a 1999 Pulitzer Prize for music “in recognition of his musical genius, which evoked aesthetically the principles of democracy through the medium of jazz and thus made an indelible contribution to art and culture.” [1] In October 1956, when he came to campus, Ellington was in the midst of a career-making world tour. Only a few months prior to his campus visit, he had performed at the Newport Jazz Festival – an annual music festival held in Newport, Rhode Island – in one of the festival’s most historic performances. You can listen to recordings from that 1956 festival performance via the Internet Archive.

Duke Ellington’s campus performance is just one of the many important and interesting records of campus history found in The Diamondback. In order to facilitate online access to the entire run of The Diamondback, from 1910 to the present, the University Archives is in the process of digitizing the student newspaper from microfilm. Thanks to a successful Launch UMD campaign, we can look forward to accessing these newspapers online in 2016! This post is the fifth in a series about the Diamondback Digitization project written by graduate assistant Jen Wachtel. Check the Twitter hashtag #digiDBK or the DigiDBK tag on the Terrapin Tales blog for previous updates.

If you love political trivia, stay tuned for the next post!

[1] http://www.pulitzer.org/prize-winners-by-year/1999


UMD123: 15,148

This is a post in our new series on Terrapin Tales called UMD123! Similar to our “ABC’s of UMD” series last semester, posts in this series will take a look at the university’s history “by the numbers.” New posts will come out twice a month, on Wednesdays, throughout the semester; search “UMD123” or check out Twitter #UMD123 to see the rest. If you want to learn more about campus history, you can also visit our encyclopedia University of Maryland A to Z: MAC to Millennium for more UMD facts.

So… 15,148 what? Your first thought was “the number of undergraduates currently enrolled,” wasn’t it? Nope! That number is even higher. What about the number of parking spaces? Pft, if only.

If you remember back to last semester’s series on the ABCs of UMD, we talked about the Willow Oaks on campus. This number is related. There are (really, truly) 15,148 “botanical assets” on our beautiful campus, including trees, shrubs, herbs, and other plants. In fact, there’s so much plant life that our campus became the UMD Arboretum & Botanical Garden in 2008.

Plant Life in the Maryland Agricultural College
Our foundation as the Maryland Agricultural College in 1856 and our designation as a Land Grant university in 1865 speak to our university’s long-standing dedication to agriculture and plant life. Our founder, Charles Benedict Calvert, considered botany as one of several important studies which would play a part in the students’ “scientific and practical agriculture” education, when he outlined his vision for the college in a letter dated September 29, 1858, to businessman James C. Nicholson of Baltimore. The growing of fruits and vegetables was also a crucial part of the early curriculum at the MAC. Within five years, the horticulture department was described as teaching “practically all the nicer and finer operations of gardening, which do not generally receive much attention on the farms.” President William H. Parker, our 12th president, noted in 1877 that the college had 12 acres dedicated to “garden stuff.”

Cadets planting tree on Arbor Day

Cadets often planted trees for Arbor Day and were required to work the fields on campus multiple times a week.

Development of Horticulture Curriculum at Maryland
As the years passed, horticulture became even more central to the developing educational programs of the university. The first degree in Horticulture was awarded by the Maryland Agricultural College in 1907 to Guy W. Firor. The first master’s and doctoral degrees were not awarded until 1923 and 1925, respectively. The program continued to develop throughout the 20th century, eventually adding a curriculum in Horticultural Therapy. This curriculum was composed of classes across multiple disciplines, including physical therapy, psychology, and even anthropology, alongside the horticulture requirements. Landscape Design was introduced to the department in the early 1980s, and a Bachelor of Landscape Architecture was added in 1993. The first master’s students were admitted to Landscape Architecture in 2008.

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Throughout its history, Maryland has never lost its connection to agriculture and plant life, as clearly reflected in the 15,148 botanical specimen we now boast on campus. Our continued dedication to beautiful gardens and plant life is exhibited in the work that the Department of Plant Science and Landscape Architecture, alongside Facilities Management, does on the maintenance and development of the Arboretum and Botanical Garden in order to continue this legacy. Their excellent work has resulted in our campus being named a Tree Campus USA by the National Arbor Day Foundation, and we are in pursuit of the award this year for the eighth time.

Garden with pink flowers by Consoli
Garden along McKeldin Mall. Photo by John T. Consoli.

Diamondback Reporting on Famous Visitors

Members of the University of Maryland community know that the campus often invites world-famous people to campus, from writers (e.g. Ralph Ellison, author of The Invisible Man, in 1974) to queens (Queen Elizabeth II in 1957). These visitors often draw large crowds and facilitate campus dialogue, and The Diamondback, as the primary student newspaper on campus, provides invaluable insights into these historic campus visits.

Gus Grissom
Gus Grissom addresses students

Fifty-two years ago, on March 10, 1964, in the midst of the Space Race, the university invited NASA astronaut Gus Grissom to campus to speak to students. Grissom outlined the Gemini program, which we now know as NASA’s second human spaceflight program, and hinted at plans for the renowned Apollo program’s lunar landings. The Diamondback reported that during the question and answer session, however, students forced Grissom to defend the value of the space program and contrast the U.S. program with that of the Russians. This is just one instance of The Diamondback providing a student perspective of the campus climate and culture.

Here’s a teaser for an upcoming post about another famous person featured in The Diamondback:  Next month, look for a post about a U.S. Senator from Massachusetts who delivered the 1959 convocation address.

Thanks to a successful Launch UMD campaign, the University Archives is in the process of digitizing the entire run of The Diamondback, from 1910 to the present. Graduate Student Assistant Jen Wachtel, who is collecting data for the digitization project, has now collected over 70 years’ worth of Diamondback data from the microfilm reels available in the Maryland Room! Stay tuned to Terrapin Tales for updates on her discoveries and the Diamondback Digitization project. This post is the fourth in a series – check out the Twitter hashtag #digiDBK and search for #digiDBK on the Terrapin Tales blog for the first three blog posts.

Astronauts (left to right) Gus Grissom, Ed White, and Roger Chaffee perished in a fire on the launchpad during Apollo 1 testing on April 27, 1967 — only a few years after Grissom hinted at the Apollo program at UMD. This photograph was taken ten days before the fatal fire. Image source: NASA (public domain)

Enjoy your Spring Break and check back again in two weeks!

UMD123: 60

A beloved character created by one of the members of the UMD Alumni Hall of Fame wins the honor of the number 60–Ferdinand the Bull. Munro Leaf, Class of 1927, created the charming tale of a bull who didn’t like to fight in 1935, and since its publication the following year, The Story of Ferdinand, has been translated into over 60 languages.

Ferdinand the bullFerdinand was not like the other bulls with whom he lived in Spain. While they enjoyed running and frolicking in the fields, Ferdinand just liked to sit and smell the flowers. All the young bulls grew big and strong, including Ferdinand, and while his friends longed to be picked to go to the bull fights in Madrid, he wished to remain under his cork tree in peace. One day, five men came to pick the bulls to take to the arena, and all the bulls except Ferdinand tried to show how fierce they were, until suddenly he sat on a bee and was stung and began snorting and running around and pawing the ground. The men decided Ferdinand was the strongest and fiercest bull of all, and they loaded him into a cart to take him to the bullfights in Madrid. All the banderilleros, picadors, and even the matador were afraid of him, but when Ferdinand entered the arena and smelled the flowers in the hair of the ladies in the audience, he merely sat down in the center of the stadium and smelled and smelled the beautiful flowers. Everyone was very mad at him, but Ferdinand wouldn’t budge, so they loaded him back into the cart and took him home to his field where he returned happily to sit under his cork tree and taken in the lovely aroma of his beloved flowers.

Munro Leaf autograph in Ferdinand_resizedThe University of Maryland Libraries are fortunate to have an inscribed copy of The Story of Ferdinand in the Marylandia collection.

Ferdinand was a controversial book when it was published, as some critics believed that it was a thinly veiled negative commentary on international aggression.  Leaf denied this, stating in a 1939 Washington Times Herald article that the book was only ever intended for children, adding: “I don’t even think he was a pacifist.  He just showed plain horse sense–or maybe I should say ‘bull-sense’…He didn’t want to fight because he didn’t see any good reason for it.” Hitler had the book burned in Germany,but it was a favorite of Mahatma Gandhi’s and Eleanor Roosevelt’s.

Munro Leaf, Ferdinand’s creator, now a member of Maryland’s Alumni Hall of Fame, graduated with a B.A. in 1927. Leaf wasn’t an author while at Maryland–he played lacrosse, was a captain in the R.O.T.C., and was senior class treasurer.  He went on to write many other children’s books, and his career earned him a distinguished service award from Maryland’s Board of Regents in 1960.  He passed away in 1976.

Today you can read Leaf’s little work around the world in such languages as Spanish, Polish, Sudanese, German, Chinese, Latin, and even American Sign Language.

In addition, Ferdinand made his way onto the big screen, when Walt Disney adapted the popular children’s book into the seven-minute animated film Ferdinand the Bull, which won an Academy Award in the Best Short Subject (Cartoon) category in 1938.

This is a post in our new series on Terrapin Tales called UMD123! Similar to our “ABC’s of UMD” series last semester, posts in this series will take a look at the university’s history “by the numbers.” New posts will come out twice a month, on Wednesdays, throughout the semester; search “UMD123” or check out Twitter #UMD123 to see the rest. If you want to learn more about campus history, you can also visit our encyclopedia University of Maryland A to Z: MAC to Millennium for more UMD facts.