In 2021, Maryland alumna Dr. Jeanette Epps will make history as the first African American female astronaut to serve as a member of the crew aboard the International Space Station. This announcement in late August prompted us to remember the four other Terps who have soared far above the Earth.
Our first Terp in space was Dr. Judith Resnik. She received her Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering from the University of Maryland in 1977, and NASA named her an astronaut the following year. Prior to her selection for the astronaut corps, Dr. Resnik was employed as a design engineer at RCA, as a biomedical engineer and staff fellow at the Laboratory of Neurophysiology at the National Institutes of Health, and as a senior systems engineer at the Xerox Corporation. Dr. Resnik first flew as a mission specialist on STS-41D, the maiden flight of the orbiter Discovery. On this 1984 flight, she logged 144 hours and 57 minutes in space. She was among the members of the crew of the orbiter Challenger,which exploded shortly after take-off on January 28, 1986, killing all onboard. Dr. Resnik and her fellow crew members received the Congressional Space Medal of Honor posthumously, on July 23, 2004.
William (Willie) McCool received his master’s degree in computer science from the university in 1985, two years after graduating from the U.S. Naval Academy with a bachelor of science degree in applied science. He completed flight training in the Navy in August 1986 and spent over 2,800 hours in the air in 24 different aircraft before his selection as an astronaut in April 1996. His first space flight was to be his last. Following a successful 16-day mission, during which the crew conducted over 80 experiments, McCool and his fellow astronauts perished aboard the Space Shuttle Columbia, 16 minutes prior to scheduled landing, on February 1, 2003. He was posthumously awarded the Congressional Space Medal of Honor, the NASA Space Flight Medal, the NASA Distinguished Service Medal, and the Defense Distinguished Service Medal (DDSM).
Paul Richards, a 1991 graduate with a master’s degree in mechanical engineering, spent March 8th through 21st, 2001, in space on the STS-102 Discovery mission to the International Space Station. During this mission, he was one of two crew members to perform an extra-vehicular activity (a spacewalk) for a total of 6 hours and 21 minutes. He presented University of Maryland President C. D. Mote, Jr., with a banner he took on this mission at a ceremony during Maryland Day 2001. In addition to his service as a mission specialist, Richards has held other positions within NASA. He helped develop software for the space shuttle and International Space Station and served as the Observatory Manager for the Geotstationary Operational Environmental Satellite (2004-2014) and the Deputy Project Manager for the Laser Communications Relay Demonstration Project focused on the next generation of satellite communication using laser technology. Richards retired from NASA in 2019.
Richard “Ricky” Arnold II received his master of science degree in marine biology from UMD in 1992 and was selected as mission specialist in 2004. Prior to his selection by NASA, he worked in the marine sciences and had served as a teacher in such places as Morocco, Indonesia, and Saudi Arabia. His first journey into space was aboard the space shuttle Discovery, on a February 2009 mission to the International Space Station. As part of this mission, Arnold completed two spacewalks, for a total of 12 hours and 34 minutes outside the station. He was also part of an international crew, consisting of two American astronauts and one Russian cosmonaut, for Expedition 55/56 from March 21 to October 4, 2018. During this mission he completed an additional three spacewalks to perform maintenance and upgrades on the space station. He is currently classified as a management astronaut, no longer eligible for flight assignment, and is assigned to the Johnson Space Center in Texas.
Dr. Jeanette Epps is the most recent Terp to join the astronaut corps. She was selected as a member of the 2009 astronaut class and completed her candidate training in 2012. Dr. Epps received her master’s degree in aerospace engineering from UMD in 1994 and her Ph.D. in 2000. While she was in graduate school, she was a NASA fellow and authored several frequently cited journal and conference articles about her research on composite swept-top beams and shape memory alloys. Following completion of her graduate studies, she spent several years at the Ford Motor Company as a Technical Specialist in their Scientific Research Laboratory, where her work led to the award of a patent relating to automobile collision location detection. She spent an additional seven years at the CIA as a Technical Intelligence Officer before her selection as an astronaut.
The university has a connection to another famous astronaut—John Glenn, who attended classes in the late 1950s in the unit of UMD known as University College when he was stationed at the Pentagon. University College became its own independent campus in 1970 and is now called University of Maryland Global Campus (UMGC).The 1963 Terrapin yearbook cover features Testudo in a space capsule circling the world to honor Glenn’s achievement as the first American to orbit the Earth aboard Friendship 7 on February 20, 1962. You can read more about John Glenn in the blog linked here!
Anne S.K. Turkos is the University Archivist Emerita for the University of Maryland. She has been a part of the staff of the UMD Libraries’ Special Collections and University Archives since January 1985. Before retirement in July 2017, she worked with campus departments and units, student groups, and alumni to transfer, preserve, and make available permanent university records. She continues to support the Archives through her work on special projects and fundraising.
University Archives is refreshing our blog! Starting with this post, we will be making the blog non-anonymous, so readers can know the voices behind the posts. We will also be using this platform to be more transparent about the work we do in UA, in addition to sharing stories of UMD history. We hope that these changes will help share the values and mission of UA so readers can develop stronger understandings of archival work. Our ultimate goal is to connect more meaningfully with our community so as always feel free to contact us via: firstname.lastname@example.org
Archives exist to preserve institutional memory and history. One major criticism of archives, and one that is rightly deserved, is that archives far too often tell only the story of administrators, faculty, and bureaucracy. Very few student records are preserved in the University of Maryland Archives. Students are at the core of our institution and its history and their stories deserve to be preserved and remembered as a major part of the daily functioning of the University of Maryland.
While the University Archives (UA) does hold student yearbooks and newspapers, there is a significant gap in our holdings related to student organizations. UMD students are involved in hundreds of student groups across campus but beyond mentions in the Diamondback or a photo or two in the yearbook the history of those organizations- their members, their activities, their mission – are lost after a few years.
In an effort to fill these gaps in the historical record, UA started Stamp Your History in the 2019-2020 academic year. This collection initiative was developed by Special Collections and University Archives in conjunction with Student Life, the Undocumented Students Program, and the Department of Fraternity and Sorority life. The goal of the Stamp Your History initiative is to foster collaboration with student leaders and organizational members in order to preserve student contributions to campus and foster a more inclusive archive that honors all voices in the historical record.
What records should I save?
In order to better understand the history of campus life at the University of Maryland, we are interested in collecting the following types of documents related to student organizations:
Administrative records (bylaws, founding documents, organizational histories)
Organizational records (budgets, meeting minutes, handbooks, websites, publications, correspondence and emails)
Outreach (flyers, posters, scrapbooks)
How do I save my organization’s records?
Label records with names, dates, and descriptions
Keep your records together in one place
Store physical records in a dry, clean space if possible
Consider how you are saving digital records
All our records are digital, should I save those?
Yes! We are interested in collecting photos, websites, sound recordings, video recordings, social media posts, and any other digital materials. Contact University Archives for more information on how to export and preserve these records.
How do I transfer my organization’s records?
Contact University Archives staff to learn more about our collection practices and activities
Develop a schedule for transferring records to our archives (at the end of each semester, officer term, or academic year)
Contact University Archives staff about digital records like websites and social media
I’m interested! Who do I contact to learn more about Stamp Your History?
Sara Ludewig is a graduate student pursuing a Master’s of Library and Information Science and a Master’s of Arts in History. She is graduate student assistant in University Archives at the University of Maryland. She is interested in oral history, creating a more inclusive archival record, and advocacy and outreach in archives.
Casey Hughes is a graduate student pursuing her Masters in Library Science. She is a graduate student assistant in University archives at the University of Maryland. She is interested in archival instruction and adding more diverse voices to archival collections.
Dr. Darryll J. Pines became the University of Maryland’s 34th president on July 1, 2020. Among the twelve initiatives he announced on his first day at the helm was his proposed recognition for four UMD pioneers—Hiram Whittle, Elaine Johnson Coates, Pyon Su, and Chunjen Constant Chen. President Pines submitted a request to the Board of Regents to name the two newest dorms on campus, currently under construction, for these outstanding alumni “in honor of their pioneering and trailblazing steps to diversify the University of Maryland student body” and their contributions “to the rich diversity and culture that defines our campus today.” In his announcement, President Pines noted that each of these inspirational individuals “exemplifies Terrapin grit, desire, and determination to succeed against all odds.”
Though their stories may be familiar to many of our readers, we felt it was appropriate to reprise them here in light of President Pines’ request.
Of this group of distinguished alumni, Pyon Su is the earliest graduate and the first Korean to graduate from any American college or university. He received his degree from the Maryland Agricultural College (MAC), as the University of Maryland was then known, in 1891 and even delivered one of the addresses at Commencement that June. Mr. Pyon first came to the United States as part of a diplomatic delegation from Korea. Upon his return home, he was exiled due to a change in political leadership during his absence, and his lands were confiscated. He returned to the U.S. and enrolled in the MAC, focusing his studies on scientific agriculture, the foundation of the early years of the college. He was also active in campus life, helping to found the Rossbourg Club, an early student organization.
Tragically, Mr. Pyon was killed only a few short months after graduation when he was hit by a train at the College Park railroad crossing the night of October 22, 1891. The Washington Post noted that at the time of his death, he
“was engaged upon a compilation which would have shown the condition of agriculture in China. He was a careful student and a good linguist and but twenty-eight years of age.”
Mr. Pyon was buried in the St. Joseph’s Cemetery in Beltsville, MD, approximately five miles from campus.
Chunjen Constant Chen, a native of Shanghai, China, enrolled in the Maryland Agricultural College in 1915. Like Pyon Su, he pursued studies in agriculture, but left after his junior year to transfer to Cornell University, where he completed his undergraduate work in 1919. Mr. Chen returned to the Maryland State College of Agriculture following his graduation and received his master’s degree in agriculture in 1920. Following a career as an associate professor of biology and agriculture at Tsing Hua University in Peking and a stint as an agricultural economist at the Bank of China, he returned to the university in 1952 as a research associate in the Bureau of Business and Economic Research. Two years later, he was appointed as an assistant professor and chairman of the Chinese section of the Department of Foreign Languages at the university. At his retirement in 1967, he was named professor emeritus. All four of Mr. Chen’s sons, Ping, Ming, Yi, and Kong, attended UMD. Chunjen Constant Chen passed away in 1978.
Hiram Whittle grew up in Baltimore. Mr. Whittle began his undergraduate studies in mathematics at Morgan State College in September 1948. One year later, he chose to apply for admission as an engineering student at the University of Maryland, then an all-white institution. When he did not receive a response, Mr. Whittle petitioned the Baltimore City Court for a decision on his application without regard to race. He received assistance from the NAACP and lawyers such as Thurgood Marshall and Donald Gaines Murray, the first African American to attend the University of Maryland Law School.
Denied admission in August 1949, he continued his studies at Morgan State while pursuing legal action. On January 31, 1951, the Board of Regents acknowledged that engineering opportunities were not equal between College Park and the Maryland State College at Princess Anne (University of Maryland Eastern Shore), where Mr. Whittle had been referred two years earlier. Considering the circumstances, the Board of Regents voted to admit him to the University of Maryland at College Park.
As UMD’s first African American undergraduate student, Mr. Whittle pursued coursework in Engineering Mechanics and Drawing, as well as Sociology and Government and Politics. He left the university in June 1952 without completing his degree. He briefly relocated to New York City to continue his education but returned to Baltimore in 1955. He initially worked in a grocery store, then served as a draftsman for city engineering consultants. Mr. Whittle has been employed by the city of Baltimore since 1967, and still works full-time, at age 89, as a title records assistant. He is a lifelong and devout Jehovah’s Witness and generously donates his free time to serve his religious community.
At the May 2020 virtual commencement ceremony, the University of Maryland announced that Mr. Whittle will receive an honorary Doctor of Public Service degree. University officials hope to award this degree in person at the December graduation ceremony.
Elaine Johnson Coates entered the University of Maryland in fall 1955 and, four years later, became the first African American woman to earn an undergraduate degree at UMD. Coming from Baltimore’s segregated Frederick Douglass High School, Mrs. Coates’ guidance counselor discouraged her from considering college and refused to write a letter of recommendation. Mrs. Coates overcame this to realize her dream of attending college. Once she was on campus, Mrs. Coates found living in Caroline Hall “very lonely at first. Some girls would speak to me in the dorm, but when they got outside, I guess because of peer pressure, it was a very different thing.” She also encountered unequal treatment in the classroom, finding that her white classmates often received higher grades for similar work. Mrs. Coates persisted, however, noting as she looked back on her studies at Maryland, “I had a plan and I had a purpose. I wanted to do something that had never been done in my family … I wanted to make my family and my church proud of me, and those whose shoulders I was standing on were very strong.”
After earning a degree from the College of Education, Mrs. Coates began a long career in social work and teaching. Her two children also graduated from Maryland.
In spring 2019, the Alumni Association honored Coates with a new award for a graduate who has made a significant contribution that fosters diversity and inclusion—an award named in her honor. Mrs. Coates also addressed the Class of 2019 at Commencement. “I stand upon this podium and look out at the diversity in the beautiful faces of this graduating class, and it tells me that my journey mattered,” she said.
Mrs. Coates, shown here at the Commencement ceremony, will also receive an honorary Doctor of Public Service degree, as announced during the May 2020 Commencement ceremony. University officials hope to award this degree in person at December graduation.
The University of Maryland has an intriguing connection to one of the most famous philatelic (stamp collecting) stories of all time—the discovery of the inverted Jenny air mail stamp printing error and the subsequent sales of the rare stamps for astronomical sums.
Early in the 1903-04 school year, a fourteen-year-old boy named William Thomas Robey, from nearby Berwyn, MD, enrolled in the Maryland Agricultural College (MAC), as the University of Maryland was then known. It was not unusual at this time for young men of a similar age to attend MAC, since the college was admitting students younger than what would be considered normal college age today to help bolster revenue. Robey remained at MAC for only one year, but he is mentioned several times in the 1904 Reveille.
He is listed as a member of the 48-member freshman class and undoubtedly appears in this class photo, although the individual students are not identified. The yearbook also records his status as a private in Company B of the MAC corps of cadets and his membership in the New Mercer Literary Society, one of a limited number of student organizations in existence at this time.
Fifteen years after Robey’s enrollment, the United States Postal Services was about to embark on a bold new venture—delivery of mail via a relatively young technology called the airplane. Plans for the stamps needed for the new service were finalized less than two weeks before the first flights were scheduled. The Post Office rushed the unusual 24-cent stamps, costing eight times as much as a regular first-class mailing, into production. The design featured an elaborate border and a Curtiss Jenny mail biplane in flight.
Early on the morning of May 14, 1918, William Robey, now an active and savvy stamp collector, left his office at the brokerage firm of Hibbs and Company in downtown Washington, DC, and walked to the New York Avenue branch of the post office to purchase a sheet of the first air mail stamps ever issued. Robey was on the alert for printing errors which he felt might occur due to the two-part design of the new stamps and the rush to have them printed.
Accounts of the sequence of Robey’s actions that morning vary, but the end result is the same—he was able to purchase a full sheet of 100 24-cent air mail stamps showing the biplane flying upside down, the very error he had anticipated. The same day that Robey bought this sheet, he began to solicit offers from various stamp dealers to purchase the rare find. Eventually, after protracted negotiations with several individuals, he sold the entire sheet to Eugene Klein, one of the leading stamp dealers in the United States, on May 21, a week after his initial purchase, for $15,000, quite a hefty profit after such a short time.
Klein turned around and sold the sheet to Edward Howland Robinson Green, a millionaire stamp collector, for $20,000, but the profits did not stop there. Green authorized Klein to break up the sheet into singles and small blocks for re-sale at ever-increasing prices. The inverted Jenny is considered to be the holy grail for philatelists (stamp collectors), and the most recent public sale of a single one of these stamps in 2018 brought $1.593 million at auction.
You can find more information about the saga of these rare stamps online and in George Amick’s book The Inverted Jenny: Mystery, Money, Mania (Sidney, OH: Amos Press, 1986).
Amazing to think that one of our own Maryland Agricultural College students had a role in the tale of such a famous collectible!
Today we celebrate the 100th anniversary of the graduation of Elizabeth Gambrill Hook, the first woman to take all of her classes on campus and receive a four-year degree from the University of Maryland. Two women, Charlotte Vaux and Grace Bruce Holmes, had graduated earlier, Vaux with a two-year degree in agriculture in 1918 and Holmes finishing her four-year, bachelor of science degree in 1919 after transferring to UMD, but Hook deserves special recognition.
Elizabeth Hook matriculated at the Maryland State College of Agriculture, as the University of Maryland was then known, on September 14, 1916, indicating that she planned to pursue a career in “experimental work.” You can find more information about her undergraduate days and her career following graduation in a recent Terrapin Tales.
Upon her graduation on June 16, 1920, with a degree in entomology, she became a teacher. She married Franklin Day, who later became the superintendent of schools for Kent County, Maryland, in August 1921, and was very active in St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Centreville.
When Elizabeth Hook Day passed away in 1950 at the age of 54, Dean of Women Adele Stamp prepared a brief obituary for the alumni magazine, recognizing her pioneering role at UMD. She included a quotation from the citation the co-eds presented to Mrs. Day at the 1937 May Day celebration when they honored her contribution to women’s education at Maryland:
“To Elizabeth Hook Day, the first woman graduate to enter the University from high school, and to spend four years on our campus we present this orchid, with grateful appreciation for opening the way for education of women. By her courage, friendliness, dignity, and ability she cleared the path for other women to follow. To her we pay honor and esteem, and time can never erase from our grateful memories the contribution she has made.”
As we are sure it is for all of you, COVID-19 (commonly known as Coronavirus) is heavy on the minds of all of us at University Archives. This global health crisis has impacted the lives of the University of Maryland community in so many ways, both large and small. In light of this, the University of Maryland Libraries Special Collections and University Archives is launching the “Shell-tering in Place: Terp Stories of COVID-19” project. The goal of this project is to compile the stories of the UMD community’s experiences during the pandemic. We invite all members of the University community to contribute to the collection as we strive to record the ways our lives have been impacted by this historic moment.
As we arranged this collecting project, we also took time to reflect on the current global health crisis from an archival perspective. We reflected on the 1918 Spanish Flu Pandemic and how it impacted the University of Maryland campus community (then called Maryland State College). We hoped that seeing how the Spanish Flu was reflected in our archive might inform our understanding of how the COVID-19 pandemic may be remembered. What resulted was an observation on the ways archival collections might obscure the past and the ways we can contextualize archival materials to shed light on the past.
The Origins of the Spanish Flu:
In March 1918 soldiers at an Army base in Kansas fell ill with flu-like In March 1918, soldiers at an Army base in Kansas fell ill with flu-like symptoms. What began as traditional flu symptoms of headache, fever, and nausea rapidly developed into severe pneumonia for these soldiers. Their ailment? The Spanish Flu: an avian flu that caused a pandemic in 1918. Within one week of the infections in Kansas, the number of cases had quintupled and the illness rapidly spread across the globe as soldiers traveled to Europe to fight in World War I. The 1918 flu pandemic unfolded in three waves of illness: the first in spring 1918, followed by a second wave in September 1918, and a third in January 1919. Historians estimate that approximately 500 million people contracted the virus, resulting in 50 million deaths worldwide. The Spanish Flu remains one of the largest pandemics in world history.
Gaps in the Record: Spanish Flu and Maryland State College
The first place we searched for information about the effect of the Spanish Flu on campus was the 1919 yearbook. Given that the influenza did not really take effect until April 1918, we knew that it would mostly appear in the yearbook of the following year. However, we were surprised to find no mention of the pandemic. Even in the sections that served as a reflection on the school year, there was no mention at all of the disease. Knowing that the disease had a widespread effect, we found it unlikely that no one on campus had contracted the flu, so we turned to the student newspaper, the Maryland State Weekly. From this, we discovered a relatively small number of mentions of the Spanish Flu or influenza. The most significant mention was in a published letter by the President of Maryland State College, Dr. Albert F. Woods, who wrote one short paragraph addressing the influenza:
We learned that the administration put classroom instruction on hold for the month of October and students mostly did outdoor coursework, which made sense since we were known as an agricultural school. According to Woods, this measure helped prevent the spread of the illness but other than this short paragraph, we found no other mentions of how the University dealt with the pandemic.
A handful of other mentions of the influenza in the paper seems to have fallen into one of two categories. The first is community updates. There are a smattering of short blurbs across issues of the Maryland State Weekly where they note the illness, recovery, or in a few cases, the passing of Maryland State College community members. From these, it is clear that the campus was significantly affected. Many members of the professoriate seem to have suffered from the flu at one point or another, and one esteemed faculty member, Professor E. F. Stoddard, died as a result of it.
In contrast to these somber accounts, the second type of mentions seem to be more humorous. We found two poems in the student submitted sections that seemed to make light of the effects of the flu. There was also a reference to the flu in an article about the new dining hall that read:
“How can the old mess hall, in which there was no space, where the students had to crowd together like packed sardines; and where the danger of worse diseases than the Spanish Influenza was imminent, be compared with our new and spacious ‘Hotel’?”
Maryland State Weekly, 11/6/1918
We connected this sort of reference to the lighthearted responses to we are seeing across Instagram, Twitter, and other social media platforms right now. As people seek to alleviate the stress they are feeling, some are turning to humor in funny memes, tweets, and TikTok videos. In contrast to the huge amount of humorous quarantine related content saturating the internet right now, it was surprising to us that there were only three joking mentions of the Spanish Flu in the Maryland State Weekly.
Asking the Right Questions:
As you can see, the 1918 pandemic has a relatively small presence in our archival collections compared to the magnitude of the event worldwide. However, this seeming lack of sources has the potential to reveal a great deal about the pandemic and its impact on the Maryland State College campus. Historians employ the practice of reading sources “against the grain,” examining limitations, silences, and power dynamics in their sources alongside the information those sources actually contain. Why does our archive contain limited sources on this topic? And why did the College, the students, and the faculty hardly write about the personal impact of the flu, preventative measures, and its global spread? The lack of source material at University Archives relating to the 1918 flu prompts us to ask these questions and place our sources within a broader historical context to help us understand what may have actually been going on.
A lack of a response to a large historical event is a response. By placing our University specific sources within the larger historical context of 1918 and asking the right questions, we are able to gain a clearer understanding of what may have been happening on campus.
A key factor to consider when studying the Spanish Flu pandemic, is the U.S. involvement in World War I. The U.S. entered the global conflict in April 1917 and by June 1917, Congress had passed the Espionage Act which, among other restrictions, allowed censorship of the press. The government censored the information disseminated by large news agencies, and local journalists self-censored in fear of government sanctions. By government decree, the news was not allowed to reflect negatively on the military or hamper the war effort in any way. What does this have to do with Spanish Flu? Well, the very naming of the Spanish Flu was the result of WWI-related censorship of the press. Although historians now present evidence that the virus originated in Kansas, Spain was the first country to report infections in its newspapers. A neutral party during WWI, Spain did not censor its press while the U.S., Britain, Germany, and other warring nations prohibited the spread of news related to infected soldiers. With this information in hand, we can bring new perspective to the Maryland State Weekly’s mentions of the influenza outbreak. Rather than statistics, we find personal notices of illness. Instead of reports of the spread there is lighthearted poetry. What impact did the WWI culture of censorship have on the local campus press? Were mentions of the flu purposefully left out of print?
Asking specific questions about the historical context of WWI and censorship helps us understand the limitations of newspapers as sources during the pandemic. However, censorship does not explain other gaps in our archival record. The archive has almost no photographs, scrapbooks, or other papers describing the impact of the Spanish Flu on campus. Was the massive death toll too difficult to talk about in the wake of the pandemic? Were people embarrassed by the way they treated other people during the outbreak? Was the disease poorly understood and therefore not discussed on campus? These are all questions that beg greater exploration by researchers using our collections.
We also can question what materials made it to preservation in University Archives, examining gaps and silences in the collection of historical records. While individuals at the University of Maryland informally collected records pertaining to the history of the University, University Archives was not professionalized and did not hire an archivist until the early 1970s, over fifty years after the 1918 pandemic had subsided. Most of the earliest records on campus burned in a 1912 fire, and from 1912 until the 1940s materials related to the history of the University were not given collecting priority by the libraries. Collecting priorities shift over time, and it becomes difficult to collect items fifty years after events have passed. According to archival theorist Michel-Rolph Trouillot, silences are written into history at the moment of source creation, when the archives are created, and when researchers select which sources to use. Individuals chose what to record in 1918 about the flu, archivists chose what was important to collect regarding the flu, and researchers will choose what is important to highlight from our collections. All of these factors combine to limit what the archive tells us about the 1918 pandemic.
All of these factors are important to understanding our current situation and the role of archives in remembering the past. The sources highlighted here appear in marked contrast to the reaction now, where the University’s measures to keep staff and students safe are frequently updated and reported by many. The Diamondback has ongoing coverage of news related to COVID-19 and the topic is inescapable in any news source as it has impacted so much of our lives. While understanding the past does not prevent future disasters, there are important lessons we can learn today from studying and comparing responses to the COVID-19 pandemic and the 1918 pandemic. How will future researchers look back at the University of Maryland’s response to COVID-19? How can we account for differences and similarities in the way the campus responds to pandemics in very different historical moments? Are the silly flu poems of 1918 showing a similar response to the darkly funny memes and tweets of today? How have silences already worked their way into the ways we report on and preserve people’s experiences of COVID-19? And how can we work to eliminate these silences in our reporting, collecting, and writing?
Archives contain important tools and sources for understanding the past, but researching in our collections often requires a critical eye and a larger understanding of context. Archival research requires asking the right questions and reading between the gaps and silences in the historical record to gain a greater understanding of the past. At University Archives, we envision an inclusive and diverse collection that paints a broad view of the experiences of the University of Maryland community, including community experiences during the COVID-19 pandemic.We invite members of the community to visit the collections landing page to read more about contributing to the COVID-19 collection. We hope to hear your stories soon!
Barry, John M. The Great Influenza: The Epic Story of the Deadliest Plague in History. New York: Penguin Books, 2004.
Benjamin, Walter. “Theses on the Philosophy of History.” 1942.
As the University of Maryland developed over the course of the 20th century, slowly becoming more inclusive, many exceptional women stepped forward as pioneers, leading the way for other women to follow. The next few blog posts will highlight these pioneering women and their experience at the University of Maryland.
Our first feature is Elizabeth Hook. Elizabeth Hook was the first woman to graduate with a four year degree from MAC. As we noted in the last blog post, she matriculated in the fall of 1916, shortly after the school became Co-educational. During her first semester, she was the only female student, as Charlotte Vaux did not arrive until the spring semester.
Hook studied Entomology, the study of insects, which was under the department of “Plant Industry” as at the time, the university departments were organized by industry. We don’t know much about Hook’s day-to-day experiences, but can imagine the challenges of being the only female student at the institution!
In spite of being the only women in the Class of 2020, Hook did not shy away from involvement on campus. Throughout her time at Maryland, she was a Class of 1920 officer. She was also involved in the Maryland Review, the school newspaper, and the Baltimore City Club. She was a founding member of Sigma Delta, the first women’s sorority at MAC.
After graduating, Hook worked as a high school teacher at Hyattsville High School, and she later married Franklin D. Day, another UMD alumnus. Their son, Franklin Jr., was the first student to attend the University of Maryland who had two alumni as parents!
For our next pioneering woman, we will jump forward to the 50s with Elaine Johnson Coates! Come back next week!
As we enter Women’s History Month we’re excited to share moments in women’s history and the stories of women who have made an impact on campus. From the first woman to graduate from the University of Marylandto the creation of the Women’s Studies program, women on campus have come a long way, and we’re pleased to showcase their history and accomplishments. Stay tuned for a series of posts over the month of March, focusing on different moments in the history of women at the University.
First up: Maryland goes co-ed!
Before we were the University of Maryland, this institution was called the Maryland Agricultural College (M.A.C.) and later, Maryland State College of Agriculture. From its inception in 1856, it was an all-male institution. However, in the 1916-1917 academic year, the first female students, Charlotte Vaux and Elizabeth Hook, matriculated. As an agriculture college, a large portion of the students studied agriculture-related fields such as agronomy and animal husbandry. The other fields of study Maryland offered were biology, chemistry and engineering. Vaux matriculated into the two-year agriculture program and became the first “co-ed” to ever graduate from Maryland. Hook studied Entomology.
Charlotte Vaux, 1917
Elizabeth Hook, 1917
Vaux with the 1917 Class of Two-Year Agriculture Students
In the 1917 yearbook, the yearbook editors published a welcoming message to the new female students (referred to then as “co-eds”) and expressed their eagerness that more female students come to M.A.C. The administration shared the sentiment and, in the following years, created new programs and curricula to entice a greater number of female students. By 1920, M.A.C. was home to over twenty-two female students, and had developed Home Economics and Liberal Arts programs.
As the Maryland State College of Agriculture began to accept more female students, they found themselves limited by the space they had to house them. While the old President’s house sufficed at first, eventually the school had to rent a house off-campus to house as many students as they could, and the rest were left to find housing of their own. In 1920, college governance requested funding for a women’s dorm. The Home Economics department built a “Practice House” which came to serve as housing for female students, helping assuage that need for a time. But as the percentage of female students grew through the years, the university had to develop to accommodate them. By 1958, there were eight female dorms, and, in 1969, Hagerstown Hall became the first co-ed dorm.
The presence and experience of women on Maryland’s campus has changed a lot since 1916, and we have these first women to thank for leading the way. Stay tuned! As March goes on, we will be highlighting several of the university’s pioneering women.
If you are interested in exploring the collections referenced in this post, you can visit our home page here and browse through the digitized yearbook collection found here.
As the application deadline for the Class of 2024 rapidly approaches, University Archives explored the history of admissions at the University of Maryland, College Park!
In 1877, prospective students of Maryland Agricultural College were expected to “pass good examinations in Reading, Writing, Arithmetic, Grammar, Geography, and History of the United States” and applications were submitted directly to the President of the college. The trend of in-house admissions testing continued into the 20th century, as the University continued to require passage of a University administered examination until 1925.
By 1926, students were given three options for admission to our campus. Students were approved for admission based on completion of a certificate from an approved high school, transfer from another college or university, or passage of the exam administered by the College Entrance Examination Board. The exam was likely the SAT, first administered by the College Entrance Examination Board in 1926 and gaining in popularity for use college admissions in the 1940s.
Nevertheless, the University continued to not require an examination for students seeking admissions throughout the 1930s and 1940s, even as applications increased dramatically with the implementation of the GI Bill following World War II.
By 1961, however, the University changed its policy to include three requirements for admissions. Students needed to have graduated from an accredited secondary school, have received a letter of recommendation from the school’s principal, and taken the required high school credits necessary for admission into a particular academic program. Non-Maryland residents were also required to submit exam results from the College Entrance Examination Board.
It was not until 1962 that our admissions policy first required a standardized test for admission, making students to submit results from the American College Testing Program, also known as the ACT.
Even as the ACT and SAT became standards for admission to the University of Maryland, students, faculty, and administrators began to question the effectiveness and equity of standardized testing in admissions practices. Student newspapers The Diamondback and Black Explosion reveal growing frustration with UMD’s admissions policies beginning in the 1970s. One article in Black Explosionin January 1980 points to a study conducted by the Office of Minority Student Education (now the Office of Multi-Ethnic Student Education or OMSE) that revealed the “cultural biases of standardized tests” and their inability to “accurately predict academic success.”
A more recent 2018 editorial in The Diamondbackpoints to further issues with requiring SAT or ACT scores for admission, highlighting the financial inaccessibility of these expensive tests and the ways the testing requirement disqualifies financially disadvantaged students.
Despite the continued advocacy of students for test optional admissions policies, the University of Maryland continues to require submission of ACT or SAT scores as a part of the application for admission.
For more information on the history of undergraduate admissions at the University of Maryland and the debate over standardized testing, take a look at our Course Catalogs and Student Newspaper Database or visit us in Hornbake Library!
Also, check out these admissions materials from 1970 to 2011!
For many years, the signature song “There She Is, Miss America” concluded the nation’s most well-known beauty pageant, the 93-year-old Miss America competition. Although such contests spotlighting women’s physical appearance have been re-directed to emphasize contestants’ artistic accomplishments, talent, and personal philosophies and have a lower profile in the 21st century, the mystique of the Miss America pageant persists.
As part of a major update to our MAC to Millennium: University of Maryland A to Z website in summer 2019, we have added a list of all the UMD students/alumnae who have been crowned Miss Maryland and represented the state on the national stage to the site. The first Miss Maryland to attend UMD was Marie Lorraine True (Evans), who won the crown in 1959. The most recent was Adrianna David, crowned in 2018. Visit Miss Maryland on the MAC to Millennium site to find the full list.
Perhaps one day Miss Maryland will reach the pinnacle of the Miss America competition. It could even be tonight! The broadcast begins at 8 PM Eastern Time on NBC. When it does happen, wouldn’t it be awesome if Miss Maryland was a Terrapin??!!