Ferdinand Revisited

At the end of March, 20th Century Fox released a trailer for a movie that’s a new take on an old favorite: “The Story of Ferdinand.” The popular children’s book was originally published in 1936, and Disney released a short film about the timid bull in 1938, which won the Academy Award for Best Short Subject (Cartoons) that year.

But what does this have to do with UMD history?

Well, the author of the monroe leaforiginal children’s book, “The Story of Ferdinand,” is an alumnus
of UMD! Munro Leaf graduated with a B.A. in 1927. Upon its release, his short story was considered
anti-war propaganda and was banned in many countries. Leaf defended his work, saying that the story of Ferdinand was simply “a happy ending story about being yourself.” You can read more about Leaf and his infamous book here.

Be on the lookout for the new version of this charming story about the bull who loved to smell the flowers, coming to a theater near you in December 2017!

Lyndon B. Johnson Commencement Address

Only six months before he would become President in the wake of John F. Kennedy’s assassination, Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson was in Cole Field House delivering a commencement address to the 1963 graduating class.

FrontMore than 12,500 people were expected to attend the ceremony on the morning of June 8. While the paper wasn’t running when he gave his speech due to summer break, the May 21, 1963, Diamondback carried the announcement of Johnson’s upcoming visit and explained the circumstances surrounding the appearance by the vice president. One factor noted in the report was that both LBJ and UMD President Wilson Elkins were native Texans.

At the time Johnson was simply the vice president Articleunder Kennedy after he had lost to the President in the 1960 Democratic Primary. As President, Johnson would play a large role in advancing Civil Rights and social services while also getting America entangled in the Vietnam War.

Johnson’s future vice president, Hubert Humphrey, would come to campus to speak only two years later.

The Diamondback is the university’s primary student newspaper, and its coverage of campus events provides an invaluable perspective on the university’s history. Thanks to generous donations and a successful Launch UMD campaign, the University Archives is digitizing the entire run of the newspaper, which is currently available on microfilm in the University Archives and McKeldin Library. This post is the part of a series based on information collected during the Diamondback Digitization Project. Check out the Twitter hashtag #digiDBK or the DigiDBK tag on our Terrapin Tales blog for previous posts, and watch for more DigiDBK posts from our team throughout the coming months!

 

MAC Music Returns to Campus

A few months ago, the University Archives received a very special additioncadet2step to our collections: a copy of the original song, the “MAC Cadet Two Step.” It is the oldest published UMD song, dating from 1897! The only other copy of it that’s known to exist is at the Library of Congress, and the song is among the oldest pieces of copyrighted music in its collections.

The song was written by Ira E. Whitehill, an accomplished Maryland Agricultural College student and member of the Mandolin Ensemble.  The student-run club was created in the 1896-1897 school year, but it really didn’t hit its stride until Whitehill,   the only member of the original group who returned to campus the following year, assumed his role as director that fall. His “quick musical insight” allowed him to assemble the highest quality musical talent from among the cadets, aiming to create a group that would be an “honor to the college and to themselves.” That year, the ensemble was lauded by the Reveille (the MAC yearbook) as a “remarkable advancement” from the previous year’s attempt.

97mandolin club
The first Mandolin Ensemble        Whitehill seated second from left

Whitehill went on to compose many other songs,  including the comedic “College Hash” and the “Reveille March and Two-Step,”  which was written to honor The Reveille yearbook. Both songs were featured in the commencement exercises of 1899.

The most recent performance of the “MAC Cadet Two-Step” took place in 2015 at L. Richmond Sparks’ retirement concert. You can listen to the lively tune here. Another very special rendition was part of the half-time show at Homecoming in 2008, celebrating the band’s 100th anniversary; you can find this on YouTube at: https://youtu.be/0UWZcm_LGBs.

Ira Whitehill’s dedication to his craft and his school set a precedent for future student-run organizations. He not only built a lasting example for future installments of the Mandolin Ensemble, but he also created a wonderful piece of University of Maryland history that will now remain on campus for many years to come.

ira whitehill quote

Historical Item Analysis: Mercer Literary Society Minutes

calvert
Charles Benedict Calvert, 1808-1864

When Charles Benedict Calvert died on May 12, 1864, the Maryland Agricultural College (MAC) lost its founder and one of its strongest supporters. As an advocate for the college, Calvert played a key role in obtaining MAC’s charter from the Maryland General Assembly, canvassing in support of the institution and fundraising to launch it. As a result, his death shook the MAC community.

Upon his death, the Mercer Literary Society, one of the college’s earliest student groups, honored him at its regular meeting. The meeting minutes pictured below show the society’s Resolution on the Death of Charles Benedict Calvert, dated May 14, 1864. The society expresses “warmest feelings of respect and sympathy to his bereaved family” and writes that Calvert was a “neighbor, benefactor and friend.” The meeting then adjourned immediately out of respect for Calvert and his family. These minutes offer a unique perspective into how the student body reacted to Calvert’s death.

To learn more about the Mercer Literary Society or Charles Benedict Calvert, visit the websites below, or stop by the Maryland Room in Hornbake Library to see these historical items for yourself.

http://hdl.handle.net/1903.1/1658

https://umdarchives.wordpress.com/tag/charles-benedict-calvert/

This is the tenth and last entry in a series of blog posts prepared by students in the current HIST 429F: History of the University of Maryland class taught by University Archivist Anne Turkos and Assistant University Archivist Jason Speck. Each of the students was assigned an historical item to analyze by responding to a series of six questions. They were also required to submit a brief blog post as the concluding portion of their assignment. We will be featuring some of these blog posts and the items the students reviewed for the remainder of the semester, so check back frequently for more of the HIST 429F student projects.

Historical Item Analysis: Admission of Hiram Whittle

A6_hiram whittle
Hiram Whittle with his fellow residents of Temporary Dorm One.

In early 1951, the Board of Regents of the University of Maryland met in a special session to determine what to do about the application of African American Hiram Whittle to the College of Engineering at the still-segregated College Park campus. Whittle would not be the first black student at Maryland – Parren J. Mitchell received a court-ordered admission to the graduate school the year before – but he would be the first undergraduate. In Mitchell’s case, University President Harry Clifton Byrd had issued an urgent telegram to the regents compelling them to admit him to the university with the understanding that Mitchell could take classes in Baltimore, “where equal facilities and quality of work can and will be provided.”

While this statement hardly sounds like a paragon of Progressivism today, four years before Brown v. Board of Education Byrd needed to balance the principle of separate and equal accommodations, an increasingly litigious NAACP that was winning court victories across the country, and a loud segment of white Maryland citizens and parents that did not have the appetite for black students at their children’s schools. Byrd had hoped his proactive measure would ward off a court order, but he was mistaken, and Mitchell arrived on campus in the fall.

In early 1951, with the color wall having already been breached, the Board of Regents again attempted to take action before being told to do so. They ordered the admission of Hiram Whittle to the College of Engineering and issued a parting shot at the Maryland Legislature in the form of a written statement, essentially blaming that body for forcing the regents’ hands:

The question naturally arises as to whether the State is willing, or the people wish to appropriate sufficient funds to establish additional substantially equal facilities for Negroes to the facilities that are now available for white people. This will be necessary in order to continue the bi-racial system of education. If the State does not wish to do this, then the Board regards it as impossible to continue the bi-racial system now presumably in effect. The facts show that the Board has made repeated requests over many years of State authorities for adequate funds to meet this need. If these funds had been granted, this action of the Board today would not have been necessary.

In their decision, the Board made specific reference to the absence of adequate engineering facilities at the all-black Princess Anne campus – now the University of Maryland Eastern Shore – a fact to which President Byrd personally attested, having been a frequent advocate for increased funding there to maintain the separate facilities.

The Board of Regents concluded their statement on Mr. Whittle’s admission by imploring the state to make a final decision on integration, noting, “What has been done heretofore neither gives the Negro what he is entitled to nor prevents him entering the University of Maryland. It is inconsistent to say that the bi-racial system should be continued and then not make adequate provision for its continuance.”

Much has been made in recent years, of the failure of past administrations of the university, and Harry Clifton Byrd in particular, to adequately and equitably provide for the needs of black students and faculty. Yet in their zeal to scrub Byrd’s name from the public edifices of the university, his detractors risk painting Byrd with the same broad racist brush as a George Wallace – who famously stood in the doorway of the University of Alabama in 1963 to physically block the admission of black students until removed by the National Guard. Byrd and his colleagues were products of their time and place, which is to neither excuse nor condone their beliefs, but merely to contextualize their comfort with and normalization of segregation in public services as it existed in Maryland.

From the evidence in the available records, one could conjecture that President Byrd and the Board of Regents understood the hypocrisy of the doctrine of “separate but equal” in practice. Byrd frequently pushed the legislature for increased funding at Princess Anne, and was keenly aware of the inadequacies of the facilities of that institution compared with his beloved alma mater in College Park. Could Byrd have worked even harder to obtain money earmarked for black students on the Eastern Shore or moved to integrate higher learning in Maryland before being sued to do so? Almost certainly. However, it should be recognized that the university did not fight integration to the bitter end, like in many other southern states. The university was placed in an untenable position by the state legislature, which both mandated segregated schools and refused to provide the adequate funds to provide equal accommodations for black students. When forced to make a decision on the matter, the Board of Regents correctly chose to integrate the University of Maryland.

This is the ninth in a series of blog posts prepared by students in the current HIST 429F: History of the University of Maryland class taught by University Archivist Anne Turkos and Assistant University Archivist Jason Speck. Each of the students was assigned an historical item to analyze by responding to a series of six questions. They were also required to submit a brief blog post as the concluding portion of their assignment. We will be featuring some of these blog posts and the items the students reviewed for the remainder of the semester, so check later this week for the final post in the series, and look for previous historical item analysis posts elsewhere on Terrapin Tales.

Historical Item Analysis: Performance Gear, circa 1920s

Uniform_06042014_0396In the 1920s, the Maryland women’s intramural basketball team wore a uniform consisting of a woven white cotton shirt and knee-length woven linen pants that would be unthinkable for today’s athletes. The bloomer-style pants appeared to offer some freedom of movement, but the straight sleeves of the shirts must have interfered with dribbling, passes, and shooting hoops. Woven cotton and linen are highly regarded today for classic, upscale apparel, but definitely not for fitness activities and team sports. By comparison, the men’s basketball uniform was a sleeveless top and shorts very similar in style to what basketball players wear today.

 

A photograph of the women’s team in 1927 teams shows them looking fit, mostly smiling, and ready to play. However, silk stockings rolled tightly around their knees look constricting and uncomfortable, and the thin-soled shoes did not seem like they offered very much of an assist in running, jumping, and generally moving around the court. The best part of the uniform must have been the bloomer pants—loose, comfortable, and not restrictive.

Lacking the high-tech gear with which sports teams are outfitted today, the intra-collegiate teams of the 1920s performed admirably and contributed to the growth of women’s basketball at the University of Maryland, which became a varsity sport in 1971. Within a few years, the Lady Terrapins won their first state championship in 1973, and they reached the Women’s Final Four in 1978, 1982, 1989, 2006, 2014, and 2015, winning the national championship in 2006.

Hats off to white cotton shirts, black linen bloomers, silk stockings and the women’s teams of the 1920s!!

This is the eighth in a series of blog posts prepared by students in the current HIST 429F: History of the University of Maryland class taught by University Archivist Anne Turkos and Assistant University Archivist Jason Speck. Each of the students was assigned an historical item to analyze by responding to a series of six questions . They were also required to submit a brief blog post as the concluding portion of their assignment. We will be featuring some of these blog posts and the items the students reviewed for the remainder of the semester, so check back frequently for more of the HIST 429F student projects.

Historical Item Analysis: 19th-Century Student Register

The Maryland Agricultural College, the predecessor to the University of Maryland, was founded in 1856 and first opened its doors in October 1859. From these first days in 1859 through to the end of the 1906-1907 school year, the College made use of a single book to record the names of and information about its students, the first student register. The first class was composed of students mostly from Maryland and Virginia, though several came from the District of Columbia, Missouri, North and South Carolina, Delaware, Georgia, New York, and Pennsylvania. These students filled their names into the register throughout the 1859-1860 school session as they arrived, all the way into late spring near the end of the session.

first page of 1859 student register
First page of the MAC student register, 1859.

One of the most interesting aspects of this register is that several names and places had spellings different than they do today, mostly due to the lack of standardization in spelling and grammar. For example, one of the students of the 1859 session wrote that he was from ‘Qween Anne’s County.’ Similarly, inconsistencies in spelling have the state of Maryland written either as one word or as ‘Mary land.’ One student had himself hailing from Washington City in ‘Washington County,’ D.C.

Of particular note are the international students attending the College. The first, Pastor A. Cooke from Panama, arrived in 1871. A student from Cuba, A. P. Menocal, attended in 1875. Two Korean students (spelled then as ‘Corea’) attended the College during its 1888-1889 session, Min Chow Ho and Pyon Su, who at the time wrote his name as ‘Penn Su.’ Only Pyon Su continued at the college, all the way through to his graduation on June 24, 1891, and stayed in the area until he was tragically killed in a train accident on October 22, 1891. A student from Sonora, Mexico also attended in 1898.

The first student register is one of the earliest and most important documents maintained in the University of Maryland Archives. It has been digitized for ease of access and preservation, and the full register may be reviewed here.

This is the seventh in a series of blog posts prepared by students in the current HIST 429F: History of the University of Maryland class taught by University Archivist Anne Turkos and Assistant University Archivist Jason Speck. Each of the students was assigned an historical item to analyze by responding to a series of six questions . They were also required to submit a brief blog post as the concluding portion of their assignment. We will be featuring some of these blog posts and the items the students reviewed for the remainder of the semester, so check back frequently for more of the HIST 429F student projects.

Historical Item Analysis: We’ve Always Been a Basketball School

Before there was Melo Trimble, even before there was Greivis Vasquez, and definitely before there was Tom McMillen, the University of Maryland Terrapins played incredible basketball in Cole Field House, formally known as the Cole Student Activities Building.

first bball in Cole programThe first game played in the arena, second in size to Madison Square Garden at the time, was a men’s basketball game between the University of Maryland and the University of Virginia on December 2, 1955. The program from this game still exists today and is kept in the University Archives. There are several beautiful pages in color, including the cover and the scoring sheets, which were sponsored by Coca-Cola. Some of the most interesting parts of the program are the various advertisements that exist throughout. There are advertisements for everything from “The Pizza Hut” to cigarettes to “Lansburgh’s,” which was a men’s clothing store that sold the “College Classics.” The program sold for a mere 35 cents, which wouldn’t even buy you a bottle of water at today’s games. And just like the Terrapins do today, they won that game, 67-55, over the Virginia Cavaliers.

Written by Samantha Waldenberg, this is the sixth in a series of blog posts prepared by students in the current HIST 429F: History of the University of Maryland class taught by University Archivist Anne Turkos and Assistant University Archivist Jason Speck. Each of the students was assigned an historical item to analyze by responding to a series of six questions . They were also required to submit a brief blog post as the concluding portion of their assignment. We will be featuring some of these blog posts and the items the students reviewed for the remainder of the semester, so check back frequently for more of the HIST 429F student projects.

Historical Item Analysis: Student Life in the 1870s

In a letter recently donated to the University Archives, a student describes what life was like in the early years of the college after its inception. The letter will make students happy to live in an era where healthy food is taken for granted as opposed to 1871 (when the letter was written) which describes the meals as “hardly fit to eat”.

Davidson letter p1If the content of the letter almost seems unreal, the story how the University Archives obtained the letter will also seem unreal. Anne Turkos, of University Archives, received a call from a man who said that he was watching the bidding on an old document on eBay, the 1865 diary of Maryland Agricultural College student Charles Berry, and wanted to know if the University Archives would be interested in purchasing it,  With his help, the Archives was able to purchase the diary, and when Turkos went to pick it up, the Archives’ benefactor gave her this letter from Percy Davidson to add to the Archives’ collections. That is how the letter is in the University Archives. A generous man wanted to help the University Archives grow.

In addition to giving us clues on the struggles of the college in 1871, the letter also shows what familial dynamics were like back then. It sounds like Davidson is not close with his mother because he writes that the letter contains the “plain truth,” implying that in previous letters Davidson’s mother did not fully trust the words of her son. In addition, Davidson portrays himself as an overly righteous and moral person, so perhaps Davidson’s mother suspected Davidson of having bad morals. Certainly, that is not how students behave in 2017.

You can find more information about the letter, images of all four pages, and a complete transcription of this document at  https://umdarchives.wordpress.com/2016/11/17/student-life-in-the-1870s-new-acquisition/.

Written by Benjamin Douek, this is the fifth in a series of blog posts prepared by students in the current HIST 429F: History of the University of Maryland class taught by University Archivist Anne Turkos and Assistant University Archivist Jason Speck. Each of the students was assigned an historical item to analyze by responding to a series of six questions. They were also required to submit a brief blog post as the concluding portion of their assignment. We will be featuring some of these blog posts and the items the students reviewed for the remainder of the semester, so check back frequently for more of the HIST 429F student projects.