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!


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