Historical Item Analysis: Byrd Stadium Dedication Program

MD vs Navy_093050Byrd Stadium, now known as Maryland Stadium, opened on September 30, 1950, with a win over the Navy Midshipmen by a score of 35-21. This was the first game between these two teams since 1934, when university officials suspended the rivalry series that was marred by rough play and vandalism on both of the schools’ campuses.

It is difficult to imagine what it was like to be a fan who attended that game simply by looking up the final score, but reading through the original copy of the program book that was distributed to attendees of that game can take you back in time to a different era of the Terps football program. This piece of football memorabilia is filled with photographs and names of players, coaches, and other important individuals in the UMD and Navy football programs. Various feature articles appear in the book, including one that discusses why Navy was the ideal football team for the Terps to play in the Byrd Stadium dedication game. An entire list of possible in-game penalties and the associated number of yards lost, some of which have been modified over the years, are included for spectators who were not experts in the rules of football. Advertisements in the book are printed in black and white and are mostly text-based, which is quite different from the ads and commercials to which we are exposed at football games today.

This program was printed long before D.J. Durkin was the coach of the Terrapins; the team was still a member of the Southern Conference, they were coached by Jim Tatum, and the president of the university was Harry Clifton “Curley” Byrd. The Byrd Stadium dedication game was undoubtedly an important milestone in the university’s athletic program history. Members of the university community can take a look at the program books for this game and other games in the University Archives to see what has changed and what has stayed the same over the years in the long and storied history of the Terps football program.

This is the second 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.

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