Historical Item Analysis: University of Maryland Song Book

If you’ve been to any University of Maryland sporting event, then you understand how much Terrapin fans love to sing. A lot. The victory song, fight song, and alma mater are played at every sporting event – but where did they come from?

Song bookThe Class of 1941’s Student Government Association published an official University of Maryland songbook, creatively title University of Maryland songs, in 1941. Included in that book were the iconic “Hail! Alma Mater,” “Victory Song,” and “Maryland Fight Song.” Those songs were initially published and copyrighted in 1940, 1928, and 1941, respectively; but they were all re-published and re-copyrighted during the publication of the songbook in 1941. While the alma mater has been maintained intact from publication to current day, the songs we know today as the “Victory Song” and “Maryland Fight Song” are only the choruses to the original pieces; the lyrics are preserved in the chorus, but the original songs are much longer.

In addition to these well-known songs, the songbook contains lesser known – but just as interesting – songs. These songs include “Sons of Maryland,” the oldest song in the songbook originally published in 1917; “We’re in the Army,” a march lamenting ROTC tasks that was chanted by cadets during their march; and last, but certainly not least, the “Maryland Drinking Song,” which compels Terrapins to dispel their fears of hell as they toast to their friendships.

If you’re looking to polish off your rendition of any of these songs, the songbook is located in the University Archives and contains the official score for all of these songs, including lyrics and separate treble and bass clefs. However, if you want to brush up on UMD’s lyric history without needing to brush off your shoes for walking to Hornbake Library, you can find the lyrics to current versions of the alma mater, victory song, and fight song online, on the UMD library website. Be advised: the website only contains modern versions of these songs, not the original versions with the other verses, and only contains lyrics for the aforementioned three songs. If you want to see the complete versions of any of the songs in the songbook, visit the University Archives in Hornbake Library.

This is the fourth 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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