Ruth Finzel’s May Day Folly

Ruth Finzel-cropThe University of Maryland Archives recently received the 1930 handwritten diary of Ruth M. Finzel (Class of 1931), of Mt. Savage, MD. In it, she shares her experiences as a co-ed in the College of Education, living in the newly constructed Alpha Omega Pi house on College Avenue and as an active participant in the Y.W.C.A. and women’s non-varsity sports, such as tennis, basketball, bowling at College Park lanes, and soccer. The University Archives staff has transcribed the diary and will be sharing excerpts from Ruth’s chronicles in future blog posts.

We begin with May Day, a popular spring tradition that played an important role on campus during Ruth’s era.  May Day festivities (1923-1961) were first established by Dean of Women Adele Stamp.  They included an elaborate pageant with costumes, a theme such as “Nursery Rhymes, “Neptune, Ruler of the Sea,” “Rip Van Winkle,” and “Famous Lovers,” dancing around the Maypole, and the crowning of a queen and her court. The junior women worked many months creating the handmade invitations and costumes to honor the seniors.

Ruth and her AOPi sorority sisters attended numerous rehearsals on the lawn starting in April to prepare for the occasion.  Their heightened interest was inspired by the fact that her sorority sister, Evalyn Ridout (Arts & Sciences, Annapolis, MD), was to be crowned May Day Queen. All the junior women spent many hours creating the handmade invitations and festive costumes that captured the Zingaree, the Gypsy theme for the year.

1930 May Day invitation and program


The morning of May Day began with rain but fortunately cleared in time for the ceremony. Pictured here, Queen Evalyn Ridout  is accompanied by her four attendants:

univarch-055040-0001Left to Right:=
Alice (Curry) Nourse, Educ., Davidsonville, MD, Kappa Kappa Gamma
Isabel Dynes, Home Economics, Chevy Chase, MD, Alpha Ypsilon Chi
Isabel (Izzy) Bewick, Education, Cumberland, MD, Kappa Delta
Roberta Harrison, Education, Washington, DC, Chi Omega

 Ruth writes:

“Rained off & on but finally cleared up so we had May Day.  It was a gypsy theme and fairly good.  Evalyn Ridout was May Queen with Izzy Bewick, Isabel Dynes, Curry Nourse, & Roberta Harrison as maids.

Went to the Chorus recital with Marguerite & Helen & nearly had hysterics over a woman who sang.”

We post this today, on the 86th anniversary of this special day in Ruth’s life, and encourage you to check back for future snapshots of this era in UMD history! Enjoy these additional photos of Zingaree and the gypsies.

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Gridiron Memories

The University Archives recently acquired an exciting new piece of Terrapin football history: the program from the Maryland vs. Michigan State game on October 7, 1950.

MD vs Michigan State_fball_1950_crop

This 34-7 drubbing is the only triumph over the Spartans to date and was a landmark victory for head coach Jim Tatum in his fourth season at the helm.

Here’s a full account of the game from the 1951 Terrapin yearbook:

MD vs Michigan State_1951 yrbk_p282

We are excited to have the program to add to the Archives to commemorate this very special moment in B1G Terrapin football history! Stop by Hornbake Library and check out the other programs in our collection, dating back to 1923.



New Find! 1954 Orange Bowl Tickets

It’s been proven that processioning the President’s Office files of Curley Byrd can be full of surprises. For example, yesterday we came across these nearly pristine 1954 Orange Bowl tickets in a folder titled “Orange Bowl Ticket Requests For Game on January 1, 1954.” It was exciting to see that these tickets were saved, but the fact that they were kept in such great condition was a huge bonus.

The 1954 Orange Bowl game was played against Oklahoma on New Year’s day. The Terps ended up losing the game by the score of 7-0. Luckily though, the game was played after Maryland finished their regular season undefeated and had already been crowned national champions in 1953.   

New research source

The UMD Libraries are pleased to announce the availability of a new electronic resource, the historical files of The Evening Star, the newspaper of record for Washington, DC, for the years 1852 to 1922. Articles in the database are full-text and fully searchable. Published under such titles as Washington Star-News and The Washington Star, this long-running daily afternoon newspaper was one of the highest profile publications in the United States.

Evening Star Homepage
A screen shot of the Evening Star search page

The UMD Archives is particularly pleased that this resource has been added to the very long list of the Libraries’ searchable databases, since the Star contains a great deal of coverage of activities at the Maryland Agricultural College and the University of Maryland.

You may access the database through the UMD Libraries’ Research Port at

Ralph Tyser, Recipient of the first “Key to the Campus”

Recently we acquired two interesting pieces of University of Maryland history, including the very first “key to the campus,” which was presented to alumnus Ralph Tyser on May 22, 1992. The item that accompanied the key was Ralph Tyser’s original University of Maryland diploma from 1940.

Continue reading “Ralph Tyser, Recipient of the first “Key to the Campus””

6x6 Testudo created by Donna Johnson's 7th grade Math class, Glenwood MS.

Larger Than Life: Testudo’s Travels in Glenwood

On the Friday before Christmas the University Archives visited Donna Johnson’s 7th grade math class at Glenwood MS in Glenwood, Maryland, in order to pick up a very special donation.

6x6 Testudo created by Donna Johnson's 7th grade Math class, Glenwood MS.
6×6 Testudo created by Donna Johnson’s 7th grade Math class, Glenwood MS.

Mrs. Johnson’s students had created a 6X6 larger-than-lifesize Testudo using only a small image they found on the web and their amazing math skills.  When they contacted the university to see if they could donate their work, we were more than happy to accept.

Glenwood MS math students signing the deed of gift, thereby learning the importance of always reading the fine print.
Glenwood MS math students signing the deed of gift, thereby learning the importance of always reading the fine print.

While visiting we showed the students how the image of Testudo has changed many times since his arrival in 1933, and we shared some pizza while all of the students took turns signing the Deed of Gift. We also encouraged the students to come see the original Testudo (the once-live-now-taxidermied diamondback terrapin that was the model for the statue) in April on Maryland Day.

We’ve brought Testudo back home, but are still working on the best way to display this wonderful piece of math & art without risking undue damage.  Our sincere thanks to Glenwood Principal David Brown, Donna Johnson, and the wonderful students we met–Jared, Jake, Jim Bob, Taylor, & Julie, and to students J.T. & Chase who worked on the project but weren’t able to meet us that day. We hope to have them visit us soon, and eventually to become undergraduate Terps!

The students and Mrs. Johnson (second from left) pose with Testudo.
The students, Mrs. Johnson (second from left), and aide Linda Brown pose with Testudo and the original drawing the students worked from. Great job all!!!
Shuttle-UM 40th Anniversary

Happy Anniversary, Shuttle-UM!

Are you a Shuttle-UM rider? Perhaps you use the commuter service to get around campus or to the College Park Metro Station. Maybe you’ve used the security service routes or NITE Rite when it’s late and you need to get back to the dorms. Perhaps you’ve used paratransit, or ridden on a bus chartered by your athletic team or student organization. Even if you’ve never set foot on one of the red, turtle-adorned buses, you’ve probably seen them picking up and dropping off your classmates around campus.

Shuttle-UM celebrates its 40th anniversary this month! The University Archives is excited to help Shuttle-UM celebrate its ruby anniversary by introducing a new addition to its archival collection. The new records were received this past summer, and have been processed and added to the original collection (received in 1994). You can now come see records of the service’s history, administration, and operation dating all the way back to 1975 in the Maryland Room at Hornbake Library.

Shutlle-UM in processing
Records of Shuttle-UM behind the scenes:
Processing in progress

Nighttime security shuttle service was established by students in November 1972 in response to safety concerns. By the end of the school year, it consisted of four vans and three routes, with a yearly ridership of 65,000. The name “Shuttle-UM” was established in 1975, and by the fall of 1976, intracampus routes to the parking lots, evening Call-A-Ride (now known as NITE Ride), charter services, off-campus commuter routes and disabled transit service (now known as paratransit) had all been introduced. When the finding aid for original Records of Shuttle-UM collection, covering 1975 to 1994, was written in 1998, the service had over 30 buses and an annual ridership of over 1 million. Today, Shuttle-UM (which merged with the Department of Campus Parking in 2002 to become the Department of Transportation Services, or DOTS) has a fleet of over 60 vehicles and an annual ridership of over 3 million.

Shuttle-UM schedules 1976-2004
Bus schedules for the Adelphi South route from 1976 to 2004

Following the recent addition, the Records of Shuttle-UM includes documents from 1975 to 2008. It contains histories of the organization, annual reports, publications (including reports, proposals, and employee handbooks and manuals), correspondence, and other administrative records. If you’re more interested in Shuttle-UM’s daily operations, you can check out over three decades worth of bus schedules and route information, as well as dispatcher logs, shift schedules, and more. For visual types, there are plenty of news clippings and slides. There are even some audio and video cassettes (remember those?) My personal favorite, however, has got to be this certificate, proclaiming November 14, 1992 (20 years ago today!) Shuttle-UM Appreciation Day in College Park.

Shuttle-UM Appreciation Day

Update: Check out our follow-up post regarding the Black Student Union and the origins of Shuttle-UM in response to Matthew Riddick’s comment (below).

Auzoux bug models

Recent Acquisition: Auzoux bug models

Auzoux bug models

The University Archives recently acquired these models of a silkworm larva and a male and female silkworm moth from Dr. Donald H. Messersmith, professor emeritus in the UMD Department of Entomology. Dr. Messersmith was responsible for their care for many years, and the Archives is delighted to take over preservation of these amazing pieces of laboratory equipment.

Auzoux moth  Auzoux caterpillar

The models were created by the workshop of French anatomist and naturalist Louis Thomas Jérôme Auzoux (1797–1880) and were purchased by the Maryland Agricultural College c.1891 for use in entomology instruction.  Auzoux developed a special papier-mâché technique that allowed him to create anatomically correct models of the human body and zoological and botanical specimens that could be taken apart to reveal their full structure.

Entomology lab, 1900
Students working with the bug models at a table in the Entomology Lab, 1900. Click for a larger image – you can see both the moths and the caterpillar, as well as some kind of beetle!

Right now in the Maryland Room we have a small exhibit featuring these models and several photographs of entomology students using them. Make sure to stop by and check it out!