The University of Maryland Archives mourns the loss of a good friend, John McNamara, in yesterday’s tragic shooting at the offices of the Capital Gazette. John was a UMD graduate, Class of 1983, and former writer for The Diamondback before he began his career as a professional journalist.
We worked closely with John on the two books he wrote about UMD athletics, University of Maryland Football Vault: The History of the Terrapins (2009) and Cole Classics! (2001). It was an honor and a privilege to collaborate with John on this projects. He spent hours in the Maryland Room gathering the data he needed to make his work completely accurate, and he was deeply appreciative of our support in helping him find information and images and doing a thorough fact-checking of his manuscripts.
Even after John had completed his books, he was always available if we had a question for him or needed his help in making a contact in the world of college athletics.
He was truly a Terp for Life, and we will miss him greatly.
In October 2016, the University Archives acquired nearly 750 photographs from university alumnus Dick Byer, Class of 1967. Mr. Byer spent much of his time on campus working for various student publications like the Diamondback and the Terrapin yearbook. He took photos all around campus of various scenes of student life, and he was usually in prime locations to take photographs at sporting events, including football, basketball, and lacrosse games from the 1964, 1965, and 1966 seasons. Photographs of theater productions and Greek life events are also featured in his collection.
The 1960s were a time of rapid change on university campuses across the country, and campus life at Maryland changed dramatically late in the decade, as Mr. Byer’s photographs document. His collection features photographs of Billy Jones, a Maryland Terrapin noted for being the first African American men’s basketball player in the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC), as well as a handful of pictures from inside Town Hall, a College Park landmark that just recently underwent renovations. The Dairy is also featured in its former home, Turner Hall. In addition, Mr. Byer documented George Wallace’s visit to Cole Field House in May 1964.
George Wallace in Cole
Eating ice cream at the Dairy
Billy Jones at practice
Mr. Byer’s images also record how the campus has physically changed over the years. Some photos feature simple changes, like shrubbery in front of McKeldin Library, while others exhibit how dramatically the landscape around Maryland Stadium and North Campus has been transformed. One photo even shows some of the campus sheep grazing on the land where the Xfinity Center now stands!
The University of Maryland Archives is delighted to have this extensive collection of images from the 1960s to add to its holdings and looks forward to sharing Mr. Byer’s photographs with researchers interested in what life was like at UMD over 50 years ago. Please stop by the Maryland Room in Hornbake Library to take a trip down memory lane!
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 original 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!
A few months ago, the University Archives received a very special addition 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.
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.
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.
Board of Regents minutes noting Whittle’s admission.
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.
In 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.
Women’s basketball team, 1927
Men’s basketball team, 1905
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.
women’s basketball team, c. 1078
women’s basketball, NCAA champions, 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.
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.
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.
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”.
If 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.
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.
Keeping a record of student life throughout campus history has long been one of the primary missions of the University of Maryland Archives. Part of that goal is the effort to collect as much history and documentation from active student groups as we can, including the numerous Greek organizations on campus. Recently, the children of alumnus Harry Hasslinger, the first president of Alpha Tau Omega at Maryland, donated the original petition to formally establish a chapter of Alpha Tau Omega on Maryland’s campus. The petition was drafted in 1930, and the Epsilon Gamma chapter of ATO was formally established on campus that same year, making it the 11th recognized fraternity at the University of Maryland.
This document tells us a lot about student life at Maryland in the early 20th century and serves as an example of how new fraternities are created. The cover of the petition states that it was authored by “Delta Psi Omega.” This was the local chapter that later became the Epsilon Gamma chapter of Alpha Tau Omega. Local chapters are small organizations that exist on one campus and have no national network or affiliations. Delta Psi Omega was created in 1920 with, as the petition tells us, the goals of “promoting true college spirit, a high standard of scholarship, a sincere interest in personal welfare and happiness of each other, and of cultivating lasting friendships, creating and maintaining true brotherly love and fidelity, and perpetuating it as a fraternity.” In 1930, the local chapter president, Harry Hasslinger, asked for partnership and union with Alpha Tau Omega, as their mission aligned most closely with that of the brothers of Delta Psi Omega.
The petition includes information about campus history, such as the university’s financial statement from 1929 and descriptions of other social, honorary and women’s fraternities. We can also view photographs of buildings around campus and see how campus has physically changed in the intervening years. Some buildings, like Gerneaux Hall, have either changed dramatically or no longer exist. The photo of Byrd Stadium is the old Byrd Stadium, which stood where Fraternity Row is now. There’s also a shot of the “Engineering Building,” which may look more familiar to many of you as Taliaferro Hall.
The brothers included a photo of the then-Delta Psi Omega house in the petition, and we have since learned that Alpha Tau Omega still occupies that same house nearly 90 years later! Bob Nichols, the Associate Director of the Office of Fraternity and Sorority Life, told us that the house underwent a major renovation after this photo was taken and was re-clad with brick. Now, the Alpha Tau Omega house matches the other surrounding university buildings (and other fraternity and sorority houses) on the outside, but the inside is still very similar to what is pictured in the petition. In fact, the parlor still has the same basic configuration, and the grandfather clock seen in that photo is still one of the Epsilon Gamma chapter’s most prized possessions.
After a brief period off-campus in the 1990s, a group of dedicated Alpha Tau Omega alumni worked to re-charter the chapter at Maryland and re-instill the organization’s intense values of leadership. In the years since being re-chartered, the Epsilon Gamma chapter of Alpha Tau Omega has become quite a dominant force in Greek life at UMD. They are the only chapter to have received the President’s Cup for Top Chapter more than twice – they’ve actually won the award 6 times in the last 12 years. The men of Alpha Tau Omega were also recognized by the National Interfraternity Conference in 2009 as the Best Chapter of any fraternity in America.
Documents like this petition are enlightening for a number of reasons, and not just to people interested in or involved with Greek life. These kinds of records help to tell a more complete story of student life, which is extremely important in remembering and keeping the history of any college or university. If you’re in a fraternity or sorority at Maryland, feel free to come and visit the archives. We may have some information you’ve never seen before about your organization, or you may be in possession of significant records or photographs that should be preserved. Feel free to open the conversation with us about taking care of your chapter’s history! We’d be more than glad to help where we can!
Each year, the University of Maryland’s President’s Commission on Women’s Issues (PCWI) holds a Celebration of Women, honoring the contributions of campus women of influence. This year’s Celebration will be a particularly special one, and one in which the University of Maryland Archives is proud to play a role.
Inspired by the Archives’ exhibit, “‘We take our hats off to you, Miss(es) Co-eds’: Celebrating 100 Years of Women’s Education at Maryland,” last fall at McKeldin Library, the PCWI decided that their 2017 event would take a bit of an historical bent. Commission members asked the Archives to create a slideshow of historical images of women on campus from 1916 to 1946 which will run as guests at the event gather and mingle, and we are currently putting the finishing touches on that presentation. The event will also feature remarks from four alumnae from different eras in the university’s history, Ellie Fields, Class of 1949, Sallie Holder, Class of 1962, Nicole Pollard, Class of 1991, and Sarah Niezelski, Class of 2016, recounting their experiences as female students at Maryland. Following the panel discussion, the Commission will honor seven outstanding UMD women of influence: Rashanta Bledman, Karen O’Brien, Jandelyn Plane, Nazish Salahuddin, Erica Simpkins, Sharon Strange Lewis, and Katherine Swanson.
The Celebration of Women will be held from 1:30 to 4 PM on March 31 in the Special Events Room, Room 6137, in McKeldin Library. The event is open to the public, and all are invited. Come celebrate some very special alumnae and current members of the UMD campus community, and enjoy some treasures from the UMD Archives!