Historical Item Analysis: Student Life in the 1870s

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”.

Davidson letter p1If 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.

You can find more information about the letter, images of all four pages, and a complete transcription of this document at  https://umdarchives.wordpress.com/2016/11/17/student-life-in-the-1870s-new-acquisition/.

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.

Recent Acquisition: Alpha Tau Omega Petition

01_coverKeeping 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 02_thefraternityand 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.

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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!

If you’d like to review the entire petition, click here!!

Celebration of Women

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.

pcwi inviteInspired 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!

 

Play! Ball!

Can you guess what was the earliest sport played on the M.A.C. (Maryland Agricultural College) campus in the mid- to late 1800s?

Baseball.  The cadets began playing baseball competitively shortly after the Civil War.  Games were more of the club variety, without a formal squad or schedule. The first record of game action the University Archives has found in the local newspapers comes from the Baltimore Sun of June 7, 1869:

On Saturday last, a friendly match game of base ball was played between the Vernon Club, composed of the students of the Maryland Agricultural College, and the Star Club of Laurel. After a well-contested game, the Vernon was declared the winning club, the score standing–Vernon 61, Star 40. The day was cool and favorable for playing, the sky being overspread with clouds. There was quite a number of ladies and gentlemen present to witness the friendly struggle. The game was called at four o’clock and lasted until seven. S. Brashbears as acted as umpire, and W. Easter and Thomas O’Brian as scorers.

A recent University Archives acquisition challenges this 1869 date. In summer 2016, the Archives purchased a diary from 1865 written by M.A.C. student Charles Berry. Berry described playing “base ball” in his several of his March entries, so it is likely that the game was prevalent on campus even before 1869. You can find more information about Berry’s diary here.

1871-rule-book-coverAnother early indication of the presence of baseball on the M.A.C. campus is the grouping of baseball rule books, dating from 1871 to 1910, found in the mid-1990s among the records of the University of Maryland President’s Office. Although there is no direct proof that these rule books were used at M.A.C., their presence among the president’s files would seem to imply that the cadets were indeed playing baseball at that time.

By 1893, according to the Maryland Agricultural College Bulletin of July 16, 1894, a typical team consisted of the college’s vice president, a math professor, the athletic director, and several students.

Several early players of note deserve special attention:

simon-nicholls-page_cropThe first Terp to play baseball professionally was Simon Nicholls (Class of 1903), who played shortstop for the Detroit Tigers, Philadelphia Athletics, and Cleveland Naps in the early 1900s.

Charlie (King Kong) Keller (Class of 1937) is the only Terp to play in the All-Star game and the World Series to date.

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Charley Keller Day at Yankee Stadium, 1948

H. Burton (Ship) Shipley, baseball and basketball coach to players known as “Shipleymen” for 38 years (1923-1961), was inducted into the Baseball Coaches Hall of Fame. Shipley Field was named in Coach Ship’s honor in 1956.

 

As the Terrapins inaugurate America’s Favorite Pasttime this spring, we celebrate and honor our baseball heritage and recognize the many accomplishments of the men who built the UMD baseball program.

Go Terps! Play! Ball!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Terps in Space, Episode II

Terps are often considered stellar students, but recent news about Jeanette Epps becoming a member of Expedition 56 to the International Space Station in 2018 really takes things to a new level.

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Jeanette Epps

After completing her undergrad at LeMoyne college in 1992, Epps received her Master’s of Science and Ph.D. (both in aerospace engineering) from UMD in 1994 and 2000, respectively. After graduate school, she worked with Ford Motor Company and later the CIA. Dr. Epps was selected as an astronaut in 2009.

Her participation in the expedition reserves her the honor of being the first African-American female to crew the International Space Station. The announcement of this momentous accomplishment came on the tail of the release of the movie Hidden Figures, a story about a talented group of African-American women tasked with the calculation of the trajectory of John Glenn’s orbit in space. Fun fact, John Glenn is involved in a bit of UMD history himself. Learn more about the connection here.

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Diamondback photo of Resnick

Though she is the most recent, Jeanette Epps is not the only astronaut to attend UMD. Judith Resnik, one of the astronauts who perished in the Challenger explosion, received a Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering from the University of Maryland in 1977.William “Willie” McCool, who died aboard the space shuttle Columbia, received his master’s degree in computer science from UMD in 1985. Paul Richards, a 1991 graduate with a master’s degree in mechanical engineering, participated in the  Discovery mission to the International Space Station. Richard “Ricky” Arnold II got his master’s in  Marine Biology from UMD in 1992. He was selected as a member of the 2004 class of astronaut recruits, and his first journey into space was aboard the space shuttle Discovery, on a February 2009 mission to the International Space Station.

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Richard Arnold II and the International Space Station

The University of Maryland can truly be proud of our Terps in space throughout the years. We congratulate Dr. Jeanette Epps on her new assignment, and we wish her well as she takes her place among the stars!

Rock Around the Clock!

In the fall of 2016, the UMD Archives received a terrific addition to the documentation of a landmark event in Terrapin football history, the January 2, 1956, Orange Bowl game vs. Oklahoma. UMD alumnus and former marching band member Carleton Weidemeyer donated the band’s halftime playlist and charts for the formations the band created on the field during the show. Featured tunes included “Yellow Rose of Texas,” “Wake the Town,” and “Rock Around the Clock,” and the band exited the field playing the “Maryland, My Maryland” march. The charts, shown here, capture the intricate and complicated shapes, made more complex with the addition of motion to some of the formations.

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1956-orange-bowl-vs-oklahomaMr. Weidemeyer’s gift complements the other materials the Archives has about this historic game, including the game day program and media relations file, a felt pennants, newspaper clippings, photographs, and footage from the game which you can view here as part of the highlights from the 1955 football season.

The UMD Archives is grateful to Mr. Weidemeyer for his donation, which helps re-create a special moment in Terrapin athletic history, 61 years ago today!

John Glenn – A Terp in Space

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1963 Terrapin yearbook

The University of Maryland has offered courses all over the world since 1949. Now those programs occur through the University of Maryland University College but, before the creation of that separate institution, the University of Maryland offered courses to members of the armed forces through some 400 outposts across the world. John Glenn, the fifth man in space and the first American to orbit the earth, as well as an Ohio senator, attended UMD through the Pentagon outpost in the late 1950s. Through this extended relationship with the university, we claim him as one of our most famous and treasured alumni.

The 1963 Terrapin yearbook was dedicated to John Glenn and his spectacular 1962 trip on the Friendship 7 mission to orbit the earth. The editors cleverly noted that his trip to space truly made the University of Maryland an “out of this world” institution.

After retiring from the astronaut corps in 1964, John Glenn eventually served four full terms as a Democratic senator for Ohio. At 77 years of age, Glenn returned to space aboard the Discovery shuttle on October 29, 1998. On this trip he achieved further notoriety as the oldest human to enter space.

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The 1963 Terrapin yearbook cover, dedicated to John Glenn

Americans remember John Glenn as their first man to orbit the earth – a pioneer of American frontiers like Lewis and Clark or the Wright brothers. He was part of a mission that, in 1962, totally revolutionized what humans thought was within the realm of possibility. John Glenn was the 1960s Charles Lindbergh – breaking boundaries that were thought to be impossible and paving the way for further exploration and technological innovation.

We are proud to call him a Terp, even if it was just for a little while.

“A Date Which Will Live in Infamy”

On this the 75th anniversary of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, we remember all the brave members of the University of Maryland community who gave their lives in the service of their country during World War II and highlight resources in the UMD Libraries’ Special Collections and University Archives that support study of that conflict.

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Dr. Gordon W. Prange in his office in the UMD History Dept.

The personal papers of Gordon W. Prange are one of the most frequently consulted collections in the UMD Archives. Dr. Prange (July 16, 1910 – May 15, 1980) was an historian and history professor at the University of Maryland from 1937 until his death in 1980. While teaching at Maryland, Prange published many books and articles on a variety of historical topics, but he is probably best known for his research on the attack on Pearl Harbor. Prange conducted interviews and collected accounts from diaries, articles, and correspondence with many of the key participants in the battle, both Japanese and American, as well as completing extensive research on the causes, planning, build-up to, execution, and consequences of the attack. The collection consists of both personal and professional papers and includes unpublished manuscripts, correspondence, interview notes and transcripts, research notes, articles, maps, and photographs related to Prange’s research on the attack on Pearl Harbor, the Battle of Midway, the Russian spy Richard Sorge, and the speeches of Adolf Hitler. There are also materials related to Prange’s tenure as a history professor at the University of Maryland and his service as an historian for the US Army under General Douglas MacArthur during the Allied occupation of Japan.

 

The Prange Papers were most recently used by NHK Television in Japan for a documentary on the life of Mitsuo Fuchida, the pilot who led the first airstrike against Pearl Harbor. This video aired on TV in Japan in August 2016; an English version of the same piece ran on PBS in Hawai’i two days ago.

The Gordon W. Prange Collection on the Allied Occupation of Japan, 1945-1949, an internationally known resource documenting life in post-war Japan, is named in Dr. Prange’s honor.

A selection of additional, World War II-related resources in the University of Maryland Libraries’ Special Collections and University Archives may be found in this subject guide: http://digital.lib.umd.edu/archivesum/rguide/wwii.jsp.

The University Archives’ Scrapbook Collection also includes a volume presented to the Alumni Association following the war, which includes a collection of newspaper clippings about University of Maryland alumni who fought in the war. Colonel John O’Neill, University of Maryland class of 1930, is the subject of several pages, with articles detailing his recommendation for a Distinguished Service Cross. In addition to the large collection of clippings about Maryland alumni in the armed services, there are numerous obituaries and notices of those missing-in-action. Similar coverage of Maryland students and alumni serving in the war can be found in the alumni magazines of the period, accessible via links on http://www.lib.umd.edu/univarchives/alumni-magazines, and in issues of The Diamondback, currently available on microfilm and soon to be accessible online.

The University Archives is also proud to preserve the University of Maryland Memorial Book, which contains a Roll of Honor listing the names of University of Maryland alumni who were killed in action in World War I, World War II, and the Korean War. The book was engraved by White House calligrapher and 1943 Maryland graduate William E. Tolley, and was dedicated at a service in Memorial Chapel on November 19, 1961. You may find the entirety of this moving tribute to these brave members of the campus community online at http://hdl.handle.net/1903.1/5024.

For more information about the resources described here, contact the University Archives at askhornbake@umd.edu or 301-405-9058.

Maryland Done a “Dirty Deal”

Ruth Finzel-cropAccording to the diary of 1930’s coed, Ruth Finzel, recently donated to the University of Maryland Archives, the Aggies football team got a “dirty deal” in their loss to the Naval Academy Middies 86 years ago today at Washington’s Griffith Stadium.

The Crab Bowl, as it is presently known, was played on November 22, 1930.  Notable attendees at the game included Charles F. Adams, Secretary of the Navy, Albert E. Ritchie, Maryland Governor, Sir Ronald Lindsay, British Ambassador, and Rear Adm. S.S. Robinson, Naval Academy Superintendent.  By many accounts, the 1930 game proved to be the first competitive contest of the series, with Navy scoring the only points on the second play of the game. The remaining 58 minutes were a defensive struggle

Here’s Ruth’s account of that football showdown:

“Norma, Jake, Morselly, Jane Smith and I went with Ruth Gilbert to the Navy game.  The girls wore chrysanthemums and ribbons to it [sic].  The traffic was terrible and Ruth was driving like wild.  Smacked into someone and nearly upset [sic] another time.  Parked way off.  Lost 6-0 by a dirty deal.  Kennedy came down with me for the last 10 minutes of the game and walked out with me.  He’s so cute.  I told him about my Iota Nu Delta date, so he told me about his.  I’m glad he had a punk time.  Went to bed early.

The dirty deal to which Ruth refers?  Check out the account of the game in The Diamondback: “Byrdmen Beaten by Kirn Plus Ten Men in Annapolis Fracas.  Adverse Decision Turns Possible Triumph into Defeat”

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This was the latest installment of an intense football rivalry  between two institutions close in proximity (30 miles) but many miles apart in cultural and institutional differences.  Play began in 1905, ended abruptly 60 years later, but was renewed in 2005.  Losing the first 8 games, Maryland finally won in 1931, the season after Ruth graduated.  One of the highlights of this long series is the September 30, 1951, game at which Byrd Stadium, now known as Maryland Stadium, was dedicated. The Terps topped the Middies, 35-21, that day, and UMD Heisman Trophy runner-up Jack Scarbath scored the first touchdown in the new stadium. A total of 21 games have been played with an overall record of 14 Navy wins to Maryland’s 7.

Jack Scarbath 1st touchdown in Byrd
Scarbath scores!

Historically, the in-state rivalry was fueled by what some young men perceived as the coeds’ attraction to nattily-attired Midshipmen in their handsome uniforms over the more typical casual appearance and behavior of men on the Maryland campus.  There was also an enduring grudge borne out of a single-finger gesture made by a Maryland linebacker after tackling Navy QB Roger Staubach, during a narrow Maryland victory, 27-22, in 1964.  Consequently, the Maryland-Navy competition was suspended for 40 years by Navy.

Here’s a selection of program covers from some of our contests against the Middies:

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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! You can find her account of the 1930 May Day fun with Zingaree and the Gypsies here.

Student Life in the 1870s–new acquisition

“As a general thing we have stale bread, butter & meat (beef) that is hardly fit to eat, for breakfast.” So reported Maryland Agricultural College student Percy Davidson in a March 6, 1871, letter home to his mother, recently donated to the UMD Archives. Some things never change–like college students complaining about the food in the dining hall…

Davidson’s comment and a number of other interesting observations really capture what life was like at the Agricultural College in the early 1870s. He reports on student dress, his daily study routine, and his efforts to avoid “boys that I think would injure my good morals.” Davidson also asks his mother to send some “eatibles,” another necktie for Sundays, and a pair of slippers and comments on previous news from home.

Such early student commentary is rare, so this brief letter is especially valuable, and the UMD Archives is delighted to add this gem to its collections.

Try your hand at reading the letter. If you struggle a bit, the transcription appears below.

You can also stop by the Archives during our open hours and see the letter in person. Hope you will pop in soon.

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Md. Agrl. College

Feb. March 6, 1871

My Dear Mamma

I received your letter a few moments ago I hasten to answer it.

I have two neckties but one is hardly fit for use & I should like very much to have another one for Sundays.

Papa told me when he was out here that I was looking badly & attributes it to want of exercise, but I think the reason is that we never get a change of diet, we have the same thing over & over again, & sometimes dont [sic] get enough of what we do have. It is a very rare thing for the butter or vegetables to pass around. As a general thing we have stale bread, butter & meat (beef) that is hardly fit to eat, for breakfast.

As I do not drink tea or coffee Mrs. Regester gives me a glass of milk for breakfast & supper.

We have supper at 5 o’clock & the bell rings at 6 to study. I study until about 9 1/2 or 10, but I never stay up later unless I have a harder lesson than usual to study, but since Dr. Regester has stopped us from using lamps or candles after the bell rings to go to bed I never stay up later than 10.

Boys hardly ever congregate in my room especially bad boys. I never voluntarily associate with boys that I think would injure my good morals.

I hope I have answered your questions satisfactorily for I have told you nothing but the plain truth, Mamma.

I would like very much to have the eatibles that you mentioned & also some hard-tack & anything at all that would be the most convenient for you to get, but please don’t put yourself to any extra trouble for me, for I expect my visit home will compensate for anything that I dont [sic] get out here.

I would like to have a pair of slippers to put on in the morning when I get up  & at night while I am studying.

Most of the boys out here have got them.

Sister told me in one of her letters that you had a tremendous Newfoundland but she didn’t tell me its name or anything about it. Has sister got her little dog still. Tell Papa I received my suit of clothes a few days ago & they fit me splendidly. I have now got good suits of clothes including my uniform. I am glad to hear that Frankie talks & maybe he will send me a message soon.

I hope when you move you will be able to get a better house than the one which you now occupy for I know you are tired of being all cramped up.

Hoping to be with you soon & anticipating a happy meeting I remain your devoted son

Percy Davidson