Historical Item Analysis: Mercer Literary Society Minutes

calvert
Charles Benedict Calvert, 1808-1864

When Charles Benedict Calvert died on May 12, 1864, the Maryland Agricultural College (MAC) lost its founder and one of its strongest supporters. As an advocate for the college, Calvert played a key role in obtaining MAC’s charter from the Maryland General Assembly, canvassing in support of the institution and fundraising to launch it. As a result, his death shook the MAC community.

Upon his death, the Mercer Literary Society, one of the college’s earliest student groups, honored him at its regular meeting. The meeting minutes pictured below show the society’s Resolution on the Death of Charles Benedict Calvert, dated May 14, 1864. The society expresses “warmest feelings of respect and sympathy to his bereaved family” and writes that Calvert was a “neighbor, benefactor and friend.” The meeting then adjourned immediately out of respect for Calvert and his family. These minutes offer a unique perspective into how the student body reacted to Calvert’s death.

To learn more about the Mercer Literary Society or Charles Benedict Calvert, visit the websites below, or stop by the Maryland Room in Hornbake Library to see these historical items for yourself.

http://hdl.handle.net/1903.1/1658

https://umdarchives.wordpress.com/tag/charles-benedict-calvert/

This is the tenth and last entry 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.

Historical Item Analysis: Admission of Hiram Whittle

A6_hiram whittle
Hiram Whittle with his fellow residents of Temporary Dorm One.

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.

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.

Historical Item Analysis: Performance Gear, circa 1920s

Uniform_06042014_0396In 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.

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.

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.

Historical Item Analysis: 19th-Century Student Register

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.

first page of 1859 student register
First page of the MAC student register, 1859.

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.

Historical Item Analysis: We’ve Always Been a Basketball School

Before there was Melo Trimble, even before there was Greivis Vasquez, and definitely before there was Tom McMillen, the University of Maryland Terrapins played incredible basketball in Cole Field House, formally known as the Cole Student Activities Building.

first bball in Cole programThe first game played in the arena, second in size to Madison Square Garden at the time, was a men’s basketball game between the University of Maryland and the University of Virginia on December 2, 1955. The program from this game still exists today and is kept in the University Archives. There are several beautiful pages in color, including the cover and the scoring sheets, which were sponsored by Coca-Cola. Some of the most interesting parts of the program are the various advertisements that exist throughout. There are advertisements for everything from “The Pizza Hut” to cigarettes to “Lansburgh’s,” which was a men’s clothing store that sold the “College Classics.” The program sold for a mere 35 cents, which wouldn’t even buy you a bottle of water at today’s games. And just like the Terrapins do today, they won that game, 67-55, over the Virginia Cavaliers.

Written by Samantha Waldenberg, this is the sixth 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.

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.

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.

Historical Item Analysis: Board of Trustees Minutes

When you think about the cool historical items housed in the University Archives, maybe you think about the original Testudo or the old freshmen beanies. You probably don’t think that meeting minutes would be that exciting. However, these notes often tell us a great deal about the history of the university, with some Maryland-famous cameos to boot.

trustees minutes pageOne example of such a collection is the minutes of the Board of Trustees of the Maryland Agricultural College (the institution which ultimately became present-day UMD) from 1912 to 1916. Picking up only days after the fire that destroyed the two largest buildings on campus, the minutes provide valuable insight into the mindset of the campus community, and their resolve to continue with their educational mission. The minutes record that “…the sentiment and great desire of the students, patrons, and Professors was that the work should go on uninterrupted if possible…”

Careful readers will also recognize the names of H. J. Patterson, who was president of the college from 1913 to 1917 and whose name now graces a building on the Mall, and one “Mr. Byrd,” athletics enthusiast and later university president Harry Clifton “Curley” Byrd, who succeeded in getting the Board to agree to pay for the replacement of college athletic gear lost in the fire out of the university’s insurance funds. The minutes also mention the Trustees’ resolution, apparently without much incident, to allow women to take college classes, and the Board’s condemnation of hazing, which was punishable by expulsion. This last issue is especially illuminating in terms of illustrating how issues that were relevant on campus over 100 years ago remain so today.

You can find the entire run of the Trustees’ minutes during this four-year period online in University AlbUM to learn more about the college’s recovery from the devastating 1912 fire and its progress toward becoming the University of Maryland.

This is the third 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.

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.

Historical Item Analysis: Crawling onto Campus: The Auzoux Silkworm

silkworm caterpillarWhile perhaps not as beloved as the Archives’ taxidermied Testudo, Louis Thomas Jerome Auzoux’s stunning papier-mache model of a larger-than-life silkworm larva deserves plenty of admiration in its own right. The exquisitely hand-crafted and painted model seems to defy time itself, and many would be incredulous to find out that a piece in such great condition was assembled all the way back in the 1880s in a Paris workshop! While the study of silkworms was arguably more material to the early student-farmers of the Maryland Agricultural College, this amazing model still serves an important function on campus today. In a world that is increasingly trending towards technology of all kinds at a faster and faster pace, this model connects us to our roots here in College Park and reminds us that even before every student accomplished a majority of their work using some sort of advanced technology, this institution was still a place of higher learning.

The quality and detail of this silkworm challenges our understanding of education in the late 19th century and proves that the University of Maryland’s excellence in 2017 and beyond has deep origins in the ability of our predecessor institution to provide its students with a stellar education. With this in mind, the Auzoux model deserves an eternal place in our university community, because we can only move forward by remembering our beginnings.

Written by Luke Harley, this is the first 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.