235 year-old gift to UMD

A very special piece of the UMD Libraries’ Special Collections and University Archives turns 235 years old in 2016–the grandfather clock that stands outside the Maryland Room on the first floor of Hornbake Library.

Alma clock_crop 2Wyke and Green, clockmakers in Liverpool, England, constructed this beautiful timepiece in 1781. How it reached the United States is unknown. Charles Sink, horologist and owner of the Antique Clock & Watch Shop in Ellicott City, MD, cleaned and restored the inner workings of this piece in 2008. Retired UMD Libraries’ staff member Roy Alvarez covered the expenses for Sink’s work in honor of his parents, Hugh and Emilie Alvarez, and faithfully winds the clock each week. During your visits to Hornbake, you can hear the beautiful chimes when the clock strikes the hour.

Why would such an unusual and historic piece have a home in the library? The clock is a gift in memory of former Registrar Alma Preinkert, who was tragically murdered in her home on February 28, 1954, one of the university’s unsolved mysteries.

Alma Preinkert from 1954 yrbk_cropMiss Preinkert, a much-beloved campus figure, earned an M.A. degree from Maryland as served as assistant registrar and registrar for nearly 30 years. On that fateful night, a burglar broke into the Washington, DC, home Preinkert shared with her sister and began ransacking the bedrooms. The commotion awakened Miss Preinkert, and she attempted to stop the man, aided by her sister, Alvina, who also awoke during the struggle. The burglar stabbed Alma Preinkert 11 times before fleeing, and her sister was wounded as well. Alvina survived, but Alma’s wounds were fateful. Despite an intensive search for the burglar, during which police questioned 2,500 men and detained multiple suspects, and the offer of $1500 in reward money, the perpetrator was never captured, and this case remains a UMD unsolved mystery.

The University Archives has numerous newspaper clippings about Alma Preinkert’s murder and recently obtained a copy of the DC Police report and reward flyer to add to the file. Stop by the Archives and check it out, if you want to learn more about the case.

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Miss Preinkert’s death saddened many across the campus, and classes were cancelled so students could attend her funeral on March 3, the first one ever held in Memorial Chapel, which had  been dedicated only 15 months earlier. So many people wished to attend the service that the Chapel was filled to capacity, and the overflow of students, faculty, and staff stood outside in the rain to listen to the proceedings.

To memorialize Miss Preinkert, the Maryland Federation of Women’s Clubs and a group of her friends of donated the clock in 1958, four years after the Board of Regents renamed the Women’s Fieldhouse in her honor.

The next time you are in Hornbake, plan to arrive near the hour so you can hear the delicate chimes as the clock strikes and visit the unusual and historic memorial.








Trick Question

When did our student newspaper start publishing?

A. 1910
B. 1914
C. 1916
D. 1919
E. 1920
F. 1921

You may have guessed F, since the first issue of The Diamondback appeared on June 9, 1921. Actually, the answer is all of the above! Each of these years represents an important landmark in the history of the university’s primary student newspaper, The Diamondback.

The Diamondback had a number of predecessors:

A. January 1910 (The Triangle)
B. October 1914 (M.A.C. Weekly)
C. October 1916 (Maryland State Weekly)
D. February 1919 (Maryland State Review)
E. October 1920 (The University Review)
F. June 1921 (The Diamondback)

You could also have guessed 1894. A small paper named The Cadet’s Review began publication in spring 1894 for the Maryland Agricultural College (one of the previous names of UMD) but is not considered a direct predecessor of The Diamondback.

All of these papers, with the exception of The Cadet’s Review, are currently accessible on microfilm in the University Archives’ Maryland Room; The Cadet’s Review is available in hard copy. The University Archives has embarked on a digitization project to make The Diamondback and its predecessors available online, and graduate student assistant Jen Wachtel is recording information about over 100 years of issues on microfilm in preparation for our upcoming user-friendly interface. We look forward to posting future updates about the project, including Jen’s discoveries along the way. We hope you enjoyed the New Year’s post about the first issue of The Triangle in from 1910. Now, take a look at the first front pages of the other predecessor papers in our holdings!

This is the first post in a series of features on important and interesting stories in The Diamondback that we’re compiling as part of our project to digitize The Diamondback. #digiDBK

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ABC’s of UMD: Letter H

H is for HORNBAKE!

Hornbake Library, the home of the UMD Libraries’ Special Collections and University Archives, originally opened in 1972 as the Undergraduate Library. The building was re-named for Dr. R. Lee Hornbake in 1980. Dr. Hornbake began his career at the university as a faculty member in the Department of Industrial Education and rose through the ranks of the administration to become vice president for academic affairs for the University of Maryland System, the position he held at the time of his retirement in 1979.

Dr. Hornbake in front of Hornbake Library
Dr. Hornbake in front of Hornbake Library

In his letter recommending the name change, Dr. George Callcott, professor of history and former Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs, described Hornbake as a “consistent spokesman of the finest academic values” and as “a major force within the University, some would say the primary force, for personal integrity, for service to students, and for scholarly excellence.” He was the person to whom University of Maryland presidents and other campus colleagues turned in times of great challenge, and he continued to serve the university in many high-profile capacities even after his retirement.

Hornbake Library houses the Libraries’ manuscripts, rare books, resources on the state of Maryland, the Gordon W. Prange Collection, the University Archives, Library Media Services, and other special collections. Many of these treasures are quite rare or are, in some cases, unique in the world.

This is the eighth post in our series on Terrapin Tales called ABC’s of UMD! Posts will come out twice a week, on Mondays and Fridays, throughout the semester. If you want to learn more about campus history, check back weekly to see what we’ve picked to highlight, and you can also visit our encyclopedia University of Maryland A to Z: MAC to Millennium for more UMD facts.

Do you have other ABC’s about campus? Let us know in the comments below!

You can click here to continue onto the Letter I!