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.
Today, the University of Maryland hosts its second annual Social Justice Day, a campus-wide event for faculty, staff, students, and the community. After a day-long series of events and discussions on important social justice issues, featuring a morning keynote speech from Innocence Project Co-Founder Peter Neufeld, the Reverend Jesse Jackson will deliver a closing keynote speech in the Memorial Chapel. University Archives welcomes Reverend Jackson back to campus by revisiting his previous appearances through Diamondback articles accessed from our Student Newspapers database.
“Jackson supporters rally on campus,” – The Diamondback, April 5, 1984
“Jesse Jackson supporters rally here,” – The Diamondback, April 5, 1984
“Jackson bringing his act to Cole field house stage,” – The Diamondback, April 23, 1984
“Reaction mixed to Jackson visit,” – The Diamondback, April 23, 1984
Front Page of the Diamondback – April 25, 1984
“The rainbow lands here, but the colors fade quickly,” – The Diamondback, April 23, 1984
Reverend Jackson has appeared on campus multiple times, the first on April 24, 1985, at Cole Field House, as part of his state primary presidential campaign. Ahead of Jackson’s visit to campus, Chancellor John Slaughter said Jackson “clearly demonstrated to the country that he’s a person of great sensitivity and compassion. He’s a very articulate and thoughtful spokesman on a number of issues, not only on civil rights and human rights, but economics and foreign policy.”
Jackson supporters began rallying several weeks earlier in the Nyumburu Cultural Center on April 4. “The fundamental reason we have to support Reverend Jackson is economic democracy. Our economy is being undermined by corporations. We’ve got to hold them accountable,” said Alvin Thornton, Jackson’s state issues coordinator. Ahead of Jackson’s first appearance, student reactions were mixed. “This rally is not a University of Maryland, College Park deal: it’s statewide,” said Michael White, sophomore computer science major and coordinator for Jackson supporters on campus. “There are a lot of things I don’t like about it, but that’s the way it has been run by the state campaign.” Members of the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) also anticipated Jackson’s appearance. Campus treasurer Sally Davies considered Jackson’s rally “very historic,” saying it was the first time they requested leave for the entire University of Maryland system. “Jesse Jackson speaks for all the poor and working people,” said campus AFSCME Vice President William Swain. Chancellor Slaughter supported the gesture, expecting department heads to grant leave to employees requesting to attend the rally. “It is through such appearances that citizens of the state are able to make informed political decisions, and such democratic processes should be encouraged whenever possible,” said Slaughter.
Although Jackson’s campaign expected a crowd of 15,000 at Cole Field House, Jackson spoke to a crowd of between 2,000 to 5,000 people. “We need more than a new president, we need a new direction. It’s time for a change,” said Jackson during his speech. For Jackson, this ‘new’, ‘right’ direction included both higher corporate taxes and national health care. During his speech, Reverend Jackson said things such as “in a nuclear age, we cannot fight it out, we must think it out,” and, promoting his progressive tax plan, “those who make the most should pay the most.” The audience, repeatedly interrupting Jackson with applause, responded with a standing ovation, chanting “Win, Jesse! Win!” Regarding the underwhelming turnout, state campaign coordinator Sherman Roberson challenged Ronald Reagan and other opposing candidates to “pick a Tuesday, come here and do what we did.” During Jackson’s rally, Chancellor Slaughter also provided a red-and-white Terrapin jacket, which Jackson immediately donned.
“Jackson tells crowd to exercise the vote,”& “Draft issue loses ground to defense,” – The Diamondback, September 26, 1984
“Reagan policies hurt poor, Jackson says,” & “Students name defense ‘priority’ issue this year,” – The Diamondback, September 26, 1984
Jackson returned to campus later that year on September 25, sponsored by Alpha Phi Alpha and the campus chapter of the NAACP. Standing on a chair, Jackson told a crowd at the Hornbake Library plaza, “from womb to tomb, you are in the political process. You have no capacity to escape your political responsibilities,” adding “if you want to go to graduate school and not to war, you must give peace a chance and give Reagan a ranch.” Reverend Jackson also emphasized the importance of education, stating “schools and teachers at their worst are better than jail and jail wardens at their best.” In Jackson’s second appearance, he seemed “more animated and in lighter spirits” than his previous visit, when he was “guarded by a phalanx of Secret Service officers.”
“Fans, friends bid hero fond farewell,” – The Diamondback, June 26, 1986
“Bias tribute draws 11,000,” – The Diamondback, June 26, 1986
Reverend Jackson returned to campus briefly on June 23, 1986, for the public memorial service for Maryland basketball star Len Bias. Jackson’s remarks began with a request for a round of applause for Bias, in which the audience responded with a two and a half-minute standing ovation. “You cannot judge Lenny, or any other player, on the basis of his last shot,” Jackson told the crowd of 11,000 at Cole Field House.
“Jackson rallies troops,” – The Diamondback, March 7, 1988
“Jackson calls on 500 here for action,” and “Restless crowd waits hours for the Jesse Jackson show,” – The Diamondback, March 7, 1988
Returning to campus at Ritchie Coliseum on Saturday March 5, 1988, while campaigning for president, days before Super Tuesday, Reverend Jackson spoke to a crowd of roughly 600 who had waited for him for over four hours, promoting corporate taxation and addressing issues such as the War on Drugs.
“Jackson to promote voter registration,” – The Diamondback, February 3, 1992
“If you want jobs…vote about it,” – The Diamondback, February 4, 1992
“In the dark?” – The Diamondback, February 4, 1992
“All eyes open,” – The Diamondback, February 10, 1992
“Jackson calls for change,” – The Diamondback, October 14, 1992
Jackson spoke on campus twice in 1992, the first time on February 3, at the Hardee’s in Stamp Student Union, to promote voter registration as part of a Rainbow Coalition nationwide effort to empower students through voter registration drives. “Every vote counts. Whenever young Americans have come alive, America has always been made better,” said Jackson. “You are empowered if you have the will to use that strength. If you want jobs when you graduate, vote about it. If you want better housing, vote about it.” After Jackson’s speech, a voter drive registered 242 students. Eight months later, he returned to Stamp in the Colony Ballroom, where he told a crowd of roughly 400 students to support Bill Clinton and Al Gore in the upcoming presidential election. Before his speech and discussion, Jackson watched the Vice Presidential debate with the audience. “Students must identify their interests,” Jackson told the audience. “If their interests are in more scholarships and more aid and less tuition; if their interest is in the American economy and putting people back to work in a cleaner, healthier environment; interest in choice for women, then there must be a one-term limit put on the Bush-Quayle administration.”
Has it really been 26 years since Reverend Jesse Jackson has spoke on campus? Seems hard to believe. We welcome him back to the University of Maryland and look forward to his message as part of Social Justice Day.
Tonight, as part of the College of Arts and Humanities’ “2017-18 Dean’s Lecture Series: Courageous Conversations, ARHU Resists Hate And Bias,” the University of Maryland welcomes the return of Bobby Seale! A career political activist, Seale co-founded the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense with Huey P. Newton in October 1966. Seale will present “Resistance: From the Sixties to Trump,” which will be followed by a book signing and reception.
This will be Bobby Seale’s third time speaking on campus. Seale first spoke on campus at Ritchie Coliseum on February 3rd, 1972. “If you want to wage a revolutionary struggle in this country it is necessary to move forward to feed and clothe the people,” said Seale, to a crowd of 700 people. Seale’s first lecture centered around the Black Panther Party, and he addressed rumors of defection within the party, their primary objectives, and widely debated use of guns for self-defense. For Seale, a primary goal of the Black Panther Party was “to teach and educate the masses of the people,” and that guns were “not the power, but are tools to be used in particular times for particular reasons.”
Event Flyer from the February 2, 1972 issue of the Diamondback
Lecture summary from the February 7, 1972 issue of the Diamondback.
Event advertisement from the February 8, 1974 issue.
Lecture summary from the February 12, 1974 issue of the Diamondback.
The 2017-2018 Arts and Humanities Dean’s Lecture Series will conclude with a lecture from award-winning journalist and NPR correspondent, Mara Liasson on Wednesday April 11, 2018 at the Gildenhorn Recital Hall in the Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center. For more information and to RSVP for tonight’s Bobby Seale lecture, click here. For more information on the 2017-2018 Arts and Humanities Dean’s Lecture Series, click here.
Sixty years ago today, Queen Elizabeth II visited the University of Maryland to attend her first and only college football game on October 19, 1957, between the Maryland Terrapins and the North Carolina Tar Heels! While touring Canada and the United States, the Queen wanted to see a typical American sport, and with College Park’s close proximity to Washington, DC, University President Elkins notified Governor McKeldin, who wrote Sir Harold Caccia, Ambassador of Great Britain, inviting Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip to attend a football game at the University of Maryland!
Letter from President Elkins urging Governor McKeldin to invite Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip to the football game.
Letter from Governor McKeldin to Sir Harold Caccia, the Ambassador of Great Britain, inviting Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip to the football game.
How did the university prepare for the Queen? How did students view the Queen’s visit to campus? How did students view the university at the time of the Royal Visit?
In preparation of the Queen’s game, university carpenters constructed a special box for the Queen and her party to view the game, while the University of Maryland’s “Black & Gold” band also took over the ROTC drill field to begin preparing for a “typical” half-time show. “They are making room for almost 140 extra press photographers, and newspapers all over the country will carry pictures of her here at Maryland,” said SGA President Howard Miller ahead of the game, suggesting that the Queen’s visit would bring additional publicity and prestige to the university. Additionally, Miller recalled that the SGA met with the State Department ahead of the game to discuss where the Queen should sit. The SGA suggested that she sit on the North Carolina side so she could watch the Card section at half-time and because alcohol consumption at Maryland football games was considered “a major sport in the 1950s.”
The issue of the Diamondback before the royal visit was predominantly dedicated to the Queen’s visit. On behalf of the student body, faculty, and administration, the Diamondback extended a “most enthusiastic welcome,” to the Queen and royal party, seeing the Queen’s visit as an opportunity to “strengthen the good will existing between the United States and Great Britain,” trusting that the Queen will find as much entertainment and excitement during her stay as the university will. Speaking for “just about everybody” on campus, the Queen’s visit was highly anticipated, something the university was collectively very proud of. Anticipating the game, SGA President Howard Miller felt the Queen’s visit was “the greatest thrill of my life,” President Elkins thought the Queen’s visit “created more interest in any college or university than anything I have ever seen in my lifetime,” adding that the University is “delighted” to host the Queen. When addressing the possibility of any “unfortunate events” occurring during the Queen’s visit, President Elkins warned students: “If there is any question, one ought not to do it!”
How were students supposed to behave? If encountering the Queen and Prince Philip, were there specific codes of conduct to follow? The State Department suggested how to behave if students should be presented before the Queen. For students, “how do you do?” was considered a suitable greeting, suggesting that students address the Queen and Prince Philip as “madam,” or “sir,” instead of “Queen,” or “Prince.”
Student editorial in the Diamondback explaining how students saw the University of Maryland at the time of the Queen’s visit.
Diamondback article expressing the excitement and magnitude of the Royal Visit to College Park.
“Meeting the Queen?” The State Department provided suggestions for how students should address the Queen, and how Maryland’s band should perform. Diamondback, 10-18-57.
And then, on Game Day, Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip arrived at Byrd Stadium around 1:15pm. All fans were asked to be in their seats by 1pm to await the royal arrival. Maryland halfback and co-captain Jack Healy recalled posing for photographs before meeting the Queen. “Naturally, we were nervous and this increased the pressure somewhat,” said Healy, but their nerves were eased by a welcoming Prince Philip, who, with a “Hello sparkle,” in his eyes, extended his hand and introduced himself to the team. Then, according to Healy, the team met Queen Elizabeth, who “looked like any typical American woman,” only distinguished by her “precious English accent.” Each team’s captains then presented the Queen and Prince Philip with an autographed football and a replica of the coin used in the game’s coin toss. Prince Philip, “humbly accepting” the autographed football, said “I feel like kicking it myself!”
During the game, the Queen “leaned forward eagerly” as the Governors and President Elkins explained American football to their royal guests. According to President Elkins, the Queen was “most interested in the difference between the English Rugby and the American game.” According to a commonwealth correspondent from the game, “if the Queen understands this game, she’s smarter than I think she is.”
Game Day Program
Game Day Ticket Stub
43,000 fans greeting Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip
Queen Elizabeth II with Governor McKeldin and team captains from your Maryland Terrapins and North Carolina Tar Heels for the pre-game coin toss.
And then, at halftime, after the teams rushed off the field, the North Carolina band presented “A Parade of North Carolina Industries,” highlighted by band members forming a giant banjo, while trumpeting “Dixie.” According to President Elkins’ daughter Carole, there was a ceremony with gift presentations, the Queen and Prince Philip were driven around the stadium’s track, and marching bands from both teams performed. The bands from both schools joined to form the Queen’s crest, spell out “USA-BRIT”, and perform each school’s alma mater, “God Save the Queen,” and the “Star Spangled Banner.” The card section displayed both the American and British flags. Queen Elizabeth II, commenting on “the drive of the band,” was also “quite pleased with the card section,” according to President Elkins.
Maryland’s “Black and Gold” band forming the Royal Cypher as part of their halftime show.
Maryland’s card section during the “Black and Gold” band’s halftime performance.
According to Howard Miller’s account of the Queen’s Game, with only minutes left in the 4th quarter, the announcer at Byrd Stadium asked the crowd to remain in their seats so the Queen and Prince Philip could leave first to attend dinner with President Eisenhower. The Queen’s motorcade entered the stadium, and the Queen left before “a full house broke for the exits.” Miller recalled “never had so many Marylanders showed so much courtesy.” Nick Kovalakides, class of ’61, who was unable to attend the game due to illness, was listening to the game on the radio while recovering in his Montgomery Hall dorm, when he heard that the Queen was leaving early “to avoid the crunch of fans after the game.” Hearing this, Kovalakides went outside in case the Queen’s motorcade traveled on Regents Drive past Montgomery Hall. As Kovalakides sat on the steps, feeling “like everyone else in the world was at the game except me,” the Queen’s motorcade appeared over the hill. Seeing the Queen in the back seat of the limo, Kovalakides stood and waved. The Queen waved back. Remembering the event, Kovalakides said “in seconds, she was gone. But not in my mind.”
As the game ended, the triumphant Terps hoisted Coach Tommy Mont on their shoulders and ran across the field to where the Queen was seated. When presented to the Queen, she replied by saying “wonderful, wonderful.” For Coach Mont, immediately after the win he said “I’m going to revel in this for the rest of my life.” In the issue following the game, the Diamondback selected the entire Maryland football team as Players-of-the-Week.
Photographs and artifacts from the Queen’s Game are on display in McKeldin Library through January 2018. Be sure to check out our exhibit cases on the first floor, near Footnotes Cafe! We’ve decorated the second floor Portico Room (across the walkway from the Terrapin Tech Desk) with images from the game as well.
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.
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.
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.
The 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.
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.
The University of Maryland, like many educational institutions, has a complicated history of race relations. For a long while, the university didn’t allow African American students on campus, due in large part to President Harry Clifton Byrd’s fight against integration.
The university finally integrated in 1950 after the Board of Regents decided to admit Parren Mitchell, who had sued for admission to the graduate school. Even after the 1954 Brown v. Board of Education Supreme Court decision that required integration at public schools, the university saw only a minimal increase in the minority student population.
In the early 1960s, when the Civil Rights Movement was gaining steam, African American voices began to be heard more on campus. Between the inception of numerous cultural clubs and Civil Rights protests like those held by the Black Student Union on the steps of the administration building, the university took more notice of the African American struggle.
In January 1967, The Diamondback ran a series of articles to chronicle the African American experience for a wider audience. The series delved into issues of racial tension, exclusion, and perpetuation of stereotypes.
According to the student paper, racial issues declined after the Brown v. Board of Education decision was handed down. The university modified its admissions forms to remove questions of race, and the Residence Hall Association said they handled roommate complaints based on racial differences just as they would between any two people.
One article also discussed the struggles of many minority students to secure off-campus housing. In one anecdote included in the story, a group of young black men submitted their security deposit, heard nothing back for a month, and when they called back, they were put on hold perpetually, so while issues were decreasing, they certainly weren’t resolved.
Other stories within this series discussed the pre-conceived notions that white students held. Some of these pre-conceptions made meeting fellow students difficult, and dating was especially hard for black women, who said they felt more ostracized than black men in dating circles.
There were also the obstacles presented by Greek life, a predominantly white subset of the student population.
Some students felt so out of place on campus that they expressed to the paper how it was one of the first times that they truly felt different. Many students said they struggled to communicate with teachers and fellow students because of those differences.
Through this series of articles in January 1967, The Diamondback helped bring some of the important racial issues of the day to its readers. These reports provide a critical window into the past that allows the campus community to assess progress on these topics over the past 40 years and determine future actions to improve diversity and inclusion at UMD.
The Diamondback is the university’s primary student newspaper, and its coverage of campus events provides an invaluable perspective on the university’s history. Thanks to generous donations and a successful Launch UMD campaign, the University Archives is digitizing the entire run of the newspaper, which is currently available on microfilm in the University Archives and McKeldin Library. This post is the part of a series based on information collected during the Diamondback Digitization Project. Check out the Twitter hashtag #digiDBK or the DigiDBK tag on our Terrapin Tales blog for previous posts. Look out for more DigiDBK posts from our team throughout the coming months!
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!