Historical Item Analysis: Admission of Hiram Whittle

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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: 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.

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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.

1967 Diamondback Series on racial issues

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.

Screen Shot 2017-03-13 at 3.19.49 PMIn January 1967, The Diamondback ran a series of articles to chronicle the African American experience for a Racial Issues Downwider 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. 

StereotypesOther 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 First time I felt negroexpressed 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!

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!

 

A trip down memory lane to the Terps 2004 ACC title

Front PageWith the Terrapins hosting the Big Ten Tournament in Washington, D.C., this weekend, we thought we’d take a trip down memory lane to the last time the Terps won their conference tournament: 2004.

Maryland, led by guards D.J. Strawberry and John Gilchrist, struggled for much of the season and finished with a 7-9 record within the ACC, good enough for only the No. 6 seed.


Their path through the tournament required that they defeat the conference’s three best teams: No. 17 NC State, No. 15 Wake Forest, and rival No.5 Duke. Over the course of the 2003-04 season the Terps were a combined 0-5 against those teams.

In addition, the tournament was held in Greensboro, North Carolina, essentially home games for all three of those teams.

Sports FrontSo, while many experts didn’t expect the Terps to win, Coach Gary Williams’ squad believed in themselves.

They narrowly defeated the No. 15 Demon Deacons by one point in the first game before overcoming a 19-point deficit against the No. 17 Wolfpack to win the very next day behind a career-high 30 points from Gilchrist.

That Sunday the Terps faced No. 5 Duke, a team they had already lost to twice that season. The two teams battled intensely, and, after a tied score in regulation, they headed into overtime for the right to an automatic bid into the NCAA Tournament.

The Terps outscored Duke 18-10 in the extra session and ended the Blue Devils’ quest for a fifth consecutive tournament title. Gilchrist notched 26 points, earning him tournament MVP honors and giving the program their first conference tournament title since 1984, when they were led by coach Lefty Driesell and forward Len Bias.CanerMedley celebrates

While the fans who made the trip to Greensboro chanted “Gary! Gary!” as he cut down the nets, students in College Park once again took to the streets in ecstasy.

After the victory, the Terps entered the NCAA Tournament as the No. 4 seed. They would beat Texas El-Paso in the first round before falling to Syracuse in their next game.

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!

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.

epps_jeanette
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!