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.


New additions to digital football footage

This week, we added 185 football reels to the University Archives’ digital collections site, University AlbUM. The reels, which were professionally repaired and converted to digital, comprise the third batch of the archives’ successful football film preservation and access project.

The additions contain portions of 41 football games and one scrimmage, spanning from 1965 to 1988. Reels of particular interest include five games from the football team’s undefeated regular season in 1976 and several close matchups against Big Ten rival Penn State.

With the new films uploaded, we now have 965 reels of digitized football footage available to stream online for free. Simply search for “football film” in University AlbUM to browse all reels. You can add in a year to view games from a particular season (ex. football film 1975) or an opponent to see past games against a specific team (ex. football film Miami).

Use the search field to find UMD football film in University AlbUM

Please email askhornbake@umd.edu if you are interested in ordering DVDs of the footage, at a cost of $10 per game — a great gift idea for the Terp fan in your house!

The Cadets’ Review

cadets-review-title-page-vol-3-no-5The Cadets’ Review is just one of thousands of unique pieces of history held in the University Archives at the University of Maryland. Now fully digitized and available online, The Cadets’ Review is a twelve-issue, small-format newspaper written and published by Maryland Agricultural College students and faculty from February 1894 to March 1896. This newspaper was one of the main predecessors to The Diamondback, today’s independent, student-run newspaper which began as The Triangle in 1910. Columns in this early newspaper covered all aspects of student life, including current events, athletics, military business, humor, and even suggestions to get involved in Glee Club.

One of our favorite columns written comes from the March 1895 issue. “Some Curious Old Laws of Maryland” discusses the bizarre, early-Maryland codification of laws. For example, because tobacco held monetary value, criminals were fined in pounds of harvested tobacco.




Using explicit language was another punishable offense in early Maryland– a law that would be frequently broken today.



may-1894-well-read-individualsAnother one of our favorite columns appears in the May 1894 issue. “Wasted Hours,”authored by S.T. Rollins, calculates the exact amount of time needed to become “well-read individuals.”

If you devote an hour of your time each day to reading the digitized version The Cadets’ Review via the University Archives website, you can learn a lot about what life was like for cadets early on in our university’s history.

Check out other fully digitized resources from the Archives if you are interested in learning more about additional student publications, course catalogs, UMD athletic guides, the Greek community yearbook The Frieze, Major League Baseball Rulebooks, or University AlbUM. Come visit us in the Maryland Room too, which is open Monday-Friday and on Sunday afternoons. Here you can work with documents and artifacts from the University Archives. We can’t wait to see you in Hornbake Library!

Diamondback Reporting on Famous Visitors

Members of the University of Maryland community know that the campus often invites world-famous people to campus, from writers (e.g. Ralph Ellison, author of The Invisible Man, in 1974) to queens (Queen Elizabeth II in 1957). These visitors often draw large crowds and facilitate campus dialogue, and The Diamondback, as the primary student newspaper on campus, provides invaluable insights into these historic campus visits.

Gus Grissom
Gus Grissom addresses students

Fifty-two years ago, on March 10, 1964, in the midst of the Space Race, the university invited NASA astronaut Gus Grissom to campus to speak to students. Grissom outlined the Gemini program, which we now know as NASA’s second human spaceflight program, and hinted at plans for the renowned Apollo program’s lunar landings. The Diamondback reported that during the question and answer session, however, students forced Grissom to defend the value of the space program and contrast the U.S. program with that of the Russians. This is just one instance of The Diamondback providing a student perspective of the campus climate and culture.

Here’s a teaser for an upcoming post about another famous person featured in The Diamondback:  Next month, look for a post about a U.S. Senator from Massachusetts who delivered the 1959 convocation address.

Thanks to a successful Launch UMD campaign, the University Archives is in the process of digitizing the entire run of The Diamondback, from 1910 to the present. Graduate Student Assistant Jen Wachtel, who is collecting data for the digitization project, has now collected over 70 years’ worth of Diamondback data from the microfilm reels available in the Maryland Room! Stay tuned to Terrapin Tales for updates on her discoveries and the Diamondback Digitization project. This post is the fourth in a series – check out the Twitter hashtag #digiDBK and search for #digiDBK on the Terrapin Tales blog for the first three blog posts.

Astronauts (left to right) Gus Grissom, Ed White, and Roger Chaffee perished in a fire on the launchpad during Apollo 1 testing on April 27, 1967 — only a few years after Grissom hinted at the Apollo program at UMD. This photograph was taken ten days before the fatal fire. Image source: NASA (public domain)

Enjoy your Spring Break and check back again in two weeks!

Have you seen our missing newspapers?


The Diamondback represents a significant student voice at the University of Maryland, and we want to ensure that the entire newspaper is accessible online for research and enjoyment. Today, anyone who wants to access historic issues of The Diamondback can visit the Maryland Room in the Hornbake Library or the Periodicals Room in McKeldin Library and read them on microfilm. Soon, all of these issues will be available and searchable online thanks to the University Archives’ Launch UMD project and generous donors.

When graduate student assistant Jen Wachtel started recording information for the Diamondback Digitization project, we were disappointed to discover gaps in our Diamondback records from the 1910s and early 1920s. These issues neither made it to our bound volumes of newspapers nor consequently the microfilm reels we are preparing for digitization. The missing issues were published during the first years that women enrolled and earned degrees at UMD as well as the early years of Dean of Women Adele H. Stamp’s tenure.

We intend to make all issues available online, but we need your help. Do you have old issues of The Diamondback from the 1910s and early 1920s tucked away? Please contact University Archivist Anne Turkos at aturkos@umd.edu or 301-405-9060 if you have issues to donate or would like more information about the digitization project!

This is the second post in our #digiDBK series about important and interesting stories we’ve unconvered as we digitize The Diamondback.  Read the first post here.

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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Happy New Year!

On this day in 1910, the cadets of the Maryland Agricultural College published volume 1, number 1 of a new student newspaper, The Triangle, which 11 years later became the paper we know today as The Diamondback. Editor-in-chief Millard Tydings and his staff filled the front page with the social, musical, and sports news of the day.

Triangle front page 01_01_1910_crop

This was a terrific way to kick off the new year, and their work led to a 105-year-old tradition of excellence in student publishing at the University of Maryland.

One of the ways the UMD Archives will celebrate 2016 is with the early stages of digitization of the The Triangle and all its successor papers. Capitalizing on the success of our LaunchUMD campaign in spring 2015, we will begin work on making these digital files available later in the new year, even as we continue our fundraising efforts to finish off this project. We deeply appreciate the support we have received thus far, and we hope you enjoy reading the early years of the paper online when they are mounted.

Happy New Year to all of you, and enjoy the front page news from January 1, 1910!

Preserving Pyon Su's diploma

Preserving the past: Treating Pyon Su’s diploma

Last month the University Archives was lucky enough to receive the diploma of Pyon Su, America’s first Korean college student. The diploma is in good condition, but has been stored in a roll for many years, and needed to be flattened to be properly preserved. Read all about the preservation process in this guest post from Bryan Draper, Collections Conservator at the University of Maryland Libraries and Margaret Garnett, Graduate Assistant.

Pyon Su diploma
This is the diploma (unrolled) before preservation. Click to see a larger image.

Pyon Su’s diploma is a typical academic diploma, with the standard text and decoration printed en masse on parchment sheets and the graduate’s name added in calligraphic ink before it was signed by university authorities and the university seal affixed.  Then as now, diplomas might be framed for display, but often were rolled up and stored away in closets or attics.  One hundred twenty-one years after it was granted, Pyon Su’s diploma was in relatively good condition, although it had been tightly rolled and slightly “squashed” over time, which caused repeating creases from top to bottom.

Parchment is an animal skin treated with lime and stretched taut on a frame to dry.  This process realigns the skin fibers to create a hard, translucent and flexible material that has been valued as a writing surface since the time of the ancient Egyptians.  With the 12th-century introduction of paper in Europe, parchment began to fall from general use.  However, due to its durability and long history, parchment has continued to be used for important documents such as deeds, certificates and diplomas.

Preserving Pyon Su's diploma
Bryan works to flatten the diploma. Click to see a larger image.

In order to flatten and digitize it, the still-rolled diploma was placed in a humidity chamber.  Parchment absorbs moisture very readily; while too much causes damage to the fibers and encourages mold growth, the right amount allows the fibers to relax and the diploma to begin unrolling.  Once completely unrolled, the diploma was placed between blotter paper under evenly-applied weight to dry.  After several days, the diploma laid relatively flat but still retained the series of creases or ridges.

For its second treatment, the diploma was humidified between layers of damp blotting paper and GORE-TEX® fabric, which allows for very controlled humidification.  As the parchment relaxed, it was stretched with modified bulldog clips attached to the edges and then pinned out to maintain proper tension while it dried.  This method mirrors the manner in which parchment was originally made: by restretching and realigning the fibers, the diploma is returned to a fully planar state. Once it was dry, the diploma was again placed between blotter papers and evenly weighted.

Preserving Pyon Su's diploma
Flattening the diploma. Click to see a larger image.

While the parchment was being treated, the ribbon and seal at the bottom of the diploma were covered by a plastic envelope. Once the parchment had been stretched and dried, the ribbon was similarly humidified between damp blotting paper and GORE-TEX® while the main portion of the diploma was protected by dry blotting paper. Then the ribbon was carefully smoothed and the points around the edges of the seal uncreased before the entire diploma was once more placed under weight. The diploma was briefly removed from under these weights, and several protective layers of blotting paper, so that it could be digitized; then it was replaced under the weights, where it will remain for several weeks before placing in an archival housing for permanent storage.

See more photos from the process below!

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