MAC Music Returns to Campus

A few months ago, the University Archives received a very special additioncadet2step to our collections: a copy of the original song, the “MAC Cadet Two Step.” It is the oldest published UMD song, dating from 1897! The only other copy of it that’s known to exist is at the Library of Congress, and the song is among the oldest pieces of copyrighted music in its collections.

The song was written by Ira E. Whitehill, an accomplished Maryland Agricultural College student and member of the Mandolin Ensemble.  The student-run club was created in the 1896-1897 school year, but it really didn’t hit its stride until Whitehill,   the only member of the original group who returned to campus the following year, assumed his role as director that fall. His “quick musical insight” allowed him to assemble the highest quality musical talent from among the cadets, aiming to create a group that would be an “honor to the college and to themselves.” That year, the ensemble was lauded by the Reveille (the MAC yearbook) as a “remarkable advancement” from the previous year’s attempt.

97mandolin club
The first Mandolin Ensemble        Whitehill seated second from left

Whitehill went on to compose many other songs,  including the comedic “College Hash” and the “Reveille March and Two-Step,”  which was written to honor The Reveille yearbook. Both songs were featured in the commencement exercises of 1899.

The most recent performance of the “MAC Cadet Two-Step” took place in 2015 at L. Richmond Sparks’ retirement concert. You can listen to the lively tune here. Another very special rendition was part of the half-time show at Homecoming in 2008, celebrating the band’s 100th anniversary; you can find this on YouTube at:

Ira Whitehill’s dedication to his craft and his school set a precedent for future student-run organizations. He not only built a lasting example for future installments of the Mandolin Ensemble, but he also created a wonderful piece of University of Maryland history that will now remain on campus for many years to come.

ira whitehill quote


Terps vs. the Ivies

If you asked the first 100 fans you meet in Maryland Stadium “Did the Terps ever take on an Ivy League team on the gridiron,” probably the vast majority would respond, “No.” They would be surprised to learn that Maryland did indeed face off with Yale, Princeton, and Penn a total of 18 times, beginning in 1919 with a game against the Yale Bulldogs.

Terps’ losses far outnumbered their wins–vs. Yale (2-8-1), Princeton (0-2) and Pennsylvania (1-4). Their most lopsided loss came against Penn, 51-0, in the 1940 match-up.  The last time Maryland played against an Ivy League team was in 1941, losing again to Penn, 55-6. Terps have never taken on Columbia, Brown, Cornell or Dartmouth.

Continue reading “Terps vs. the Ivies”

Ruth Finzel’s May Day Folly

Ruth Finzel-cropThe University of Maryland Archives recently received the 1930 handwritten diary of Ruth M. Finzel (Class of 1931), of Mt. Savage, MD. In it, she shares her experiences as a co-ed in the College of Education, living in the newly constructed Alpha Omega Pi house on College Avenue and as an active participant in the Y.W.C.A. and women’s non-varsity sports, such as tennis, basketball, bowling at College Park lanes, and soccer. The University Archives staff has transcribed the diary and will be sharing excerpts from Ruth’s chronicles in future blog posts.

We begin with May Day, a popular spring tradition that played an important role on campus during Ruth’s era.  May Day festivities (1923-1961) were first established by Dean of Women Adele Stamp.  They included an elaborate pageant with costumes, a theme such as “Nursery Rhymes, “Neptune, Ruler of the Sea,” “Rip Van Winkle,” and “Famous Lovers,” dancing around the Maypole, and the crowning of a queen and her court. The junior women worked many months creating the handmade invitations and costumes to honor the seniors.

Ruth and her AOPi sorority sisters attended numerous rehearsals on the lawn starting in April to prepare for the occasion.  Their heightened interest was inspired by the fact that her sorority sister, Evalyn Ridout (Arts & Sciences, Annapolis, MD), was to be crowned May Day Queen. All the junior women spent many hours creating the handmade invitations and festive costumes that captured the Zingaree, the Gypsy theme for the year.

1930 May Day invitation and program


The morning of May Day began with rain but fortunately cleared in time for the ceremony. Pictured here, Queen Evalyn Ridout  is accompanied by her four attendants:

univarch-055040-0001Left to Right:=
Alice (Curry) Nourse, Educ., Davidsonville, MD, Kappa Kappa Gamma
Isabel Dynes, Home Economics, Chevy Chase, MD, Alpha Ypsilon Chi
Isabel (Izzy) Bewick, Education, Cumberland, MD, Kappa Delta
Roberta Harrison, Education, Washington, DC, Chi Omega

 Ruth writes:

“Rained off & on but finally cleared up so we had May Day.  It was a gypsy theme and fairly good.  Evalyn Ridout was May Queen with Izzy Bewick, Isabel Dynes, Curry Nourse, & Roberta Harrison as maids.

Went to the Chorus recital with Marguerite & Helen & nearly had hysterics over a woman who sang.”

We post this today, on the 86th anniversary of this special day in Ruth’s life, and encourage you to check back for future snapshots of this era in UMD history! Enjoy these additional photos of Zingaree and the gypsies.

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UMD123: 37

37 is for the number of sections on (the original) Testudo’s shell

sorority testudo
(I hope I brought enough flowers…)

Testudo, we all know him. Whether as the mascot who tirelessly cheers our sports teams to victory, or the subject of statues and artwork throughout the campus and the College Park area, or maybe even as  the dapper guy on the right asking out three sorority sisters at once, he is a constant presence in our lives at the University of Maryland. But did you know that the University Archives at Hornbake Library has the preserved remains of the real-life diamondback terrapin who served as the model for the Testudo statues, like the one in front of McKeldin? This treasure is the subject of today’s post!

HCByrd at desk
Harry Clifton Byrd in the President’s Office, ca. 1945-1953.

Our story begins in January 1933, when Harry Clifton “Curley” Byrd, then an assistant to University President Raymond A. Pearson, wrote a letter to the Holland Sea Food Company in Crisfield, Maryland, his hometown. Byrd instructs Mr. Holland to send:

“one big diamondback terrapin of Maryland variety, and not one of those that come from North Carolina. I want it to use as a model for a sculpture.”

The impetus behind acquiring this turtle originated with the Senior Class of 1933, which wished to leave behind a terrapin statue as a class gift. Consequently Dr. Byrd purchased “Archbishop,” aka “Archie,” (soon to be re-christened Testudo) and sent him on to Providence, Rhode Island, to be modeled in bronze by the Gorham Manufacturing Company under the direct supervision of Maryland Agricultural College Class of 1904 alum — and former quarterback — Edmund C. Mayo. “Archbishop” traveled overnight on the train in the company of Senior Class President Ralph Williams, who was also responsible for bringing “Archie” back alive to participate in the statue’s dedication.

Mayo 1906
2nd Lieut. Edmund C. Mayo from 1904 Reveille

According to the May 27, 1933, issue of the Old Line student magazine, Mr. Mayo, now president of Gorham Manufacturing, produced the statue at cost, after Aristide Cianifarani made a model of the live terrapin in clay, based on designs by Joseph Himmelheber. The base of the statue was a separate gift from the Student Government Association, and was likewise produced at cost by Bunt Watkins based on designs by Major Howard Cutler, who had previously designed Ritchie Coliseum, where the statue was to reside.

As to the reasoning behind the gift-giving, the unsigned article continues:

“The memorial has been erected for two purposes. First, it will perpetuate the symbol that the University has adopted, and second, it is to serve as an award to the class winning the annual Freshman-Sophomore struggle. The name of each victorious class is to be engraved each year on a bronze plaque on the base of the memorial, for ten years. After that, bronze plates will be placed around the top of the base, to perpetuate the conquering classes in name at least.

The bronze Terrapin is five feet long, twenty inches high and three feet wide. The original, who measures ten inches, will help unveil his own image on June 2.”

Testudo dedication 1933_2
University President Raymond Pearson shakes hands with Ralph Williams, president of the senior class, at the dedication of the Testudo statue in front of Ritchie Coliseum on June 2, 1933. Also pictured at left is assistant to the president, Harry C. Byrd.

On the day of the big reveal, “Archie” was again called into service. As reported by the Diamondback, “with a string attached to the cloth covering the bronze image and tied about his neck, he ambled off at the precise moment and unveiled his image.”

Unfortunately, the strain of his duties and a particularly hot summer proved too much for Testudo née Archbishop, and he died shortly thereafter. Again, the Diamondback reported, “Dr. R.V. Truitt, head of the Zoology Department, has kept ‘Archie’s’ remains in a state of preservation and now the S.G.A. has essayed to finance the mounting of the terrapin so that he may repose in the Coliseum to arrest the curious gaze of future generations of Maryland students.”

“Archbishop” no longer lives at Ritchie Coliseum, but instead enjoys a quieter after-life, preserved in a humidity-controlled case in a vault in the University Archives at Hornbake Library.

Real Testudo head on
The “real deal” housed in the University Archives at Hornbake Library

Many classes that tour the Archives and all visitors to Hornbake on Maryland Day have the chance to count the number of sections on his shell and take selfies with the university’s most famous diamondback terrapin! The campus community is forever grateful for his brave sacrifice. Happy Maryland Day, everyone! Don’t forget to stop by Hornbake and visit the real Testudo!

This is a post in our new series on Terrapin Tales called UMD123! Similar to our “ABC’s of UMD” series last semester, posts in this series will take a look at the university’s history “by the numbers.” New posts will come out twice a month, on Wednesdays, throughout the semester; search “UMD123” or check out Twitter #UMD123to see the rest. If you want to learn more about campus history, you can also visit our encyclopedia University of Maryland A to Z: MAC to Millennium for more UMD facts.


Musical Showdown

Duke Ellington gif
Duke Ellington with his band. Source

Ritchie Coliseum is a well-known fixture on our campus (see University of Maryland A to Z under letter R). We know the coliseum as one of the many campus venues for recreation and wellness and as the home of our men’s basketball team from 1932 to 1955 –- but it has also hosted historic campus performances! Imagine in 1956 one of the world’s most famous jazz musicians, Duke Ellington, bringing the “Big Band” style of music to the University of Maryland in a spectacular showdown. For the fall 1956 season opener, Ritchie Coliseum hosted a Jazz vs. Classics Pop Concert. As reported by The Diamondback, the cost to students to witness this historic concert was only $1 (that’s just $8.72 today with inflation)!

Duke Ellington
Announcement of the Ellington performance at Ritchie Coliseum, October 25, 1956

Duke Ellington is known for elevating the perception of jazz music to spectacular heights. He posthumously earned a 1999 Pulitzer Prize for music “in recognition of his musical genius, which evoked aesthetically the principles of democracy through the medium of jazz and thus made an indelible contribution to art and culture.” [1] In October 1956, when he came to campus, Ellington was in the midst of a career-making world tour. Only a few months prior to his campus visit, he had performed at the Newport Jazz Festival – an annual music festival held in Newport, Rhode Island – in one of the festival’s most historic performances. You can listen to recordings from that 1956 festival performance via the Internet Archive.

Duke Ellington’s campus performance is just one of the many important and interesting records of campus history found in The Diamondback. In order to facilitate online access to the entire run of The Diamondback, from 1910 to the present, the University Archives is in the process of digitizing the student newspaper from microfilm. Thanks to a successful Launch UMD campaign, we can look forward to accessing these newspapers online in 2016! This post is the fifth in a series about the Diamondback Digitization project written by graduate assistant Jen Wachtel. Check the Twitter hashtag #digiDBK or the DigiDBK tag on the Terrapin Tales blog for previous updates.

If you love political trivia, stay tuned for the next post!



Ladies of Leap Day

We all know that when you think of Leap Day, you think of this graphic that recently circulated on Facebook: 366 days

Here at the Special Collections and University Archives, we have another reaction:success kid

That’s right, another day of the year means another day of The Diamondback!

One hundred years ago today, the M.A.C. Weekly, a predecessor of The Diamondback student newspaper, was abuzz with gossip about an age-old Leap Year tradition. Customs rooted in British folklore held that Leap Day was the one day of the year when well-to-do women could propose to men. Today, a woman proposing to a man is not unheard of – but in 1916 it was taboo and still considered “unfeminine,” even on Leap Day. Please enjoy the ladies’ humorous take on Leap Day traditions, including a recipe for disaster and a poem proclaiming “Go to it girls! now’s your chance…”!

(right-click images to open in new tabs)

Ladies, do you plan to honor tradition and snatch up your men today like the female students from exactly a century ago? What do you think about this custom on campus? Let us know in the comments!

Graduate assistant Jen Wachtel stumbled upon these gems on microfilm in the Leap Day issue of the M.A.C. Weekly as part of the #digiDBK project. We’re looking forward to digitizing all issues of The Diamondback and making them searchable online, thanks to generous donors and our successful LaunchUMD campaign. This post is the third in a series of important and interesting stories from the Diamondback Digitization project. Check back twice a month for future installments!

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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Lessons for LIFE: UMD Manners Guide Gets National Attention

In 1941, numerous University of Maryland students were featured in LIFE magazine.  Not for an athletic or academic achievement, however–but for their manners.

LIFE featured students from Maryland acting out instructions from “To Do Or Not To Do,” an etiquette guide handed out to all 1,176 female students on the UMD campus. This publication was the creation of the Women’s League, a division of the Student Government Association concerned with social functions, charity work, and “to enforce observation of those rules and regulations deemed necessary.”  Rules on how to dress, how to conduct one’s self at various events, when to smoke, eat, or even say hello were proscribed in the slim volume that helped guide coed life.

Fashion choices and fraternity pins--just a few of the guidelines given to Maryland coeds in 1941.  Featured in LIFE magazine, February 17, 1941.
Fashion choices and fraternity pins–just a few of the guidelines given to Maryland coeds in 1941. Featured in LIFE magazine, February 17, 1941. Click to enlarge.


Etiquette guides were not unique to Maryland, and whether you believe that they encouraged good behavior, lockstep conformity (or even both), they were a mainstay on college campuses from the 1930s to the 1960s. Continue reading “Lessons for LIFE: UMD Manners Guide Gets National Attention”

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!

The Maryland-Georgetown Rivalry: Hoya-Terp Day???

While we anxiously await the re-boot of the men’s basketball rivalry this November 17th, it’s important to note that Maryland and Georgetown have played each other in other sports in recent years, including men’s soccer, women’s lacrosse, and field hockey.  But did you know that Maryland students used to celebrate a specific “Hoya-Terp Day?”

Maryland and Georgetown’s earliest rivalry was in football, beginning with a 6-4 Maryland Agricultural College victory in 1894.  The rivalry’s most active period was from 1934-1941, when the two schools met every year, spawning the now long-forgotten Hoya-Terp Day.

The rivalry in football ended for good after a meeting in 1950, which resulted in a 25-14 victory for the Terrapins.  From there the two schools’ programs went in vastly different directions: Maryland won its only national championship in 1953, while Georgetown cancelled football altogether in 1951, a decision that would stand until 1970.

The 1950 Maryland-Georgetown game summary, from the 1951 Terrapin yearbook.
The 1950 Maryland-Georgetown game summary, from the 1951 Terrapin yearbook.