Maryland Done a “Dirty Deal”

Ruth Finzel-cropAccording to the diary of 1930’s coed, Ruth Finzel, recently donated to the University of Maryland Archives, the Aggies football team got a “dirty deal” in their loss to the Naval Academy Middies 86 years ago today at Washington’s Griffith Stadium.

The Crab Bowl, as it is presently known, was played on November 22, 1930.  Notable attendees at the game included Charles F. Adams, Secretary of the Navy, Albert E. Ritchie, Maryland Governor, Sir Ronald Lindsay, British Ambassador, and Rear Adm. S.S. Robinson, Naval Academy Superintendent.  By many accounts, the 1930 game proved to be the first competitive contest of the series, with Navy scoring the only points on the second play of the game. The remaining 58 minutes were a defensive struggle

Here’s Ruth’s account of that football showdown:

“Norma, Jake, Morselly, Jane Smith and I went with Ruth Gilbert to the Navy game.  The girls wore chrysanthemums and ribbons to it [sic].  The traffic was terrible and Ruth was driving like wild.  Smacked into someone and nearly upset [sic] another time.  Parked way off.  Lost 6-0 by a dirty deal.  Kennedy came down with me for the last 10 minutes of the game and walked out with me.  He’s so cute.  I told him about my Iota Nu Delta date, so he told me about his.  I’m glad he had a punk time.  Went to bed early.

The dirty deal to which Ruth refers?  Check out the account of the game in The Diamondback: “Byrdmen Beaten by Kirn Plus Ten Men in Annapolis Fracas.  Adverse Decision Turns Possible Triumph into Defeat”

MD vs Navy 1930 clipping_crop

This was the latest installment of an intense football rivalry  between two institutions close in proximity (30 miles) but many miles apart in cultural and institutional differences.  Play began in 1905, ended abruptly 60 years later, but was renewed in 2005.  Losing the first 8 games, Maryland finally won in 1931, the season after Ruth graduated.  One of the highlights of this long series is the September 30, 1951, game at which Byrd Stadium, now known as Maryland Stadium, was dedicated. The Terps topped the Middies, 35-21, that day, and UMD Heisman Trophy runner-up Jack Scarbath scored the first touchdown in the new stadium. A total of 21 games have been played with an overall record of 14 Navy wins to Maryland’s 7.

Jack Scarbath 1st touchdown in Byrd
Scarbath scores!

Historically, the in-state rivalry was fueled by what some young men perceived as the coeds’ attraction to nattily-attired Midshipmen in their handsome uniforms over the more typical casual appearance and behavior of men on the Maryland campus.  There was also an enduring grudge borne out of a single-finger gesture made by a Maryland linebacker after tackling Navy QB Roger Staubach, during a narrow Maryland victory, 27-22, in 1964.  Consequently, the Maryland-Navy competition was suspended for 40 years by Navy.

Here’s a selection of program covers from some of our contests against the Middies:

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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! You can find her account of the 1930 May Day fun with Zingaree and the Gypsies here.

‘Presidential’ Poetry–A Candidate Teaches at Maryland

Having guest or visiting lecturers is nothing new on college campuses, but students in the University of Maryland English department got a special treat in the fall of 1971.  Eugene McCarthy, presidential candidate and former U.S. Senator, arrived to teach two classes, ENGL243 and ENGL479.  The former course would cover poetry and poetics for undergrads, and the latter was an advanced undergraduate seminar in literature and politics.  McCarthy, who had not yet given up politics entirely, was initially noncommittal about his future past the end of the semester.

UMD's English Department announces former Senator and presidential candidate Eugene McCarthy's arrival on campus.  Department of English newsletter, November 1971.
UMD’s English Department announces former Senator and presidential candidate Eugene McCarthy’s arrival on campus. Department of English newsletter, November 1971.

McCarthy “appeared fidgety,” according to the Washington Post, which attended and covered an early ENGL243 class.  While McCarthy had previously taught economics, he had never taught poetry before.  He purportedly sought to combine political thought and poetry, the Post reporting that McCarthy “plans to inject a note of politics into his course,” assigning Machiavelli’s “The Prince” and Tolstoy’s “War and Peace.”

Ultimately McCarthy stayed just for the fall 1971 semester, deciding to seek the Democratic presidential nomination again in 1972.  Perhaps this was not a moment too soon: in January 1972, two Maryland state legislators, irritated by what they perceived to be McCarthy’s creation of a “political action course,” and dubbing him “the politician of student unrest,” demanded his firing and the recapturing of his salary. McCarthy labeled the charges “ridiculous,” noting that he had explicitly rejected teaching a politics class, and had never abused his position.  McCarthy’s job performance was supported by Morris Freedman, chair of the English Department. One source to the Post described McCarthy’s classes not as partisan, but as “a bit of a bore.”  McCarthy would be unsuccessful as a presidential candidate in 1972, and again in 1976, running five times without success.

(Non-UMD Sources: The Washington Post, “McCarthy, the UM Poet, Staying in Political Arena,” Sept. 15, 1971; “2 Delegates Seek to Fire McCarthy, say he taints UM class with politics,” Jan. 8, 1972; “McCarthy ends his UM career,” Jan. 12, 1972.)

Remembering the first “Voice of the Terrapins”

Today marks the 49th anniversary of the passing of George F. Batka, the one-time director of the University of Maryland’s radio and television program in the Department of Speech.  Dr. Batka also had the distinction of being the “Voice of the Terrapins” as the public address announcer when Byrd Stadium opened in 1950, as well as at commencement each year.  His voice was instantly recognizable for countless Terrapin students and fans, and when he passed away suddenly from a heart attack at age 50, his loss was keenly felt.

Dr. George Batka (left), consults with Dr. Theodore Aylesworth (center) and a student in the UMD television studio, 1962.
Dr. George Batka (left), consults with Dr. Theodore Aylesworth (center) and a student in the UMD television studio, 1962.

Dr. Batka came to campus in 1948, and in addition to running the radio and television department, served as faculty adviser to the campus radio station, WMUC.  In 1959 he was named Outstanding Faculty Member by the Men’s League, a campus student organization, and in 1961, the Air Force ROTC chapter on campus made him an honorary colonel. He presided over the debut of closed-circuit television on campus in 1958 and produced numerous radio and television programs for Baltimore and Washington stations.

So, the next time you’re at a game, and you hear the public address announcer, remember Dr. Batka and his contributions to the university, as well as to technology that is now completely ingrained into American life.

Dr. George Batka watching a cue being delivered in the UMD studio, 1962.
Dr. George Batka watching a cue being delivered in the UMD studio, 1962.

Trailblazers: Congressman Parren J. Mitchell (part 2)

Parren Mitchell is sworn in by Baltimore Mayor Theodore McKeldin as Executive Director of the city's Community Action Agency, October 1965. (photograph from the Baltimore News American collection)
Parren Mitchell is sworn in by Baltimore Mayor Theodore McKeldin as Executive Director of the city’s Community Action Agency, October 1965. (photograph from the Baltimore News American Collection)

In part one, we looked at Parren Mitchell’s road to becoming the first African-American graduate student to take all of his classes on campus and receive a degree from the University of Maryland, College Park.  Mitchell’s graduation in 1952 was only the beginning for this legendary Marylander.

After graduation, Mitchell returned to Morgan State College as a sociology professor and assistant head of their Urban Studies Institute.  Mitchell also spent time teaching at Western Maryland College (now McDaniel College) and the University of Maryland School of Social Work in Baltimore, according to a 1971 interview with The Black Explosion, a newspaper published by the Black Student Union at the University of Maryland, College Park.

In the early 1960s, Mitchell began to move into public service.  He was named Executive Director of Maryland’s Human Relations Commission in 1963 and was selected by Mayor Theodore McKeldin to serve as Executive Director of the Baltimore Community Action Agency in 1965.

Parren Mitchell being interviewed by the editorial board of the Baltimore News American during his 1970 campaign. (photograph from the Baltimore News American Collection)
Parren Mitchell being interviewed by the editorial board of the Baltimore News American during his 1970 campaign. (photograph from the Baltimore News American Collection)

Mitchell made his first run for elected office in 1968 as a candidate for Maryland’s 7th District in the U.S. House of Representatives.  He lost that election by approximately 5,000 votes, but his heightened profile in the community following that race helped him win the seat two years later.  In January 1971, Parren Mitchell was sworn in and became Maryland’s first African-American member of Congress.

Congressman Mitchell served the 7th District for 15 years and rose to the leadership position of House-at-Large Whip.  A founding member of the Congressional Black Caucus, Mitchell focused much of his time in office on ensuring that minority business owners had equal access to economic opportunity.  He was known for his strong stance against the war in Vietnam and was one of the first to call for President Nixon’s resignation during the Watergate scandal.  As awareness of the South African government’s apartheid policies grew, Congressman Mitchell also pressed for economic sanctions against that country.

In 1986, Mitchell decided not to seek re-election and instead chose to run for Lieutenant Governor back home in Maryland.  He lost that race but remained in public service, founding the Minority Business Enterprise Legal Defense and Education Fund to continue his work on behalf of minority business owners.  Congressman Mitchell passed away on May 28, 2007.

Parren Mitchell and others protesting South Africa's apartheid policies outside of the country's embassy in Washington, D.C.
Parren Mitchell and others protesting South Africa’s apartheid policies outside of the country’s embassy in Washington, D.C., February 1985. (Photograph from the Baltimore News American Collection)

More than a half-century after his graduation, Congressman Mitchell’s name lives on here at College Park.  He was elected into the Alumni Hall of Fame in 1995.  In 1996, The Black Alumni Network established the Parren Mitchell Baltimore Incentive Awards Endowment, which provides scholarships to students from nine of Baltimore City’s high schools to attend the University of Maryland.  In 2008, Governor O’Malley signed a law establishing the Parren J Mitchell Scholarships, which are awarded yearly to ten students who agree to go into public service after they graduate from a Maryland college or university.

Congressman Parren J. Mitchell left an indelible mark on the University of Maryland, the state and the country.  We are proud to call this trailblazing Terp one of our own.

On April 29, 2014, the Critical Race Initiative of the Department of Sociology will be hosting “A Critical Race Symposium on the Legacy of Congressman Parren Mitchell.” Find out more and RSVP for the event


Photographs from the Baltimore News American Collection:

Maryland Women and the “Call To Farms” During WWII (Part 3)

In honor of Women’s History Month, Special Collections and University Archives presents a three-part series on the Women’s Land Army and women farmers during the Second World War and the contributions of the Maryland Extension Service in College Park to the war effort.

In addition to running Camp Mil-Bur, the University of Maryland also offered “short courses” – four-week classes in farming basics such as raising chickens – to teach women who had not been raised in a rural environment how to handle farm duties. UMD was the first university to contribute in this fashion, and a number of other colleges followed suit.

short course

The Maryland Extension Service in College Park, which ran the Emergency Farm Labor program for the state, published a report in 1948, “Farm Labor in Wartime,” detailing their success in the war effort: Maryland produced 40% more food than average and did it with 30% less labor. That success would not have been possible without the contributions of women. Nationally, more than 1.5 million non-farm women would work for the Women’s Land Army during the course of the war.

girls with baskets

The WLA shut down at the end of 1945, as did Camp Mil-Bur, but the Emergency Farm Labor program continued for two more years, as the military was still in the process of demobilizing, and the immediate aftermath of war in Europe left millions of people without enough food. Eventually, as with Rosie the Riveter, the Farmerettes went back to their old lives.

But the image of the farmer as the man tending his fields alone is changing. In April of 2013, the Department of Agriculture released a study of women farmers which showed that nearly 1 million women are now farm operators and that women account for 30% of American farmers. The number of women farmers in the U.S. has more than doubled since 1982 as local food movements and other environmental issues have drawn more and more women into farming in the United States. Globally the UN estimates that women produce more than 50% of our food. The Farmerettes were, perhaps, merely ahead of their time.

Maryland Women and the “Call To Farms” During WWII (Part 2)

In honor of Women’s History Month, Special Collections and University Archives presents a three-part series on the Women’s Land Army and women farmers during the Second World War and the contributions of the Maryland Extension Service in College Park to the war effort.

camp milbur cover

In Maryland, the Women’s Land Army and the Victory Farm Volunteers worked with the Maryland Extension Service in College Park to open Camp Mil-Bur on Gibson Island in Anne Arundel County in 1943. The camp was open for three years and recruited physically fit women as young as 14 to do farm labor for a few months during the harvest season. The women were paid and given temporary housing and provided with meals that were prepared with guidance from a nutrition specialist from the University of Maryland.

daily news photo dorm

In their first year, Camp Mil-Bur workers picked more than 80,000 pounds of beans alone, despite a drought that year dampening the crop. For comparison, the total amount of beans picked from 1943 to 1947 by the entire Emergency Farm Labor Program in Maryland was just over 460,000 pounds.

Campers rose at 6am and ate breakfast at 7. The workday in the fields was 8-5 with an hour break for lunch. Despite the hard physical labor, many campers went swimming daily after work to cool off, under supervision of the swimming instructor, who doubled as the social director. The volunteers played baseball and put on amateur shows during their down time on the weekends, and short outings were arranged in Washington or Baltimore. Some enterprising campers produced a newsletter, The Farmerette, with songs, poems and stories written by campers.

Farmerette white_Page_1

Although often referred to as “girls” in the local news coverage, there was a range of ages in the Camp and the Women’s Land Army. Married women and career women volunteered for the WLA, including school teachers who used the summer break to do farm work for the war effort before going back to the classroom.

Camp Mil-Bur also had a close connection with Maryland 4-H, as the women’s labor program in the Maryland Extension Service was run by Dorothy “Dot” Emerson. Dot was a long-time 4-H member who joined the Maryland Extension 1923. She was instrumental in starting the national 4-H conference in 1927 and was also the first inductee to the Maryland 4-H Hall of Fame, in 1979.

In part three we’ll look at the University of Maryland’s contributions to the war effort and the success of the WLA.

50th Anniversary of Beatles’ DC concert

Today, February 11th, marks the 50th anniversary of the Beatles’ first U.S. concert — right here at the Washington Coliseum in D.C., only two days after their debut on the Ed Sullivan Show. More than 8,000 fans showed up on a snowy night to hear the band play on a stage typically used as a boxing ring.The show began at 8:31 p.m. and included a short break halfway through the set to allow them to turn and face the other half of the audience. Over the course of three years, the Beatles performed more than 45 concerts in the United States, but Washington, D.C., will always be the first.

The Beatles' press conference, February 11, 1964
The Beatles’ press conference, February 11, 1964

In addition to serving as a landmark moment in music history and popular culture, the Beatles’ D.C. concert marked an important date in University of Maryland radio history. Paul Palmer and Bill Seaby, student reporters for WMUC, the campus radio station, attended and recorded the Beatles’ press conference prior to the D.C. performance. In 2013, the 1964 audio clip of the Beatles was rediscovered while preparing for the University Libraries’ special collections exhibit, “Saving College Radio: WMUC – Past, Present, and Future.” See our website for information about the exhibit.

The audio reel combined the pre-recorded press conference clips with narration from the WMUC announcers. In the radio broadcast, Bill Seaby attributed the Beatles’ popularity to their personalities — “likable guys with a disarming sense of humor.” The press conference questions included inquiries about their musical training, their first big break, their favorite musicians, and their opinions of President Johnson (“does he buy our records?”) and American girls (“marvelous”). The sense of humor that Seaby observed came into play during many of the band’s answers. When asked if the singers styled their hair in the mop-top before they became famous, Paul answered, “Only in the morning.” Later, Paul Palmer of WMUC asked how long they would remain in the U.S. and the response was, “Til we go.”

Follow this link to hear 10 minutes of highlights from the Beatles’ press conference: The clip was also used on WCAO, a Baltimore top-40 station during the 1960s and 1970s.

Toward the end of the clip, Palmer and Seaby conducted separate short interviews with George Harrison, John Lennnon, and Ringo Starr. They even managed to persuade John Lennon to record several station IDs for WMUC, one of which can be heard here: (track 10). Bill Seaby ended the WMUC broadcast with the following words: “Only time will tell whether or not Beatlemania can be cured. Right now it seems we can only prescribe a large amount of Beatles music to satisfy the demand for these four young British stars.” It is proof of the band’s talents and universal appeal that even after 50 years, Beatlemania is alive and well.

A Subway Stop at Byrd Stadium?

Here in the archives, we sometimes come across something that is only marginally related to the University of Maryland, but too cool not to share. This is one of those cases.

In 1954, Andrew J. Campbell had an idea. An engineer from Cabin John, Maryland, Campbell got that idea down on paper and distributed it to notable D.C. area figures, including then-University of Maryland President Emeritus Harry Clifton “Curley” Byrd. His idea? Well, he called it the “National Capital and Metropolitan Area Rapid Transit Subway System.” Take a look:

The Metropolitan Area Rapid Transit Subway System, as proposed by Andrew J. Campbell, Jr. (click for larger image)
The Metropolitan Area Rapid Transit Subway System, as proposed by Andrew J. Campbell, Jr. (click for larger image)

Campbell envisioned two main stations in the District, at Union Station and Lafayette Square (see the detail print below).  These stations would feed four two-track loops.  The North Loop would go from Union Station through Hyattsville and Byrd Stadium here in College Park and up to Wheaton before coming back down through Silver Spring.  The East Loop was to go across the Anacostia and out to Waldorf and Upper Marlboro before returning to Union Station by way of the Capitol.  The West Loop originated at Lafayette Square and went out to Bethesda and Potomac. And the South Loop was to go from Lafayette past the Pentagon and Airport, returning through Falls Church and Vienna. If you squint a little, it starts to look and sound like a Metro map of today, doesn’t it?

Campbell's vision of two hub stations, one at Union Station and the other at Lafayette Square. (click for larger image)
Campbell’s vision of two hub stations, one at Union Station and the other at Lafayette Square. (click for larger image)

Campbell’s information packet, which you can read here, was written by a man with the heart of a salesman. He says that the idea came to him after seeing a line of miserable folks waiting in the bitter cold for a bus on Pennsylvania Avenue: “It tugged at my heart strings to think of the economical necessity that compels them to accept this condition of travel, knowing there could be better.”  Campbell writes “can you picture the time saved and comfort of a good rapid transit system … No slow crowded long street car or bus rides with plenty of red lights to make the going slower. And the cost? “PLENTY — But tomorrow it would be MORE.” Campbell even takes into account the power needs of such a system, suggesting a hydroelectric dam be built near Great Falls.

In the end, Campbell’s idea was way ahead of its time.  The Washington Metro opened in 1976, 22 years after he put his idea out there, using lines that dead-end instead of Campbell’s loops.  While the Metro certainly is convenient, we think some regular Red Line riders might take issue with Campbell’s assertion about the amount of time it saves…

 This post is based on documents found in the President’s Office files, Accession 94-85.

The Great Squirrel Migration of 1968

Seeing squirrels laying dead on the side of the road is not unusual and, for most people, does not cause any sense of alarm.  In the fall of 1968, however, an increase in the amount of dead squirrels found alongside major roads and riverbanks alerted biologists to a problem.  Road kill dotted almost every mile on large stretches of roads between Florida and Vermont, a sharp increase from the usual ten mile distance between dead animals.  Called in to determine the reasoning behind the explosion of squirrel activity, University of Maryland squirrel expert Dr. Vagn Flyger (pronounced Vawn FLEE-gur) conducted research.  He immediately recognized that a massive migration of gray squirrels had occurred.  Because the squirrels did not know the geography of the new areas, they unknowingly ran to their doom in busy roads and bodies of water.  But what caused this concerted movement?

Flyger radio collar on squirrel

A captured squirrel wearing one of Flyger’s radio transmitters Continue reading “The Great Squirrel Migration of 1968”

New research source

The UMD Libraries are pleased to announce the availability of a new electronic resource, the historical files of The Evening Star, the newspaper of record for Washington, DC, for the years 1852 to 1922. Articles in the database are full-text and fully searchable. Published under such titles as Washington Star-News and The Washington Star, this long-running daily afternoon newspaper was one of the highest profile publications in the United States.

Evening Star Homepage
A screen shot of the Evening Star search page

The UMD Archives is particularly pleased that this resource has been added to the very long list of the Libraries’ searchable databases, since the Star contains a great deal of coverage of activities at the Maryland Agricultural College and the University of Maryland.

You may access the database through the UMD Libraries’ Research Port at