November 29, 2012: the 100th Anniversary of the Great Fire

Thanksgiving Dance ends in fire; a modern University rises from the ashes.

Photo taken by Edwin Powell. This photograph shows the Barracks engulfed in flames on the night of November 29, 1912. By morning, two of the school’s most valued structures were completely lost, and students found themselves with no place to live on campus.
~University of Maryland Print File, Acc. 6377
© Lee Pennington


The University of Maryland remembers the events that occurred on this night, 100 years ago, permanently changing the course of its history.

Follow “live” reporting of the #fire1912, starting tonight, @UMDArchives or University Archives at the University of Maryland Facebook!

Read events leading up to and during the fire on the anniversary blog. Understand the aftermath of this devastating night, and how the Maryland Agricultural College used this as an opportunity to redefine its identity.

Check out the online exhibit the Great Fire, Maryland Agricultural College, 1912

What would happen if the college burned down? It’s been an item of speculation among students for 115 years. Read this poem from the 1897 Reveille yearbook.

Read an article at CBS Baltimore featuring University Archivist Anne Turkos!


For more information about the Great Fire, Maryland Agricultural College, and University of Maryland history, contact the University Archives, Special Collections, University of Maryland Libraries.

Featured Novelist from Special Collections: Gertrude Stein

Nanowrimo bannerNaNoWriMo – National Novel Writing Month – occurs annually every November. Each week this November, we wrote a post to celebrate the life of a novelist represented in the University of Maryland Special Collections. This is our last post for 2012, but we encourage any readers to continue their research of these fantastic writers–whether that research takes place in the Special Collections at Hornbake Library, or curled up on the couch with a cup of tea and a good novel, is entirely up to you!

This week’s novelist is Gertrude Stein (February 3, 1874 – July 27, 1946). Novels by this prolific author include Three Lives, The Making of Americans: Being a History of a Family’s Progress,
and The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas. Stein also wrote A Novel of Thank You, an exploration of the author’s process of writing a novel, and essay Composition as Explanation to explain the theory behind her writing.

Portrait of Gertrude Stein, with American flag as backdrop. 1935. Carl Van Vechten, photographer. Carl Van Vechten Collection, Library of Congress. (from Credo Reference)

About Gertrude Stein:
(From ArchivesUM and The Poetry Foundation)

  • Stein was born in Pennsylvania and lived in both California and Baltimore; however, her writing career began in Paris.
  • During Stein’s college years at Harvard Annex/Radcliffe College, she studied psychology under William James and published two research papers in the Harvard Psychological Review.
  • Stein had significant connections to the art world, and her home in Paris regularly hosted modernist writers and painters. Pablo Picasso is a frequent visitor and correspondent.
  • In The Collected Essays and Occasional Writings of Katherine Anne Porter, Porter describes Stein’s writing as  “a great spiral, a slow, ever-widening, unmeasured spiral unrolling itself horizontally. The people in this world appear to be motionless at every stage of their progress, each one is simultaneously being born, arriving at all ages and dying. You perceive that it is a world without mobility, everything takes place, has taken place, will take place; therefore nothing takes place, all at once.”

Resources about Gertrude Stein:

Papers of Gertrude Stein and Her Circle, Special Collections, Hornbake Library, UMD

First Appearances Collection, Special Collections, Hornbake Library, UMD

Caricatures of Mina Loy, Marsden Hartley, and Gertrude Stein, from the New York Tribune, November 4, 1923. From the Djuna Barnes Papers, Special Collections, Hornbake Library, UMD

Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas Papers. American Literature Collection, Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University.

Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas Collection. American Literature Collection, Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University.


Searching UMD Libraries’ Digital Collections Using BASE

The Bielefeld Academic Search Engine (BASE), sponsored by the library of the University of Bielefeld in Germany, is an electronic index to more than 37 million digital objects in over 2300 repositories around the world, including over 15,000 items from UMD Libraries’ Digital Collections.  BASE provides not only an alternative method of searching and browsing our digital collections, but also the opportunity to search our collections simultaneously alongside those of many other, similar repositories.  At the same time, because BASE’s scope is limited to collections in academic libraries and other scholarly repositories, and because it allows for the searching and delimiting of results on the basis of detailed metadata, it makes possible more targeted searching than generalized search engines such as Google.  To search BASE, go to  To search or browse UMD’s collections on BASE, go to

Featured Novelist from Special Collections: Jack Hoffenberg

Nanowrimo bannerWriting: “the most fun you can have with your clothes on.” –Jack Hoffenberg

NaNoWriMo – National Novel Writing Month – occurs annually every November. Join us each week as we celebrate the life of a novelist represented in the University of Maryland Special Collections!

This week’s novelist is Jack Hoffenberg. A native of Baltimore, Maryland, Hoffenberg served in the military and worked as an advertising executive before relocating to California in the 1950’s and writing ten novels, including:

  • A Thunder at Dawn
  • Sow Not in Anger
  • Anvil of Passion
  • The Desperate Adversaries
  • 17 Ben Gurion
  • A Time for Pagans
reviews of the desperate adversaries

Reviews of the Desperate Adversaries. From the Jack Hoffenberg Papers at the Special Collections, University of Maryland.

About Jack Hoffenberg:
(from the Jack Hoffenberg Papers: Historical Note)

Hoffenberg spent ten months with the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department, riding in patrol cars and working with homicide, narcotics, burglary, and vice crews, to gather information for The Desperate Adversaries.

He attended Baltimore City College, the University of Maryland, and the Maryland Institute College of Art.

He served three terms as president of the West Coast chapter of P.E.N. (Poets, Editors, and Novelists) International.

Hoffenberg was devoted to sports throughout his life–first as an athlete and then as a spectator. He took time from his arduous writing schedule to enjoy professional football and baseball games.

As a young man, he enlisted in the U. S. Marine Corps and served as an officer under General Frank A. Evans in the U. S. Constabulary in “Papa Doc” Duvalier’s Haiti for three and one-half years. A Thunder At Dawn is based on his military experiences in the Caribbean. He returned to military service during World War II, serving in the U. S. Army in Italy; at war’s end, he left the army as a major.

Hoffenberg’s award from P.E.N. From the Jack Hoffenberg Papers at the Special Collections, University of Maryland.


Jack Hoffenberg Papers, Special Collections at University of Maryland Libraries
De drugmagnaten, translation of A Time for Pagans, Special Collections at University of Maryland Libraries

Featured Novelist from Special Collections: Hope Mirrlees

Nanowrimo banner

NaNoWriMo – National Novel Writing Month – occurs annually every November. Join us each week as we celebrate the life of a novelist represented in the University of Maryland Special Collections!

This week’s novelist is Hope Mirrlees. Her fiction includes  Madeleine: One of Love’s Jansenists, Lud-in-the-Mist, and Counterplot. Although printed copies of Mirrlees’s work are rare, Lud-in-the-Mist gained more recent popularity as a science fiction novel.

Learn more about Hope Mirrlees

Hope Mirrlees and Jane Harrison


Hope Mirrlees papers at UMD

Collected Poems, by Hope Mirrlees; ed. Sandeep Parmar.

‘The Lure of the Archive’: Dr Sandeep Parmar on the Archives of Hope Mirrlees and Mina Loy
The Carcanet Blog

Hope-in-the-mist : the extraordinary career and mysterious life of Hope Mirrlees
by Michael Swanwick (nearest copy available at Library of Congress)

Jane Harrison Collection: the Hope Mirrlees Papers
Newnham College Archives, Cambridge

T.S. Eliot Collection and Lady Ottoline Morrell papers at UMD

Neil Gaiman reccommends Hope Mirrlees’s Lud-in-the-Mist

William Morris as Poet Laureate?

William Morris

William Morris

With the publication of Earthly Paradise in 1870, William Morris became an acclaimed poet throughout England. After the death of Alfred Lord Tennyson in 1892, Morris was reportedly in contention for the post of Poet Laureate of the United Kingdom. The works of Poet Laureates are recognized as having national significance, an honor bestowed by the monarch at the recommendation of the prime minister. There was just one problem. By the 1890s, Morris had become an avid and well-known socialist and political agitator. He was particularly critical of British imperialism and the violent suppression of free speech by government authorities.  And he was not shy about his expressing his opinions.  In 1887, Morris was arrested for his participation in the Bloody Sunday protests in Trafalgar Square.  Morris reportedly declined to even be considered as a candidate for Poet Laureate.

In fact, claims of Morris’s potential Poet Laureateship remain questionable.  Morris made no mention of an official offer, but alluded to the laureateship in several letters.   In an 1892 letter to James Bryce, he remarked “I could not accept a post which would give me even the appearance of serving a court for compliance sake.”  However, rumors continued to spread that Morris was a viable contender, much to Morris’s agitation.  In 1892, Morris wrote to the the Daily Chronicle, “Will you kindly contradict the report that I have been offered the Laureateship, as it is not true.” Alfred Austin was eventually offered the post and became the Poet Laureate in 1896.

Read an excerpt from Morris’s “Earthly Paradise”:
Of Heaven or Hell I have no power to sing,
I cannot ease the burden of your fears,
Or make quick-coming death a little thing,
Or bring again the pleasure of past years,
Nor for my words shall ye forget your tears,
Or hope again for aught that I can say,
The idle singer of an empty day

But rather, when aweary of your mirth,
From full hearts still unsatisfied ye sigh,
And, feeling kindly unto all the earth,
Grudge every minute as it passes by,
Made the more mindful that the sweet days die—
Remember me a little then I pray,
The idle singer of an empty day.

Now read Austin’s “A Dream of England”
I had a dream of England. Wild and weird,
The billows ravened round her, and the wrack,
Darkening and dwindling, blotted out the track,
Then flashed on her a bolt that scorched and seared.
She, writhing in her ruin, rolled, and reared,
Then headlonged unto doom, that drove her back
To welter on the waters, blind and black,
A homeless hulk, a derelict unsteered.
Wailing I woke, and through the dawn descried,
Throned on the waves that threatened to o’erwhelm,
The England of my dream resplendent ride,
And armoured Wisdom, sovran at the helm,
Through foaming furrows of the future guide
To wider empire a majestic Realm.

How does Morris’s work compare to Austin’s? Do you think Morris’s political views have been compromised if he accepted the Poet Laureateship? Visit the Maryland Room Gallery and evaluate Morris’s poetry and prose featured in the exhibit How We Might Live: The Vision of William Morris.

In the papers of Bill Edwardsen . . .

Special Collections in Mass Media and Culture contains the papers of Bill Edwardsen. A first inventory of the papers recently revealed a wealth of photographs of pop culture figures.

Bill Edwardsen, a disc jockey who worked from 1949 into the new millennium, loved the music and entertainment of his heyday. He had a personal collection of over 6,000 records from big bands, 1950s crooners, and Broadway tunes. He attempted to play “his kind” of music for the rest of his career, and thanks to a later nostalgia movement, was rather successful in his quest.

Edwardsen refused to play rock. And country. And he didn’t like talk radio either. And he didn’t want to switch from records to tapes. This aversion to change caused him to twice leave a stable, popular post in search of a chance to play the kind of music he liked.

Edwardsen believed strongly that a disc jockey should get out of the studio to promote and improve his work. In addition to appearing at over a hundred local events per year at the height of his success, he traveled to conduct interviews with celebrities, pseudocelebrities, and anyone who might have something interesting to say. He kept a labeled collection of snapshots of himself with these figures. The photos date from the 1970s, during Edwardsen’s time at WQBK-AM, Albany. It is unclear where Edwardsen interviewed his guests, but the same sofa is visible in the Hope, Channing, and Rivers pictures. The pictures are somewhat bent with age.

Bob and Dolores Hope and unidentified dog

Cab Calloway

Carol Channing

Ed McMahon

Joan Rivers

Phyllis Diller

Post written by Ashley S. Behringer, Student Assistant