Have you ever been curious about the history of Midnight Madness? Have you heard talk of the women’s rifle team, which ruled women’s athletics in the 1920s and 1930s? Or perhaps you want to know just how big a size 18 basketball shoe really is.
Visitors to the Maryland Room in Hornbake Library now have the chance to learn more about university athletics through a special exhibit on display until September 18th. The exhibit features milestones in both men’s and women’s athletic competition at the University of Maryland and pairs interesting material objects with related photographs. For example, action photographs from a track meet in 1914, only three years after intercollegiate competitions in track and field began, sit in front of an original 1913 trophy from the Georgetown Relays.
One of the University Archives’ most fragile items can also be viewed here: a flag from the football team’s surprise victory over Michigan State in 1950. The team captured at least two flags from MSU and brought them back to Maryland. The flag in our collection includes signatures of the football team members, coaches, and staff, as well as university president Curley Byrd. Other football highlights include three helmets worn at different times in the 20th century, making obvious the drastic changes in helmet design and safety since the early 1900s.
Developments in women’s athletics feature prominently in the exhibit. For the first female students on campus, opportunities for recreation consisted of intramural competition in sports like tennis, basketball, and field hockey. In the 1920s, the women’s rifle team became the first to engage in competition with other schools. The teams did not travel, but rather transmitted scores via telegraph and exchanged their bullet-riddled paper targets through the mail! Since Title IX and the expansion of women’s varsity teams, many of UMD’s team have achieved national prominence – including women’s basketball, field hockey, and lacrosse.
The University Archives’ Athletics Collections contain much more than what’s highlighted in this exhibit. Documentation about the history of various sports on campus, in addition to statistics, programs, and media guides comprise the majority of the paper records. Many memorabilia items (such as t-shirts, bumper stickers, and gameday tickets), hundreds of trophies, thousands of photographs, and over 10,000 film reels and videotapes can also be found in the collections.
Most of the items on display are donations from university alumni or transfers from the Athletics Department. To find out more about these materials or other items in the collection, or to inquire about donating materials, please contact Athletics Archivist Amanda Hawk at firstname.lastname@example.org.