Navigating the Early Modern Era in Special Collections

What do Shakespeare, Thomas Hobbes, and Galileo have in common? All three were among the most prominent figures of the Early Modern era, a time period lasting roughly from 1500 to 1700. The Early Modern era was a time of political and religious upheaval.  Catholics and Protestants battled with one another for power, and both France and England experienced bloody civil wars.  It was also a time of innovation.  Advancements in science and technology changed how people saw the world and writers such as Shakespeare contributed the period’s developing literary culture.

To learn more works printed in this era, check out our new subject guide – Early Modern Works in Special Collections!

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May Day in the Meany Labor Archives!

Today is May Day! Also known as International Workers’ Day. May Day is considered an international labor holiday. This post highlights some of the materials in our collections related to May Day. Much of our May Day material can be found in the May Day, 1885-1986 folder in the vertical file collection, and the Haymarket folders in the Morris B. Schnapper collection!

May Day was created by a resolution initiated by American Socialists at the International Socialist Congress in Paris, France, in July of 1889. The purpose of May Day was to gain support for an eight-hour work day. The Federation of Organized Trades and Labor Unions of the United States and Canada, precursor to the American Federation of Labor, and the Knights of Labor cooperated in preparing for a general strike in U.S. cities on May 1, 1886. And on that day, approximately 350,000 American workers went on strike, impacting over 11,000 businesses. Although workers in New York, Baltimore, Detroit, Milwaukee, and other cities participated, Chicago was widely considered the center of May Day agitation, largely due to Chicago being one of the few cities with broad union and radical solidarity in support of the eight-hour day.

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New Exhibit for Sexual Assault Awareness Month

This blog post and its accompanying exhibit in the main lobby of McKeldin Library chronicle the ongoing student activism at the University of Maryland, College Park (UMD) to create a culture that actively works to prevent power-based violence and support survivors of sexual assault.

Though sexual assault was not part of the public discourse at UMD prior to the 1970s, examples from the 1950s and 1960s highlight how sexual assault and rape culture impacted student life. This Associated Women Students Revised Dress Code from 1968 highlights the way that women were seen as responsible for the treatment they received based on their personal appearance, and how accepted standards of behavior based on gender roles often reinforced and obscured rape culture. Strict limitations on women’s conduct and dress connect to an ideal of purity and serve to prevent women from having sexual contact before marriage. Women were often blamed for any unwanted contact if they did not abide by these codes. Ideas like these often reinforce the idea that rape is result of the behavior or appearance of the victim, rather than the actions of the perpetrator. It is also important to note that these stark distinctions between men and women can often erase the fact that a person of any gender can be sexually assaulted.

Report from the Association of Women Students
Association of Women Students — Reports, 1954-1964. Division of Student Affairs records, 5.1.4. Special Collections and University Archives. University of Maryland Libraries.
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UMD’s Untold History

Have you ever heard of the College of Special and Continual Studies, or CSCS? Chances are, you haven’t. But it has a fascinating history. It was a significant part of the University of Maryland, beginning with its founding in 1947. Originally, CSCS was created to “coordinate the expanding off-campus” courses offered to officers at the Pentagon.

In 1949, CSCS became the first university to send faculty members, dubbed “the Original Seven,” overseas to Europe in order to provide education for the United States’ active-duty military personnel amidst the rubble of war-torn Germany, following World War II.

UMUC Van with hand lettering on the side - "University of Maryland Wants You, Army Education Center"In the 1950s, CSCS expanded its offerings, including providing more locations stateside, as well as opening the Atlantic Division and the Asia Division, where faculty taught soldiers in Japan and South Korea.

At the request of its Dean, Ray Ehrensberger, in 1959 the College of Special and Continual Studies was renamed University College (can you see where this is going yet?).

Fun fact: University College is a term borrowed from British usage; it describes an institution that offers courses to all students, regardless of gender, social class, or religion.

Now for the really exciting stuff: in 1963 “the first classes are held in Saigon as the university extends into a war zone in Vietnam. By the 1969-1970 academic year, enrollments in Vietnam reach 11,000….[and] every new professor has to agree to teach in Vietnam.” Can you imagine getting a new job and being told that your first position would be in a war zone? There was even a professor still in Saigon when it fell on April 30, 1975!

Photo of the Center of Adult Education on the UMUC campusFinally, in 1970, University College was, once again, renamed, becoming the University of Maryland University College, an independent and accredited institution, separate from the University of Maryland at College Park. That’s right, UMUC was originally part of the University of Maryland! In fact, the Center for Adult Education was built in October of 1964 to be used as the UMUC headquarters in College Park.

You can explore a more detailed history of the University of Maryland University College here: https://www.umuc.edu/about/mission-and-history/timeline.cfm

And for something even more interesting, you can watch our fascinating documentary “Over There: The Adventures of Maryland’s Traveling Faculty”: https://video.mpt.tv/video/over-there-the-adventures-of-marylands-traveling-faculty-qwxacw/

Map entitled "University of Maryland, University College, Global Campus, 1949-1964" indicating locations of overseas programs

All images are from the UMUC Archives


Post by Meaghan Wilson
Assistant Archivist, University Archives, University of Maryland University College

The Illustrated Wartime Correspondence of Hendrik Willem van Loon

One of my favorite duties as a graduate assistant is working the reference desk in the Maryland Room. Having only been a part of Special Collections and University Archives for less than a year, there are still a number of collections I haven’t seen, and helping others with their research is one way that I get to learn more about our holdings. Recently, a researcher introduced me to the illustrated letters of Hendrik Willem van Loon in the Helen Sioussat papers. I was delighted by the brightly colored, whimsical illustrations van Loon drew on the envelopes he sent Sioussat, and seeing them inspired me to learn more about the two friends, both of whom were compelling historical figures I knew little about.

Illustration of a whale on an envelope by Hendrik Willem van Loon, sent via airmail to Helen Sioussat in Nassau, Bahamas

Envelope from a letter from Hendrik Willem van Loon to Helen Sioussat, February 24, 1941

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Processing the Papers of a Maryland Environmentalist, Merilyn B. Reeves

In June 2016, Merilyn B. Reeves donated a collection of personal papers and publications to the University of Maryland’s Special Collections.  Reeves was a prominent member of the environmental movement in Maryland through her involvement in the League of Women Voters. She was Vice President of the League of Women Voters of Maryland and a member of the national board, where she was in charge of the Natural Resources Portfolio. Additionally, she was President of the American? Lung Association of Maryland and on the national-level board of the American Lung Association.  She tackled environmental issues such as the clean-up of the Chesapeake Bay and the Patuxent River and the defense of the Clean Air and Safe Water Acts before Congress, where she testified on several occasions. More locally, Reeves was a member of the West Laurel Civic Association and she acted as a tour guide for the Piscataway Wastewater Treatment and Patuxent River Water Filtration plants.

Reeves photo

Merilyn B. Reeves asking a question to Secretary of State Cyrus Vance at the League of Women Voters National Convention, May 1978

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Fifty Years Ago: Cynthia Rosenwald and the Newspapers’ Image of a Female Speechwriter

 Twenty years before Peggy Noonan and Mary Kate Cary – speechwriters for Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush, respectively – there was Cynthia Rosenwald. From 1966 to 1970, she formed a speechwriting partnership with Spiro T. Agnew, whose papers are housed within the Maryland and Historical Collections unit in Special Collections and University Archives at the University of Maryland libraries. Contained with the Agnew papers are manuscript speeches – some never delivered – which help illuminate the work of Rosenwald. She served as Agnew’s main speechwriter, throughout his years as Maryland’s Governor (1967-1968) and during the first year in which he served as Vice President (1969-1973). Continue reading