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

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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

African-Americans in the Early Labor Movement

DYK that labor unions did not allow African-Americans to become members back in the day? Being a member of a union was important to be able to bargain for workers’ rights and fight against the discrimination that black workers faced. Many skilled black workers sought to join unions affiliated with the American Federation of Labor (AFL) between 1881 and 1915. But, white craft union members, who were primarily affiliated with the AFL, were afraid of the competition and didn’t allow African Americans to join. On the other hand, industrial unions were more accepting of black workers.

The Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters (BSCP) union members pose with locomotive firemen, ca. 1940. AFL-CIO Photographic Print Collection (RG96-001)

Who were early allies?

The Knights of Labor, the AFL until 1915, the United Mine Workers of America, the International Longshoreman’s Union, and the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW).

Some black workers allowed to join:

The Teamsters, the Cigar Makers, the Hotel and Restaurant Employees, the Carpenters, and the Printers.

Very few black workers allowed to join:

The Pressmen, the Lithographers, the Photo-Engravers, the Iron Steel and Tin Workers, the Molders, the Pattern Makers, the Glass Workers, the Boot and Shoe Workers, and the Wood Workers

For more information about the relationship of the civil rights movement and the labor movement, visit our exhibit “For Liberty, Justice, and Equality: Unions Making History in America” in person or online or email us at askhornbake@umd.edu.


Jen Eidson is a Special Collections Processing Archivist in the University of Maryland Libraries.

An Archive of International Gifts:  Objects from the Spiro T. Agnew Papers (A Blog Series: Part 3)

As stated in an earlier blog post, members of the Maryland and Historical Collections unit at the University of Maryland libraries have been inventorying physical objects within the Spiro T. Agnew papers.  One of the interesting aspects about processing a presidential or vice presidential collection is its inclusion of gifts from foreign leaders. The Spiro T. Agnew papers, for example, includes numerous  gifts to the Vice President of the United States from Mohammad Rezā Pahlavi, who was the last Shah (or king) of Iran between 1941 and 1979.  It is difficult to say whether this relationship extended beyond what was typical of two government officials during the Cold War, but it is clear that Agnew received gifts and commemorative literature from Pahlavi on several occasions. Increased American involvement in Iran dated to at least the early 1940s, Continue reading

Curator’s Choice: Favorite Item in the Labor History Exhibit

For the past year I have helped co-curate the Labor History Collections exhibit, “For Liberty, Justice, and Equality: Unions Making History in America.” It has been an exciting and rewarding experience that has taught me so much about the vast history of the labor movement. One of the displays that I designed and installed was “Labor, Recreation, and Rest: The Movement for the Eight-Hour Day”. While looking through the vast Labor History Collections here at University of Maryland, Special Collections and University Archives, I came upon a very odd and fragile document. At first I did not know the significance, only that it was House Resolution 8357 and was approved by President Harrison on August 1, 1892.

H.R. 8357, 1892

House Resolution 8537, the first federal resolution for the eight-hour workday.

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