What’s in a name?

When dealing with an institution name change it can be a delicate balance especially for an Archive. It is important to embrace the new name and brand in order to move forward, but in the Archives history is just as important as the future. So, we have to find a way to represent the historic name and yet move forward with the rest of the University to embrace the new name. With that in mind we’ve established a guideline to help guide us through the name change.

Archives Guidelines on UMUC/University College Name

The name University of Maryland Global Campus became official on July 1, 2019. The branding and identification for the UMGC Archives website and web-based platforms was updated on September 30, 2019, along with the UMGC Library website. Because the Archives exists to document the history of the institution, any materials created before July 1, 2019, will retain the UMUC/University College name to accurately reflect the historical period in which they were created. Materials added to the Archives and Archives website/repository will be reviewed for their creation date, and only items that were created after July 1, 2019, will be identified as UMGC/Global Campus. The name UMUC/University College will be used in historical context when identifying and describing archival materials on the Archives website, repository, and blog. Postings on the Archives blog created before July 1, 2019, will also be left as-is to reflect the time at which they were created.

Munich Campus: Sporting Life

While processing the European Division publications, I found another Munich Campus Magazine. This magazine is quickly becoming my favorite publication that the university, its students, or faculty has published. The May 1987 edition includes a special feature on the University of Maryland Munich Campus basketball teams. The University of Maryland Global Campus is now known as an online university, but the Munich Campus in the 1980s emphasized student life, especially sports. In fact, the Student Activities Coordinator stated that “on any given day, there’s some kind of sports event or activity at Munich Campus.” It seems that staff and students at Munich Campus wanted the “typical college experience,” so much so that 80% of the student body participated in sports and/or activities with the university. Munich Campus hosted both intramural and inter-community sports. While the intramural sports and activities had the widest array of activities (including volleyball, darts, and Trivial Pursuit) and the largest number of participating students, the inter-community sports were the most competitive. Inter-community sports teams played in the Munich community leagues and Alpine League against other schools and community members. The 1986-1987 basketball season saw an undefeated season for the women’s team. I imagine the campus was a fun place to be with all of these activities to busy oneself!

Black Lives Matter

Systematic change cannot happen until every facet of a system is on board. Support from university faculty is important just as support from the university president is important. President Javier Miyares released an important statement on May 29th, and held a moment of solidarity on June 5th, during which faculty and staff shared videos, photos, signs, and statements of affirmation in support of equality and opposing racism and discrimination. We here in the UMGC Archives wanted to ensure we do not stay silent and we express our support, mirroring President Miyares’ statement.

Systematic racism is an insidious threat and it endangers the lives and success of Black people in this country. The death of George Floyd has sparked civil unrest that has put this on the forefront of our minds and actions. People around the world have protested, donated, signed protests, written to government officials, written policies, read, listened, and learned. But it must not stop here. We must continue the work. 

For archivist work, I looked to the Archives for Black Lives blog. Archives for Black Lives is a loose association of archivists, librarians, and allied professionals in the area responding to the issues raised by the Black Lives Matter movement. They stand in solidarity with the statement made by the Society of American Archivists and others who have spoken out. They also are holding institutions who have made similar statements in solidarity accountable to continue this work with concrete actions (I would recommend checking out their full statement here). For archivists wishing to ethically build collections around recent events, Archives for Black Lives recommends checking out Documenting the Now, a project from the University of Maryland, University of Virginia, and Shift Design, Inc. that develops tools and builds community practices that support the ethical collection, use, and preservation of social media content. 

For those individuals curious about what you can do to educate yourself, here is a brief list:

  • Check out Baltimore County Public Library’s Anti-Racist Book List. Many libraries are providing unlimited digital copies of anti-racist books for patrons. 
  • See a list of movies to watch to educate yourself about racism and protest history (many of which are currently available for no cost)
  • Check out additional resources (including videos, podcasts, resources for kids, and a list of organizations to follow on social media)  

From author John Lee Clark: “I often learn so much about a message in English by translating it and translating it back. ‘Black lives matter’ into ASL then translated back is ‘Black life is precious.’” Let our words, actions, and continuous work prove that we know and believe this. 

The European, October 1979

The European is a faculty publication from UMUC European Division, most issues written in the 1970s and 1980s. While processing publications from the European Collection, I found a copy of The European from October 1979 that includes articles, lectures, news, and even a poem from various faculty members. The poem (pictured below), titled Münchner Pastorale by Lilliam R. Klein, describes a picturesque, uncomplicated morning in Munich – the room flooded with sunshine, soft music playing, and coffee on the way. Sounds like the start of a peaceful day.

Munich Campus Magazine

I’ve been longing to get back into the Archives a little extra this week, so I thought about the project I was working on before UMGC began quarantine. I was working through an extensive European Collection (some of which I am processing from home), most recently diving into several boxes of publications where I found a few a few copies of the Munich Campus Magazine. One particular tribute issue put together a timeline of the school, it’s students, and what world events and pop culture affected them at the time. The authors of the issue broke the timelines into decades, showing readers how the school, the students, and the world has changed since.

Thankfully I snapped a few pictures of the issue so you all can see for yourselves:

The issue included articles, pictures, and short blurbs about the school and students. For example, a brief timeline here gives us information about the 1960s: style, dancing, changes to the newspaper, and changes to the school.

In one of my favorite images from the issue, students enjoy a 1970s toga party with a picturesque German stein of beer. (left) A timeline of events from the 1970s includes hairstyles, instructors, changing clubs, politics, and food prices – imagine a 10 cent pretzel! (right)

And finally: the 1980s. Changes to the school include tougher academic standards and a focus on “marketable skills” (left). The authors also included a picture of a Munich campus student hanging from the Berlin Wall after the fall of the Soviet Union. (right) 


Preserving publications like this one gives us tremendous insight into the changes of the university, but I think more importantly, into the changes of the students themselves. While we may still have toga parties today, we certainly aren’t paying 10 cents for a pretzel!

Collection Procedures During COVID-19

Many archivists are collecting COVID-19 pandemic-related materials to ensure we are documenting stories and history efficiently and reliably. UNC Charlotte University Archivist Katie Howell drafted a set of early documentation and procedures for COVID-19 related collections, procedures that have been rapidly adopted by other archivists around the country. The documentation has become the standard for archival repository outreach efforts. Unfortunately, archivists have become well prepared for traumatic experiences such as this, given the rise in events like mass shootings and natural disasters. But fortunately, this means that archivists can repurpose their response to events like this to gather documentation of first-person accounts of the pandemic we live in now. This means that archives are still able to function and operate with purpose while in quarantine, even if it looks different than it did two months ago. 

I dug into how the National Archives is operating during this time and similarly, they are providing services to the public but it looks a bit different. The online portal to digital records is available to researchers (and I imagine maintained even better than it was pre-quarantine) and National Archives staff are responding to reference questions and requests to records via inquire@nara.gov. But the biggest shift in their operation is holding in-person events online. The National Archives maintains a calendar of events to share their activities, all of which are now online. Some of my favorite events include: 

  • A program for 6-8th graders on WWI and WWII Victory Gardens    
  • A brief presentation for 4-6th graders on the U.S. Constitution 
  • A program for 3-5th graders on the Titanic 

Archives have been impressively adaptive during this period of time, always with the purpose of serving the community in mind. 

A brief aside – The Society of American Archivists runs a fun series called “There’s An Archivist for That!” featuring examples of archivists working in places we don’t expect, including archivists for organizations like Lululemon and Walt Disney. Check it out if you have some extra time!

What Do We Do Now?

What are archivists doing during quarantine? Many have turned their focus to digitizing collections from home, just as we have at UMGC. Others have changed their direction altogether. Some are teaching, focusing on archiving and activism from afar, or advertising and highlighting their digital collections, and still others have completely turned their focus to ensuring this time during our quarantine due to COVID-19 is well documented. This has included comparing this pandemic and response to the Spanish Influenza pandemic of 1918, urgent response collecting (in this case, calling for masks and other ephemera to document this historical time), and collecting journal entries, photos, art pieces, and any other writings in a “quaranzine” type collection. 
All of this is really important, now more than ever – whether it’s directly related to coronavirus or quarantine, or if it is just keeping up with digitizing. In all of this work though, I have realized that archivists are either seeking help from people or working hard for people. Many digital archives have seen an uptick in activity since the beginning of the pandemic. A research library in Chicago has seen 62 percent of their normal yearly visitors in the past two weeks. The Library of Congress’ By the People transcription project saw 5,000 more users this weekend than the weekend before quarantine started. This takes coordination. While these archivists are asking for additions and seeking visitors to their digital collections, there is bound to be a mass of collaboration needed. People reach out to ask questions, donate volunteer time or items, or respond to digital collections. This takes increased time and effort from archivists. But what actually stuck with me most is that no matter from where, people are seeking community in some way or another. And archivists, now more than ever, have the substantial but critical job of connecting our collections (and ourselves) with people.  

Helping from Home

A scholar sits, reading, atop a globe, the words "Global Campus" hang under the globe and "University of Maryland" runs vertically down the side.

Staying at home all the time can be really challenging, as we are all finding out! 

But there are things you can do to help our your local Archive from the comfort of your home.  No Covid-19 to worry about and you’d be doing a good deed. 

  1.  Help the UMGC Library by identifying people in photos 

Simply go to the UMGC Photo Collections: http://contentdm.umuc.edu/digital/collection/p16240coll4

Pick a collection and see if you recognize anyone.  If you do, go ahead and send a message with the name of the collection, name of the picture, and the name of the person (with some sort of identifier: second from the left, woman in the white hat, etc.) to: digitalrepository@umuc.edu

  1. Zooniverse

Zooniverse has a lot of different projects you can get involved in.  Everything from Arts to Medicine.  Pick a project and help out!  https://www.zooniverse.org/projects 

  1. Help the National Archives Tag and Transcribe Records 

https://www.archives.gov/citizen-archivist/missions/work-from-home

  1. Want to help COVID-19 research? 

https://hms.harvard.edu/news/crowdsourcing-covid-19

https://www.herox.com/covid19

Archiving in Quarantine

We are all experiencing a trying time – being locked away in our homes to prevent the spread of COVID-19 has not been easy or the most exciting. Those of us working remotely have had to be quite creative to be productive and to continue to do our jobs effectively. In Archives, one may assume you need to physically have your archival materials on-site to continue to do the work, but there is so much work that Archivists do that can be considered “behind the curtain” that we have been busy with in the past two weeks. For the next few weeks, we will share the life and times of an archivist when they are forced away from their collections. 

Archival materials are collected to be made available to the public. In this digital age, that means digitizing a lot of materials to be made available to students, teachers, staff, and researchers. This process can be done remotely – many archivists are spending this time to scan, upload, and add metadata to materials so as to make them available online. For UMGC, these materials include yearbooks, course catalogues, slides, photos, and other documents that students, staff, and researchers request regularly or are of high value to the University. 

I have been busy adding metadata to previously updated photos of President Ehrensberger’s travels to Munich in the 1950s (see some select photos below), meaning I’ve been adding the name, date, source, subject, location, and any notes available on a photo to our database to upload to the website for viewing. Without this information, people would not know what photos are and could not search for particular subjects as needed. President Ehrensberger took copious notes on his travel collections, including photos he took, so this has been tremendously helpful in adding the metadata for pictures which could have been otherwise deemed useless without this information. Pictures are worth a thousand words, but only if you know what they are of. 

Munich, Auto Parade, 05/1953
Munich, Beer Garden, 1953

Ehrensberger’s European Diary Part 3

After a couple of months, Dr. Ehrensberger finally was able to relocate his headquarters and included this handwritten note:

Despite the success of moving headquarters, Dr. Ehrensberger describes a deluge of difficulties involving registration, communication with professors and students, missing professors (who ended up being stranded in the Azores and unable to start teaching on the first day of classes), and delayed classes due to bases being on high alert that was only exacerbated by a barrage of bad weather, sickness, and unpleasant flights. He was able to return stateside for a couple of weeks, but notes that he worked just as hard at home as he did in Germany to settle several problems and host conferences and meetings to Maryland staff. In an attempt to distract himself from this stress upon returning to Germany, and do a bit of work figuring out the feasibility of opening Maryland programs elsewhere, Dr. Ehrensberger details traveling to Vienna and France, the latter where he happily describes boys on bikes delivering large orders of bread, some even circular and hanging off the handlebars. He is much more relaxed and at ease on these trips than his descriptions of working in Heidelberg, as I imagine the first few months in his position were aggravatingly chaotic.

Dr. Ehrensberger also describes the sense of panic in June 1950 after the North Korean invasion of South Korea that launched the Korean War. The soldiers in Germany were prepared for a Russian invasion in the West too, as the Soviet Union supported the North Korean army and the United States supported South Korea. Civilians were told to keep a bag packed at all times in case of immediate evacuation. Dr. Ehrensberger was even asked by a military companion if he wanted to stay behind and fight if needed, to which he replied that he would as long as he received a uniform. Luckily, this was not necessary, and Dr. Ehrensberger was able to travel to Switzerland for a short vacation where he was once again relaxed and able to try delicious Swiss cheese and visit Lake Geneva. This brief entry reminded me that Dr. Ehrensberger’s living in Germany was quite precarious and could at any time become a war zone once more.

The diary ends with Dr. Ehrensberger detailing his arrangements and trip home after 7 months in Europe establishing residence university centers throughout the continent. On October 3rd, 1950, University of Maryland President Harry Bird received a letter from Air Force Lieutenant General John Cannon congratulating and thanking Dr. Ehrensberger for his work in Europe. He notes:

The rapid and smooth implementation of this program, from the University point of view, is largely due to the untiring efforts of Dr. Ray Ehrensberger, who, as European Director for the past year, has very capably directed the rapid expansion of the various University centers.

This work mentioned by LTG Cannon was clearly described by Dr. Ehrensberger in his European Diary. While his job seemed unenviable – traveling, coordinating, and communicating across the European theater in 1950 suggest a nearly impossible task – some of his experiences – skiing in Garmisch, driving through the Black Forest, drinking beer at a sidewalk cafe in Paris, and eating freshly picked grapes in Athens – are every wanderluster’s dream. This was only the beginning of Dr. Ehrensberger’s work with the University and I hope to continue to stumble upon his memories and souvenirs to learn more about his travels around the world in the name of the University of Maryland.  

-Alex

Ehrensberger’s European Diary Part 2

Getting to read stories from 1950s Germany is quite an honor – I get a first hand account of one’s experience during a time I have only read about in books. Dr. Ray Ehrensberger’s diary is no exception. He was a vivid, descriptive, and humorous writer. He writes of Czech spies and cheap shopping, black market operators, and movie starlets. This is peppered with more work-related stories of how difficult it was to set up school headquarters throughout Germany and how tricky it was to communicate with teachers and military leaders. Upon arriving, he was promised headquarters in Heidelberg, but was not initially able to do so. He includes a short handwritten note in his diary on a day that details a bit about how tricky it was to get work done during his stay. I can only imagine trying to head a remote university system, navigating the language, and working in a war-torn country:

For many weeks, Ehrensberger writes of ironing out problem after problem across the country between the Germans, military personnel, and the University, including transportation, and worsening relations between the military I&E (Office of Information and Education) and Maryland professors. For example, he tells about managing some of teachers had not received pay for their teaching simply because it had been hard to communicate with professors in Berlin. While in Munich, he details a different, humorous problem with a general:

The general let me have it for an hour and a half about what was wrong with Maryland, and when a general tells you off there isn’t too much to say. However, I let him have it back and we both cussed rather profusely and ended up very good friends. Munich was really in a very bad state of affairs from the Maryland viewpoint, and our public relations here were about as low as Nurnberg. I told the general what I expected Maryland to do and he told me what the Munich military post would do, so I believe this situation can be solved.

While trying to iron out current problems, he also details trying to expand the University’s program in Europe and traveling to do so. He writes of when he traveled to Berlin, where American, British, French, and Soviet occupation made the city quite precarious, for residents and occupants alike. In fact, Dr. Ehrensberger tells of one of his companions that refused to go through the Brandenburg Gate on a visit with him because he had previous been detained by the Soviets for three days without food for accidentally wandering into the Soviet block. Dr. Ehrensberger also got to travel to London, where he writes of a successful expansion of the University’s expansion across the English Channel, but mostly about the bad food he had. In the name of expanding the University system, he was fortunate enough to travel to Tripoli, Rome, Paris, Trieste, Edinburgh, Athens, Dublin, Vienna, and got to fly over – and get lost in – the Alps (a rare feat only done under perfectly clear skies). Based on his description, Vienna was unique in that Americans and Russians both occupy and actually interact peacefully (at the start of the Cold War, that is quite an anomaly).

-Alex