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.

Strange Things Found in Archives Around the World

I came upon an article that highlighted an odd collection of photos from archives around the world which led me on a search of some other weird, wonderful, and fascinating items found in archives. Some of my favorites include:  

Ivan Unger, a member of the “Flying Black Nats” and Gladys Roy are shown playing tennis on the wings of an airplane in flight.

Original caption: April 17, 1928—A novel hour of entertainment was recently presented to the radio audience of the nation with the inauguration of the Michelin Hour, presented by the rubber tire manufacturing concern. The orchestra’s members are attired in grotesque fashion, as shown above.

A barely-bigger-than-a-quarter book about birds, published during the deadliest year of the Civil War, stored at the University of Maryland Archives.
A folding chair used by Barack Obama during his Rutgers commencement address.

Queen Elizabeth at a University of Maryland football game.

A memo warning campus police about an upcoming Ozzy Osborne concert on the UMD campus, citing the singer’s involvement with “abuse of animals” and “alleged satanic groups.”

Support Your Local Archives

Have you ever had questions about how to preserve old family photos? Want to know the history of your town’s oldest buildings? Do you need help finding old marriage records? Do you want to help your community document a particular time, maybe the COVID-19 quarantine? Your local Archive is just the place you need! As we know, Archives provide us firsthand information about the past. Many Archives are run by volunteers or a single archivist. This means that it can often be hard for the Archive to complete necessary work for the community it serves. That’s where we come in! Donating money to the Archives means they can buy photo scanners to upload photos and preserve them forever. They can buy acid free boxes, folders, and other tools that can be costly. They can pay for the website to publish their collection to better serve the community. Maybe you don’t have money to donate though. Donate your time! Volunteer with the Archives! They need help tagging, transcribing, and editing articles. They could use your help uploading and sharing photos. They may need help sorting and searching maps or other documents. This is time consuming, and archivists often do not have time and would love your help doing this meaningful work! Maybe you don’t have the time to volunteer though. Donate your old books, paperwork, art, and information! Do you have an old map of town? Do you have letters from the mayor to your grandfather? Have you been studying the town and want to share the information that you have gathered? The Archives would love to hear from you! Whatever you can do to support your local Archives, take the time to do so! They can only do their work with help from their patrons.

Pencils Only!

There are many rules in the Archives – wear gloves when you’re handling sensitive items. Do not add or erase items from records. No food in the Archives! But did you know we don’t use pens in the Archives? That’s right – pencils only! For one, pens are unforgiving. Mistakes are irreversible and edits cannot be made. Conservators frown upon the non-reversible nature! Additionally, pens are made up of oils that can bleed, smear, or otherwise ruin or contaminate the item you are writing on. So, we stick to pencils! We have special pencils specifically for plastic-coated surfaces (i.e. the backs of photographs), but your average #2 pencil is our go-to for everything else! So, if you ever visit the Archives, leave your pens at home.

The Perils of Working from Home

Working from home has a lot of challenges – keeping to your schedule, distractions from family, not to mention the general malaise that comes from all the bad news out there. 

BUT for archivists there is an added challenge.

Most of the time archivists work in a controlled environment.  A typical archive maintains a low temperature and low humidity, sealed doors (to reduce dust and help maintain the temperature), and no food or drink is allowed (save water in closed containers – and even those are kept on the floor and not near any archival materials). 

Most especially – no animals.

In working from home all that has gone by the wayside.  I’m in a room with windows that get sun in the morning and is on the 3rd floor.  That means humidity and temperature are not stable at all.

I’ve had to open windows, I’ve got carpeting (dust’s best friend) and my office door doesn’t close properly.  I’ve also had family members come into my office when I’m working – WHILE HOLDING FOOD. 

BUT none of this is as bad as my pets. 

I’ve got 2 cats and one dog, and they love me (and I love them) – but they refuse to leave me alone to work.  They MUST check on me.  Most of the time they bump my office door, it pops right open and in they come to beg for pets on top of my desk.  The few times I’ve actually gotten the door closed correctly they stand outside it and meow or stick little paws under the door.  And THAT is much more distracting than just having them in the room.

All this to say, the other day when I was scanning slides I found this…

A photo slide with a large cat hair across the middle of it.
A slide from the Ehrensberger Collection

No, that is not a crack in the slide.

Yes, that IS a cat hair.

Welcome to working from home.

Remote Efficiency

When schools, companies, and organizations began to shut their doors due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, archivists were prepared! The steering committee of the Society of American Archivists’ Accessibility and Disability Section quickly jumped into their Archivists at Home document to brainstorm some more ideas for archivists to continue their work remotely. This document already existed from a previous grassroots push for a collection of practices for archivists with disabilities who have to do their work from home part or full time, but they added to the document given our current state of the affairs. Amongst their lengthy list of ideas, they have drafted a set of suggested steps for closing an archive for any given amount of time, a list of activities archivists cannot do remotely, a list of things they can do from home, professional development ideas, and work and advocacy ideas for student workers. The list is extensive and I advise you all to check it out for future or current work! Some of the ideas that I had yet to consider include:

  • Reaching out to smaller archives to offer to share your knowledge, especially those still figuring out digital archiving (alternatively, reach out to different archives for advice or suggestions on how to improve your own practices!)
  • Designing a virtual tour of your collections that can be completed upon return to the archives
  • Starting a virtual book club or study group for archivists – this is an effective way to develop professionally and communicate with colleagues

UMGC will be remote through the end of 2020, which means I will be scanning, editing metadata, and writing blog posts until winter! But for those archives that are reopening, the SAA Accessibility and Disability team also compiled resources to quell the spread of the virus and guidance for reopening effectively.

From researching this document, the biggest thing I’ve learned is that archivists are resilient! And I am grateful that they are willing to share their wisdom, ideas, and expertise with the rest of the community. It reminds me that we are in this together, no matter where in the world you are. 

Courses of the Past

In an effort to make accessible all of the University of Maryland Global Campus’ past course catalogs, I have been busy scanning and uploading dozens of course catalogs that we have here in the Archives. We have a collection of course catalogs dating back to the 1940s, all of which are accessible for necessary use or simply for curiosity’s sake. You can find our collection, which can be searched by date and location, here. While scanning, however, I was curious about what sort of classes one could take throughout the University’s history. A short list of some of the most interesting classes can be found below. 

  • In 1965, stateside students could take a course titled “Philosophies Men Live By” in which students discussed the problems confronting the modern man.
  • In 1990, students at the Munich campus could take “Art Nouveau of Prague,” a niche class on Prague’s role in the art movement, focusing on artist Alphonse Mucha.
  • In 1979, students in Munich could take several courses on typewriting, including a class on office typewriting problems.
  • In 1981, the University’s Far East Division offered a class on the history of Japan, which included Shinto mythology and the rule of military overlords.
  • In 1963, students in the European Division could take history courses on the History of Russia pre-1917 and The Soviet Union starting with the Bolshevik Revolution. Students could also take Government and Politics courses on foreign policy with the USSR – clearly the Soviet Union was on everyone’s minds in the 60s. 
  • In 1977, stateside students were able to take a course on “The Adams Chronicles” on social history of the United States involving the Adams Family – John and Abigail Adams, John Quincy Adams, and their subsequent relatives. The class was entirely based on a PBS series of the same name.  

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!