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Given that University of Maryland is over 100 years old, there’s quite a bit of history to be told. So sit back and relax as I tell you ten historical facts about University of Maryland.

1. UMD was originally known as the Maryland Agricultural College

It was founded in 1856. In 1859, the first 34 students enrolled in the college and the school became a land grant college in 1864.

2. The Maryland Agricultural College played an important role in the Civil War

Just a few years after it was founded, the college played an important role during the Civil War when it hosted troops of both sides. General Burnside and 6,000 soldiers of the Union Army’s 9th corps camped on the campus during the Spring of 1864. Just a few months later, General Johnson and 400 Confederate troops camped out while preparing to invade Washington. Legend has it that they were welcomed by the Confederate sympathizing president of the university.

3. On November 28th, 1912, a fire started in the new administration building and eventually burned down the entire campus

This was allegedly due to faulty electrical wiring in the attic. The 80 students on the premises evacuated safely and formed a bucket brigade to help fight the large fire. Fire departments nearby were called, but it was too late. By the time the fire finally burned out, it had destroyed the barracks were the students lived, all the school records, and most of the buildings on campus. Morrill Hall was the only building left standing (and is still being used today).

4. During WWII, the university was one of over 100 colleges that took part in the V-12 Navy College Training Program

This program was designed to generate large numbers of officers for both the U.S. navy and Marine Corps. Students would enter college seeking degrees that the navy wanted and enter into the navy as officers as soon as they graduated.

5. Maryland was integrated before Brown vs. Board of Education

This occurred in 1951 when the first Black students were admitted. Brown vs. BOE wasn’t until 1954.

6. Wilson H. Elkins is credited with improving academic standards

The first year his new Academic Probation plan came into effect, almost one out of five students faced expulsion due to poor academic records.

7. Maryland State College became officially known by its current name, the University of Maryland, College Park in 1988

This was after the Maryland General Assembly named it the flagship institution of the University of Maryland system.

8. The September 24, 2001 tornado killed 2 students and caused over $15 million in damages to the campus

The two students were picked up in their car and thrown over a dormitory building, landing in a tree. All the windows were blown out in the yet to be commissioned Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center.

9. Testudo the turtle has a troubled history

In 1947, students from Johns Hopkins University stole the turtle and carried it back to Baltimore. Maryland students traveled to Baltimore to take back the turtle and a riot erupted after Maryland students lay siege to the building where Testudo was kept. It took over 200 police officers to quell the riot. Then recently in 2013, the Testudo in front of Mckeldin library caught fire during finals week. The turtle was not harmed and people offered it bandages and burn cream.

10. The UMD Peace Garden was created to remember victims of the 9/11 attacks

The garden was created on the site where flowers had ben buried following their placement on the fountain on September 12, 2001.



Computer Science student at the University of Maryland. Bibliophile and enjoys trying new things and hanging out with friends.

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