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History of UMBC

This guide contains information about the available resources for conducting research on the history of UMBC's origins, people, departments, and traditions.

Option 1

Public Spaces and Public Art:

Historical Context:  explore public art as a movement, particularly in the last 50 years. Is there any scholarship on campus art in particular?

Relevant Sites on Campus

  1. Joseph Beuys Sculpture Park (this was part of a national movement)
    1. Opened 2000/2001
    3. 7000 Oaks:
  2. True Grit Sculpture
    1. Sculpted by UMBC alumna Paulette Raye in 1987
    2. Currently located on Academic Row across from the UC while the RAC plaza is under construction
  3. Withering Tree Trunks near Fine Arts
    1. From The Retriever (vol. 11, no. 2): “’Mnemonic’ is a collection of steel trees in various stages of being chopped down. The sculpture is a statement that perhaps speaks to the construction of the students commons [the University Center] going on next to it. It is the work of Marc O’Carroll a sculptor who worked and studied here. The piece was made in our own studio and its construction took almost two years of dedicated labor."
  4. Forum by Thomas Sayre (PAHB)
    1. CIRCA announcement by Tim Nohe
    2. installed 2014
  5. Community Garden
    1. The Garden on myUMBC
    2. UMBC Community Garden wins SGA Prove-it grant funding
    3. Opened 2014


Option 2

Option Two:

Campus Architecture: 

Historical Context:  explore the late 20th century trend toward suburban campuses; the timing (late 1960s/early 1970s) seems significant; what is the relationship to growing urban unrest, continuing agitation around race and civil rights?

The campus master plan can provide insight on the official vision of the campus development: Other resources include the President's office records, the Albin O. Kuhn papers, press releases and news stories, and selections from oral history interviews with Kuhn and Guy Chisholm (first head of the physical plant), university photographs, campus maps.

  1. Biological Sciences
    1. One of first 3 constructed buildings on campus when UMBC opened in 1966 (w/Lecture Hall I and Gym I)
    2. 1996: housed all faculty offices, classrooms, and the library space
    3. 2014: first floor mural completed
    4. Named in honor of Martin Schwarzt, plaque installed in Thomas Marsho Garden (along Academic Row). Marsho was a faculty member tragically killed in a car accident in 1982/3(?)
  2. Administration  Building
    1. Opened 1973
    2. Style of the building has been cited as evidence that the campus administration chose certain features to combat campus/student riots
  3. Library
    1. Phase I opened 1968; Admissions/Financial Aid, Special Collections, Gallery, Honors College, and part of Serials currently occupies
    2. Phase II opened 1974; RLC and Serials currently occupies
    3. Tower opened 1997
    4. Won award from Baltimore chapter of the American Institute of Architects in 1975 (
    5. First building on campus to be named in honor of someone
  4. The Commons
    1. Opened 2001
    3. Built on location of Gym I, one of the 1st buildings on campus

Option 3

Option Three:

UMBC and its relationship to surrounding neighborhoods/development: 

Historical Context:  explore the history of Arbutus/Catonsville; what was the impact on the area of the development of a state park?; highway construction?; campus development?

  1. Research Park construction (conflict)
    1. From UMBC Magazine, Fall 2009: The Best of Both Worlds: How a decade-long battle over bwtech@UMBC Research and Technology Park created a thriving link between campus and business and a dedicated green space for research and teaching.
    3. Related: Conservation and Environmental Research Areas (CERA)
  2. Extension of I-195
    2. Highway expansion in Maryland during the 1960-80s included I-95, I-70, I-395, and many others.
    3. Example of file in the University Archives:
      Box 31 Folder 41 Physical Plant: Access from I-95 to UMBC 1972
    4. In an oral history interview with Dr. Kuhn, he talks about support for the campus from Gov Tawes [this may be about I-95 or I-195 - I'm not sure!]: One little illustration, we wanted, I95 wasn’t built then. It was all laid out, it was all ready to go, contracts were ready to be put on the market. There wasn’t any outlet for UMBC. There wasn’t any outlet for Catonsville. There wasn’t any, any way to get in here directly. You’d have to go into the Beltway and around and come around. And, I told Governor Tawes, and it seemed to me this was, we were going to get to be a pretty large campus one of these days, and this was sad to build a new highway beside it, a big highway, and not have an outlet that fed right into the campus. And I can remember, after we talked for a while, he buzzed and asked that Mr. Funk, Mr. Funk was the Director of… What’s the official name of the group, it’s in the… Anyhow, the highway commission, he was the man responsible for pushing all the projects on the highway, on roads and that sort of thing. And, Mr. Funk came in and he said, Governor Tawes said, “How far along are you?” “Oh, we’re just about done, we don’t want anymore projects.” He said, “You’re gonna have to put, you’re gonna have to put one in to, to have access to UMBC.” [UARC 2009-49-17]
  3. Stabler Farm Plaque and/or Silo
    1. Stabler family papers
    2. Historical note: Edmund Stabler, senior member of the Stabler family, was superintendent of the Baltimore Manual Labor School from 1884 to 1904. During his tenure, he was credited for bringing the school to its highest standards through innovative learning techniques which combined study and farming. His wife, Hester Ella Stabler, taught at the school. She was a graduate of the Maryland State Normal School, which is now known as Towson State University. Edmund Stabler died at his home on June 3, 1905 and was survived by his wife and six children. In 1916, the Baltimore Manual Labor School was destroyed by a fire. The University of Maryland Baltimore County now occupies the site where the Baltimore Manual Training School once stood. The Albin O. Kuhn Library rests on the property of the Stabler Family.
    3. Another excerpt from a different Kuhn oral history interview: Well, when they got the road network laid out the silo would not be in the way. There was an old house up there at the barn, but the silo would not be in the way. And those are fairly heavy concrete things to remove, and I said, “Well, let thing stand. It won’t bother anybody and it will be sort of a memory of the fact that this once was used as a farm for the Spring Grove, for the…” I started to call them inmates. You really don’t call them inmates anymore. “…patients to have therapy in helping them to come back to full livelihood.” And so we just left it. And it did save a little money in the process of destroying and clearing the path. [UARC 2009-49-18]