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Five unique items from the Hoover Library archives

“Living” may not be the first word that comes to mind when we think of archives, but for Gwen Coddington, archivist and special collections librarian for McDaniel's Hoover Library, the shelves of objects and documents represent the many people, places, and lives on the Hill since 1867.

The head of the 90s Green Terror mascot head is displayed next to a WMC dining tray.

From dining trays to mascot suits, the Hoover Library archives reflect the college's history — sometimes in surprising ways.

Tucked away in Hoover Library, in climate-controlled rooms and up a spiral staircase, live the McDaniel College archives.

“Living” may not be the first word that comes to mind when we think of archives, but for Gwen Coddington, archivist and special collections librarian, the shelves of objects and documents represent the many people, places, and lives on the Hill since 1867.

With Coddington’s expertise, we combed the archives for objects that give us a glimpse of the eras and evolution of what began as a humble school on a hill.

1. WMC Dining Tray

Photo of WMC dining tray with tiger mascot and WMC in the corner.

One of the most unassuming items in the archives, this dining tray might just bring back the sweetest memories for many Green Terror alums.

Before the early 2000s, a snow day on campus meant the dining trays in Englar Dining Hall (affectionally known as Glar) got an alternative — and contraband — purpose: sledding. For more than a century, McDaniel’s hilly terrain has made it irresistible to students and Westminster locals on snow days.

“If they have not done so already, no student has lived until they try sledding down the slopes of the golf course on a Glar tray,” wrote Dave Robertson ’09 in The Free Press, 2007-2008.

While students didn’t have the college go-ahead to use the trays, it was common for them to relive their childhoods by sliding down campus slopes on a makeshift sled. Although not the most aerodynamic, the tray-sleds were simply tradition.

The trays were likely introduced when Glar opened in 1968. By 2010, they were phased out as part of the college’s Climate Action Plan. “What am I supposed to sled on?” asked Nathan Wuertenberg ’12, managing editor of The Free Press in 2011-2012. Although students now have to find sleds in other places, retiring the dining trays resulted in 40% less food waste at the college.

2. ’90s-’00s Green Terror Mascot

The head of the 90s Green Terror mascot suit.

2023 is the 100-year anniversary of the first use of “Green Terror” to describe our students. The phrase referred to the ferocity of our football team in the 1920s and soon caught on as the college mascot. The Green Terror has been depicted as a bobcat, tiger, and bear — or a combo of all three — but remains as undefinable as our students.

The 1990s-2000s Green Terror might be the most terrifying version, with a face only a mother could love — and, in fact, did. This paper mâché and faux-fur mascot head is rumored to have been created by a student’s mother, and while the name of that crafting Green Terror parent isn’t in current records, her legacy lives on in the archives.

“The Green Terror is not a thing,” said the late Donna DuVall Sellman ’45, the former director of alumni affairs. “It’s a state of mind of commitment to excellence and performance.”

If you remember the ’90s-’00s mascot and may know who created it, get in touch.

3. Western Maryland College Rules and Regulations

Photo of the Western Maryland College Rules and Regulations.

These rules and regulations, circa the late 1800s, offer a snapshot of the college’s earliest era as one of the first coeducational institutions in the nation. Characterized by curfews, mandatory dinners, and strict rules for male and female student comingling, the early college is unrecognizable from today’s after more than a century of change.

Take, for example, rule number 18: “No games shall be indulged in except as are sanctioned by the Faculty.”

With modern courses like “Unseen Math in Puzzles and Games” and student organizations for activities like esports and chess, today’s faculty sees game-playing as more useful to learning than ever (in and out of the classroom), and they're all for independent student initiatives.

4. Doonesbury Comic Covers

Photo of colorful marketing booklets with Doonesbury comics on the covers.

These bold, bright covers featuring Doonesbury comic strips resulted from a serendipitous college connection. Back when Garry Trudeau, Pulitzer-prize winning cartoonist and creator of Doonesbury comics, was attending Yale University, he was roommates with young Robert H. Chambers, who became seventh president of McDaniel. During Chambers’ presidency at the college (1984-2000), Trudeau agreed to the use of his comic strips on promo materials in the ’80s and ’90s. Trudeau was also awarded an honorary degree from the college in 1984.

Doonesbury comics center on a group of college students at the fake Walden College, tracking their lives over the next 50 years. U.S. President Gerald Ford said, “There are only three major vehicles to keep us informed as to what is going on in Washington: the electronic media, the print media, and Doonesbury — not necessarily in that order.”

That may be the reason why the college tied the humorous comics to their info booklets.

5. T-Shirt from the Defining Moment Campaign

Black t-shirt with a stylized green and yellow drawing of the memorial arch and text that reads The Defining Moment, Western Maryland College.

The ’90s just called. They said they’re glad their fashion is making a comeback.

It’s a blast from the past: from font to design, this T-shirt looks like it came right out of our ’90s yearbooks. With the launch of McDaniel’s new strategic plan under President Julia Jasken, “Reaching New Heights,” this shirt is a throwback to earlier plans and campaigns. The Defining Moment was the college’s first major comprehensive fundraising effort under President Robert Chambers in 1996.

Archivist Gwen Coddington suspects that this shirt may even have a 3D effect with the right glasses — if you remember 3D fashion from your time in college, let us know.

Thank you to Gwen Coddington for her time and expertise on this story.