After discussions about the history of gender and racial exclusion on campus, as well as the fact that the University may have been partially built by slaves, as were many institutions in the 19th Century (this is a contested issue at UMD). Our class brainstormed which parts of campus might illuminate more of this history, and decided to look at Morrill Hall because it was the oldest extant building on campus. We thought it might provide some insight into the past, giving us a better understanding of the lived experience of women and racial minorities on campus.
Were there segregated bathrooms in Morrill Hall? How were the bathrooms gendered over time? Is there any clue to this history in the location and form of the bathrooms as they are today? Are there other parts of the building that raise questions about these issues? Can we discover this history through historical floor plans, blueprints, photos, or other sources? If so, where can we find these materials?
With these questions in mind, part of the class visited Morrill Hall and took pictures and audio recordings. Others visited the University Archives in Hornbake Library in order to talk to the University Archivist and locate materials relevant to the research subject. In an attempt to located historical blueprints, another person called the University Facilities Office and discovered the existence of old blueprints, which became very useful for our project.