What's in a name?
The University of Maryland Eastern Shore
has been known by a series of names reflective of its location, evolving role
and mission over a period spanning three centuries.
It opened Sept. 13, 1886 under the
auspices of the Delaware Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church. Benjamin
and Portia Bird welcomed nine students that first day to a converted farmhouse
on 16 acres at what was envisioned to be a feeder school for Baltimore’s
Centenary Biblical Institute, which became Morgan College.
Thirty-seven students were enrolled in the
Delaware Conference Academy at the end of the first year.
Black students could not enroll in the Maryland Agricultural College in College Park, which offered advanced instruction in farming techniques and related trades commonplace in the 19th century. So when Congress enacted the 2nd Morrill Act of 1890 committing funds to historically black institutions, the state of Maryland formalized a partnership with Morgan to help pay for “land-grant” education for blacks studying in Princess Anne.
By the turn of the century,
the school was widely known as Princess Anne Academy, although in some circles
it also was referred to informally as Morgan’s industrial branch. (The Colored American newspaper referred to the institution as Princess Anne Academy as early as 1895.)
The public-private partnership between the state and Morgan inspired yet another
change in nomenclature, at least according to state government archives: the
Eastern Shore Branch of Maryland Agricultural College.
The 1930-31 student handbook and course catalog describes the Princess Anne campus of that era as an "ideal location with (a) healthful climate (that) presents one of the most beautiful sites on the Eastern Shore."
In the midst of the Great Depression,
Maryland courts directed the state to admit qualified black applicants to its
publicly funded law school in Baltimore, a ruling historians believe hastened
Princess Anne Academy’s transition to becoming a public institution. Fifty
years after it opened, the school formally passed from church control to
state ownership with the first of four $25,000 installment payments – just as it
was evolving into a baccalaureate degree-granting college. Maryland’s flagship
campus in College Park was designated its administrative agency.
In 1948, the Eastern Shore Branch of the
University of Maryland, then alternately known as Princess Anne College, was
rechristened Maryland State College, a division of the University of Maryland.
Maryland State College became the University of
Maryland Eastern Shore* on July 1, 1970. At its 125th anniversary, UMES was among 12 University
System of Maryland public institutions of higher education, a vibrant, 753-acre
doctoral-research university preparing its graduates for the 21st century.
* - State government reorganized public higher education in 1988 and included UMES as part of the University of Maryland System ~ known today as the University System of Maryland.