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Friday, May 22, 2015
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Beanies of the Big Ten

Anne Turkos and Robert Headley of the University Archives have pulled together a history, complete with digital images, of the lost tradition of beanie-wearing by freshman at UMD. This online exhibit is part of a larger exhibit, called "Hats Off!" organized and hosted by the Ohio State University Archives, that includes images and the history behind other Big Ten beanie-wearing traditions. 

The tradition of wearing freshman caps began at the Maryland Agricultural College even before the cadets were allowed to abandon their mandatory military-style uniforms. The first evidence of beanies appeared in the 1912 Reveille yearbook, in a sketch depicting a becapped sophomore lighting the way for the incoming freshmen, known as “rats.”

The precise date for the end of the beanie tradition at the University of Maryland is unknown, but it seems likely that the beanies were likely a victim of the rising tide of rebellion on the campus in the late 1960s, as students began an extended series of protests against the Vietnam War and increasingly rejected the strictures of the university’s in loco parentis control.

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The university's membership in the Committee on Institutional Cooperation, the academic arm of the Big Ten, became effecitve this month.