Skip to main content

Special Collections and University Archives records

 Record Group
Identifier: 002-006-007-001


  • 1968 - 2012

Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open for public use with the exception of student records which are protected under the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA).

Biographical / Historical

In 1957, the State Teachers College at Towson opened its new library, and with it, the first room devoted to the archives and special collections of the college. Until then, college artifacts had been stored either in the President’s office in a cabinet or locked away in a safe depending on the value of the items. With the creation of the Towson Room, the college and library administration began to institute policies for the collection, restricting the items to official publications and photographs of the college.

At that early stage, the collection was overseen by a staff member of the library. Any exhibits that celebrated the history of the school were put together by library staff, including Merle Yoder, a 1924 graduate of the school who worked as the head of Circulation at the library for thirty-three years. She, along with the Library Director, Dorothy Reeder, collected items that people donated to the school, storing them in the Towson Room, but even that room proved to be too small. Oversized material was kept in a storage closet. Amy Winslow, an assistant librarian, was briefly in charge of cataloging and filing material that was transferred to the room.

Because of concerns about keeping up with increasing enrollment, a larger library was built in 1969 and again, accommodations were made for another Towson Room as well as a work room devoted to special collections and school archives. By this point, the library was also storing faculty and student publications in the Towson Room, as well as larger art books.

After 23 years as Library Director, Dorothy Reeder became the first official College Archivist in September of 1970 and the Department of College Archives was established. Reeder spent a semester traveling to other college archives and brought in consultants to advise her on the best practices for approaching Archives, and then began to set up a formal arrangement for the Archives. Her main concern as Archivist was reaching out to former students, faculty, and staff members to add items to the collection and to establish an organizational scheme. She worked closely with the Alumni Association to get the word out to former students who were interested in donating their memorabilia to the collection. Reeder reported directly to the President of the College.

Reeder retired in 1973 and the College Archivist position was then filled by History professor, Dr. Herbert Andrews. However, the Archives now fell under the auspices of the Library and its Director rather than the College President. And it was no longer a full-time position, but instead an addition to Andrews’ teaching duties. The Archives was manned for nine hours of every week until Andrews retired from the History department in 1991. He continued to work in Archives on a part-time basis until 1997, sometimes with student and intern help, and later, with the aid of a reference librarian who worked in the Archives for five hours a week.

Andrews’ chief concern as Archivist was defining the scope of the collection as well as creating a retention and transfer schedule for university records. This latter project would take nearly 15 years to complete, and was mandated by the Maryland State Archives. Andrews also reached out to faculty and alumni for papers and memorabilia, and worked with Baltimore City to obtain artifacts from the school’s former location at the Carrollton Avenue building, although he worried that the Archives would become something more like a museum and perhaps lose the focus of its mission.

In 1999, Nancy Gonce moved from her position as Head of Circulation in the library to University Archivist. During her tenure, she assisted Dean Esslinger with the publication of Towson University, a history of the school, in 2005. Gonce was also actively involved in Towson’s outreach effort in regards to preserving the papers and photographs of Paul Gantt, a Nuremberg prosecutor who left his collection to Towson. She retired from the University in 2006.

In 2007, Towson University hired its first formally trained and full-time archivist, Nadia Nasr, University Archivist and Digital Collections Librarian. The University also began plans to renovate and expand the existing Towson Room and special collections space, creating a climate-controlled closed stacks area for the collection, space for processing items, and a reading area for those wishing to research the collection’s offerings. A small conference room was added as well, giving the Archives display space.

The Archives currently houses non-current official University records, records pertaining to student organizations, alumni activities, and university publications. In addition, the Archives holds a large collection of school photographs and other memorabilia, and a few collections from non-university affiliates like Paul Gantt, former Maryland Governor Robert Ehrlich, and Maryland poet Marion Buchman. And with the merger of Towson University and Baltimore Hebrew University in 2009, the Archives acquired the Joseph Meyerhoff collection of rare books.


1.67 Linear Feet

Language of Materials



Series 1: Correspondence This series contains letters, memorandums, and e-mail between Dorothy Reeder, Dr. Herbert Andrews, and Nancy Gonce, TSC/TSU/TU archivists, and TSC/TSU/TU administrators, faculty, staff, students and alumni, archivists at other institutions, vendors, the press, state officials, and architects.

Topics include correspondence with donors about artifacts; information about school, personnel, and alumni history; artifact refurbishment and repair; establishing the collection of school records; recommendations regarding housing collections; archival practices among peer institutions; archival policies on TSC/TSU/TU campus; budget and staffing issues; establishment of record disposal and retention schedules; letters of correction to the press about school history; transfer of materials from one institution to another; loan of materials from one institution to another; supply management; and visitors to the Archives department.

Series 2: Archival policies This series contains drafts of a policy for the Department of College Archives; the draft for the Policy on Preservation of Items of Historical Interest from the University System of Maryland; the final version of the Towson State University Policy on Preservation of Items of Historical Interest; and an Overview of Acquisition Practice and Guidelines for University Archives.

Series 3: Frequently Asked Questions This series contains information relating to questions frequently asked of the Archives Department.

Topics include the name changes and locations of the school; the Principals and Presidents of the school; dates of construction and dedication for the buildings on the Towson campus; Principals of the Model Elementary School; and call numbers for various Towson publications.

Series 4: History Department Practicum This series contains memos from Mary Katherine Kahl to Dorothy Reeder establishing the history department practicum in the Archives Department; a proposal for a Masters in Preservation and Management of Historical Source Materials; and reports on past practicum students from the Maryland Historical Society.

Series 5: Exhibits and Publications This series contains material related to books published about the history of Towson University as well as materials used for exhibits mounted by the Archives Department.

Processing Information

Materials were removed in accordance with retention schedule: forms documenting active use; exhibit material past date of retention; documents with bank account information or social security numbers; and duplicates of records found elsewhere. Inventory lists were removed and placed in active Archives files. Correspondence is arranged chronologically.
Guide to the Special Collections and University Archives records
Felicity Knox (updated by John Esh, 2020)
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Towson University Special Collections and University Archives Repository

Albert S. Cook Library
8000 York Rd
Towson MD 21252 United States