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Thomas B. Symons papers

 Collection 0144-MDHC
Thomas Baddeley Symons (1880-1970), a 1902 graduate of the Maryland Agricultural College, served the University of Maryland for almost seventy-five years. Symons's many offices included state entomologist, dean of the School of Horticulture, director of the Cooperative Extension Service, and dean of the College of Agriculture. He was active in numerous agricultural organizations, including the Maryland Horticultural Society, Maryland State Soil Conservation Committee, and both the National and Maryland State Grange. Symons was acting president of the University of Maryland for nine months in 1954, then a memeber of its Board of Regents from late 1954 until 1970. His papers contain correspondence, meeting minutes, conference programs, speeches, photographs, clippings, and other publications. Major topics covered in the collection include 4-H activities, the Maryland and National Granges, the Board of Regents of the University of Maryland, the Rotary Club, the Beta Kappa Corporation, and the State Soil Conservation Committee. The bulk of the materials document Dr. Symons's professional career after his tenure as acting president of the University of Maryland.

Dates

  • circa 1910-1969
  • Majority of material found within 1954-1969

Use and Access to Collection

This collection contains restricted material, please check the series and folder listings for additional information.

Duplication and Copyright Information

Photocopies of original materials may be provided for a fee and at the discretion of the curator. Please see our Duplication of Materials policy for more information. Queries regarding publication rights and copyright status of materials within this collection should be directed to the appropriate curator.

Extent

9.50 Linear Feet

253 Photographs

Scope and Content of Collection

The papers of Thomas B. Symons include materials dating from circa 1910 to 1969. The collection contains correspondence, minutes of meetings and conferences, meeting programs, copies of speeches, photographs, news clippings, and other publications. Major topics covered in the collection include 4-H activities, the Maryland State and National Grange, the Board of Regents of the University of Maryland, the Rotary Club, the Beta Kappa Corporation, and the State Soil Conservation Committee. The bulk of the materials document Symons's professional career after his tenure as acting president of the University of Maryland in 1954.

Biography

Thomas Baddeley Symons was born on September 2, 1880, in Easton, Maryland. He was reared on a 240-acre farm in Talbot County and later attended the Maryland Agricultural College (M.A.C.) beginning an almost seventy-five year association with the University of Maryland. He received his undergraduate degree from M.A.C. in 1902 and earned his master's degree from the college two years later, after additional graduate work at Cornell and George Washington Universities. Symons received an honorary degree of Doctor of Science from the Maryland State College of Agriculture in 1918.

Symons married Susie La Roche of Beltsville, Maryland, on April 10, 1907. Together they had three daughters, Helen, Isabel, and Josephine. At the time of his death, Symons's surviving family included his three daughters as well as seven grandchildren and six great grandchildren. After receiving his master's degree, Symons worked as an assistant in entomology at M.A.C. and was appointed state entomologist, a position he held until 1914. During his tenure as state entomologist, Symons represented Maryland at the Jamestown Exposition, held in 1907 to commemorate Virginia's tri-centennial. In 1912 he was named dean of the School of Horticulture, and in 1914 he also became the director of the Cooperative Extension Service. In 1937, Dr. Symons was appointed dean of the College of Agriculture while continuing as director of the extension service. He remained in both positions until his retirement from the university in 1950.

Symons was active in a number of agricultural organizations throughout his career. He helped organize the Maryland Horticultural Society and served as its secretary from 1903 to 1918. He also served as secretary of the Maryland Agricultural Society for six years. In addition, Symons was active in both the National and the Maryland State Grange, the State Soil Conservation Committee, and other national and local agricultural groups.

After retiring, Symons served as program director for agriculture for WBAL, a Baltimore radio station, and as director of public relations for the Suburban Trust Company.

In 1954, Symons returned to the University of Maryland at the request of the Board of Regents to serve as acting president, a position he held for nine months until the university completed its search for a new president. After his tenure as acting president, Symons resumed his work at the Suburban Trust Company and was appointed to the Board of Regents of the University and the state Board of Agriculture. In this position, he maintained his ties to the University of Maryland and lent his vast knowledge of campus history to new university president Wilson H. Elkins.

Symons retired from the Suburban Trust Company in 1964. Three years later he was awarded the Abram Z. Gottwals Memorial Award, the University of Maryland's highest Alumni honor. Symons remained a member of the Board of Regents until shortly before his death in July 1970 at 89 years of age.

Arrangement

The collection is organized as six series.
Series 1
Professional Correspondence and Documents
Series 2
Subject Files
Series 3
Subject Files and Statements
Series 4
Publications
Series 5
Personal Correspondence and Documents
Series 6
Photographs

Custodial History and Acquisition Information

The University of Maryland Libraries received an initial donation of materials from Dr. Symons in 1964; the date span of these records indicates that additional materials were given at a later date, but it is not certain when this occurred. Approximately half of this original accession was comprised of annual reports related to the Cooperative Extension Service, which were transferred to the records of the Cooperative Extension Service. Two volumes of congratulatory letters, prepared for Dr. Symons' retirement as dean of agriculture and director of the extension service in 1950, were transferred to the Libraries from the University of Maryland System Chancellor's Office in October 1991. A transfer of materials from Dr. John Davidson of the Department of Entomology included several files of correspondence and publications relating to Dr. Symons, which were added to the collection in April 1997. Additional materials were transferred to the collection from the University of Maryland System President's Office record group during the processing of the Symons series in 1997. Materials separated from various university archival record groups during processing were incorporated into the collection in January 2000.

Related Material

Correspondence and other materials relating to Dr. Symons' career at the University of Maryland can be found in a number of collections held by the Archives and Manuscripts Department. These include the records of the Cooperative Extension Service, the College of Agriculture, the University of Maryland System President's office, and the Board of Regents. In addition to a small amount of correspondence located in the records of the Department of Entomology, several photographs of Symons as a student and as a professor of entomology can be found within Series 4 of that collection.

Processing Information

Processing of the papers of Thomas B. Symons began in January 1998. One letter from William B. Sands, one of the first two graduates of Maryland Agricultural College, to the Honorable James T. Earle dated May 10, 1987, was removed from the collection for conservation treatment and eventual transfer to the Sands Collection. Two rolled photographs were sent for conservation treatment. Two molded volumes of correspondence relating to Dr. Symons's retirement in 1950 were photocopied and the originals discarded; the letters included in these volumes were kept in their original order and are arranged alphabetically by sender's last name within the files.

Other documents, including correspondence, annual reports, experiment records, contracts, and meeting minutes, were removed and transferred to the following collections: the records of the Agricultural Experiment Station; the records of the Cooperative Extension Service; the papers of H. J. Patterson; the Board of Regents record group; the invitations record group; and the university publications collection. More specific information regarding the nature of these transferred materials can be located within the provenance and processing statements of the guides to those collections. Memorabilia from the Symons papers, including pins, tickets, and a desk calendar were removed from and transferred to the Memorabilia Collection, items number 1119 to 1124. Photographs were transferred to the photograph collection.

Staples and metal paper clips were removed and replaced with strips of acid-free paper and plastic clips. All materials were placed in acid-free folders and acid-free boxes, and lastly, the guide was completed.
Title
Guide to the Thomas B. Symons Papers
Status
Completed
Author
Processed by Michelle Demartino
Date
1998-04
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
English
Script of description
Code for undetermined script
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English

Library Details

Part of the Special Collections and University Archives

Contact:
University of Maryland Libraries
Hornbake Library
4130 Campus Drive
College Park Maryland 20742
301-405-9212