Since the summer of 2019, a team of students, faculty members and staff have dedicated
themselves to uncovering, understanding and explaining the history and experience
of diversity at Towson University.
Founded as the Maryland Normal School in 1866, Towson University was a product of Maryland’s segregated school system and remained
racially segregated until after the United States Supreme Court struck down racial
segregation of public schools in 1954.
FRom Cook Library ARchives
Integration at Towson State College
The faculty and administration of Towson State College are deeply conscious of their
responsibility to strive for full integration of every aspect of the college at the
earliest possible moment. They view with satisfaction its record in this area in the
past. They promise a vital effort to fulfill their moral obligation to every person
or group who petitions the college whether it be a student seeking admission, a scholar
seeking the privilege of teaching, a worker seeking employment, or an athletic team
seeking a contest. We conceive of this moral obligation as a mandate, more binding
than a mere law, that an institution of higher education must be in the vanguard of
all institutions in destroying social barriers based on race, religion, or national
Discrimination can exist in a college or university on many levels. The most obvious
areas where it can be found are in the recruitment and admission of students, the
employment of professional and non-professional staff, and in the non-academic functions
of the college both internal and external.
“Report on Integration at Towson State College,” February 21, 1966, Towson University
Archives, Records of the Maryland Board of Trustees of the State Universities and
Colleges, 1963-1988, UA 00003, Box 2, Folder 3.
Even after the university began to integrate in 1955 African Americans struggled to
find full equality. Black students, faculty, administrators, and their white allies
fighting against the structural racism and racial prejudices of the period worked
exhaustively to make TU their own as well through the second half of the twentieth
century and still today.
Inspired by efforts at other American colleges and universities to come to terms with a legacy of racial inequality
in American high education, a team of Towson University researchers has begun a multi-year project to investigate
and publicize this institution’s exclusionist past and its ongoing efforts to diversify.
The Unearthing Towson’s History Project is an interdisciplinary collaborative effort
that centers students as researchers and interpreters and connects alumni and the
wider community to the university.
The team’s goals are:
- Investigate the history of intersectional diversity including not only race and male/
female gender but sexuality, complex gender, class, and ethnicity
- Gather the stories of current and past Towson students, faculty, and staff’s experience
- Record oral histories of those associated with Towson University’s past
- Digitize and make resources relating to diversity at Towson University available to
the wider community
- Share these stories with the wider public through online exhibits, blog posts, and resources
- Become a resource for the wider Towson University community to learn about and preserve
- Partner with area institutions to situate Towson University’s experience in the wider
Tell your story
Did you attend Towson University? Were you a faculty or staff member? We’d love to
hear your story.
The project is a collaboration between the Albert S. Cook Library Special Collections and University Archives, the Department of History, and the Office of Inclusion and Institutional Equity with the support of the Office of the President and the Office of the Provost. Unearthing
Towson's History Project is a member of the Universities Studying Slavery
Christian Koot, History Department
Ashley Todd-Diaz, Assistant University Librarian for Special Collections and University
Brian Jara, Inclusion, and Institutional Equity
Akim Reinhardt, History Department
Ally Lawrence '21
Catherine Campbell ’19
Peyton Cleary ’20
Sara Cantler ’19
Jasmine Thomas ’19