Introduction

Photographs selected for this website are from the University of Miami Historical Photographs Collection housed in the Special Collections Department of Richter Library.  This extraordinary collection is the jewel of the University Archives.  The University Archives also includes official publications, yearbooks, newspapers, magazines, sports and fine arts programs, scrapbooks and personal papers of faculty and staff - virtually any printed material that contributes to the University of Miami story.  Materials that document what it was like to be a UM student at a particular time are of special interest.  Donations of materials to the University Archives are encouraged. 

In addition to the outstanding array of historical photographs and other print-based materials, the site also incorporates multimedia files, including oral histories, special events, and others of historical interest.  You are invited to explore this website celebrating the history of the University of Miami often. We expect development and revision of the site to be ongoing.

The inspiration for this website was a Richter Library exhibit developed by Tina Surman and Ruthanne Vogel in celebration of the University's 75th Anniversary.  This site is the product of the efforts of two University of Miami librarians. Lyn MacCorkle was responsible for the database development and web design, and Ruthanne Vogel worked with item selection and provided the historical research for the textual content.

Craig Likness
Head, Archives and Special Collections
UNIVERSITY OF MIAMI LIBRARIES, University of Miami
July 24, 2002

On a beautiful February day in 1926, 7,000 people gathered to celebrate the laying of the cornerstone of the University of Miamiís first building, named in honor of the late Reverend Solomon Greasley Merrick. No one was prouder than his son, George E. Merrick, founder of the new City of Coral Gables. In December 1921, just one month after he sold the first lot in what he advertised as "Miamiís Master Suburb," he announced that someday Coral Gables would be "Miamiís University Suburb." Now, five years later, his gift of 160 acres in his Riviera Section and $5 million, to be matched by an equal sum from other sources, assured the Universityís birth.

[But] the much-praised University almost didnít happen. The faltering economy slowed both the buildingís construction and the promised donations. Then on September 17, 1926, a killer hurricane dashed all hope for completion of the grandiose campus. Despite these setbacks, that could have easily been the schoolís death knell, one month later, the brand new University of Miami opened in a half-finished apartment hotel. "What was left," author and environmentalist Marjory Stoneman Douglas wrote later, "were such foundations of buildings or ideas as had been well and truly laid."

Today, just as Merrick and the first Board of Regents envisioned 75 years ago, the original campus has grown to 260 acres and expanded to three other campuses. The University educates an impressive group of more than 13,000 students whose international backgrounds fulfill the foundersí greatest dreams. It was a circuitous path to greatness to be sure, but as President Foote wrote in his 1987 Annual Report, "One theme is clear: From the beginning, this institution has attracted the uncommon confidence and support of visionary people."

Excerpted from The Pathway to Greatness. Building the University of Miami : 1926-2001 by Arva Moore Parks