For East Lansing residents, Grand River Avenue is the place to turn to for almost anything, from bookstores to restaurants to college bars. Its sidewalks are almost always bustling with students walking to class, business men and women meeting for lunch, and enthusiastic Spartans heading …
For most people, Detroit is known as the Motor City. With the big three companies situated around the city, Detroit is a proud producer of automobiles for customers all over the world. However, what people don’t know is that cars aren’t the only product that Detroit was once famous for. Even before the first Model T rolled off the assembly line and on to the city streets, Detroit was known as the “Stove Capital of the World.” Because of Michigan’s abundance of natural resources, the 19th and 20th century would prove to be an industrious time period for Michigan; the large amount of cast iron stoves produced in Michigan during this time is a clear indication of this. There were many stove producing companies within the state, but the “big three” included the Detroit Stove Works, Michigan Stove Company, and the Peninsula Stove Company.
So why is this important? As you may already know, the Campus Archaeology staff spent part of this past June at the Saints’ Rest site, digging under the sidewalks and eventually expanding to a trench. Saint’s Rest was the first dorm to be used on the MSU campus, and it stood between the years 1856 and 1876, until it (sadly) caught on fire and burnt to the ground. The site was first excavated in 2005 by CAP, and we have continued working on it since then.
This summer, we were thrilled to discover a piece of a (very rusted and burnt) stove door at the Saints’ Rest site. It’s not very large, and with the large amount of rust on it it’s hard to make out many features. However, we do know it says “Detroit Mich” on the center of the door, and the number 25 is on the bottom edge. Because Saints’ Rest burnt down in 1876, we know that the stove had to have been manufactured and used before 1876. This is interesting, because the Detroit Stove Works wasn’t founded until 1864, and the Michigan Stove Company was founded in 1874. This probably means that the stove we found on campus was probably one of the first stoves to be made in Michigan for it to have been on campus the day Saints’ Rest burnt down in 1876.
This is one of the coolest parts about historical archaeology. We can take written and recorded accounts of what was going on at a certain point in history and compare it to the artifacts we find. This comparison then helps us to fill in the gaps between what is written and what is found. The stove door we found is an example of this. From the writing on the door, we know it was manufactured in Detroit, Michigan. From there we can figure out that it was probably made from either the Detroit Stove Works company or the Michigan Stove Company. We also know the stove lived a short life – it was manufactured in the late 1860s to early 1870s, and was then burnt down with the rest of the building it resided in during the Saints’ Rest fire of 1876. Of course, we’ll never know exactly what “life” this stove led, but from the information we do know, we can figure out the general idea of where it was made, who made it, and what became of it.
“Tales of Michigan” by Constance M. Jerlecki
With the semester coming quickly to a close, so is my research on the Women’s Building, otherwise known as Morrill Hall. I’ve spent all year finding out as much as I can about the beginning of the life of that “good ol’ red building” that sits on the north-east side of Michigan State’s campus. Spending a lot of time at the MSU Archives (a big thanks to those at the Archives who helped me) I focused on the years between 1900 and 1925 (1900 being the year the Women’s Building was constructed). I found out some pretty interesting facts about not only the building, but the women who lived inside the building. These women were pioneers; the first to enter a school full of men and to prove that co-education was the next step in university education.
However, if you want to know more about what I’ve found out at the MSU Archives, you’ll have to stop by the MSU Union on Friday, April 12th at around 9:30am, where I’ll be presenting at the UURAF. The University Undergraduate Research and Arts Forum is held in the spring of every year for undergraduate Michigan State students to show the rest of the school what research they have been conducting all year. Research can be presented either orally, on a poster, or performed (for those students showcasing their scholarship through artistic work, such as dance, music or theater). There are twenty research categories total, ranging from Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (be sure look for my friend Matt Smith’s poster!), to Psychology, to Social Science, which will be the category in which I’ll be presenting. Presenters will be asked questions on their research, and constructive feedback will be given by the judges. Judging happens throughout the day, and is based on certain criteria, such as delivery, elements and visual aids. Last year five hundred and sixty students presented at the forum, and I have no doubt there will be even more students this year.
For my research, my mentors, Dr. Lynne Goldstein and Katy Meyers, and I decided that a poster would be the best approach for my presentation. To be honest, designing the poster was harder than I had anticipated. It’s all designed on the computer, and PowerPoint is used for this. However, PowerPoint must be set to certain dimensions (40” by 32”), so trying to view the whole poster on my tiny laptop screen was, well, inconvenient to say the least (as some of my friends would say, “first world problems”). Anyway, I eventually got all of my information placed on the poster only to realize, with the help of Katy, that it was extremely cluttered and disorganized. So, back to square one, I had to reorder and re-place everything, but eventually I got it to look presentable. The poster is in the process of being printed, and will be ready to go Friday morning.
So come on by to the MSU Union this Friday, to not only see some pretty interesting research on Morrill Hall (if I do say so myself), but also a lot of pretty incredible research from my undergraduate peers at MSU. It’ll be an all day event, so even if you can’t make it at 9:30am for my presentation, there will be plenty of other chances during the day to see other presentations. Come support all of MSU’s undergraduate researchers, and I hope to see you there!
Make sure to visit our interns at the UURAF this Friday, April 12th! At 9:30am in the Gold Room at the MAC Union, Bethany will be presenting her poster on Morrill Hall, and Katie and Dana will be presenting on their classification of the Saints Rest material. Feel free to visit and ask them questions about their research.
For more on the UURAF, visit: http://urca.msu.edu/uuraf/
I’ll be honest, when I first started my research project for my Campus Archaeology internship, I didn’t realize how much I would fall in love with Morrill Hall. Before this semester, I knew barely anything about that old red brick building. To me, it was …
While I’ve been visiting the archives a couple of times a week, looking for information I can use for my research project, I’ve also been down in the CAP lab with Blair, putting together a type collection that can be used for future CAP members, in order to help classify artifacts that have been/will be found. Since I haven’t had much experience thus far in archaeological labs, it’s been interesting to learn what exactly a type collection even is, and to get the opportunity to look at all the collections that Campus Archaeology has obtained since it was first started. During my first visit down to the lab, Katy helped me to understand the difference between the types of ceramics we have (earthenware vs. whiteware vs. stoneware, etc), the difference between the types of nails we have, and ways to classify the types of glass we have. To someone who has had experience in the lab, this may all seem like very trivial stuff, but for someone who had never seen a type collection before, or had gotten to classify artifacts before (namely, me) I had to start somewhere, and learning the basics was definitely necessary. I was given a couple of informational sheets to look over, along with some websites, until the next time I could get back in the lab.
As an undergraduate, this work in the lab has really helped me learn some necessary skills that I will continue to use as a graduate student and into my career life. Granted, I’m not necessarily looking to be a historical archaeologist. As of right now, I’m looking into graduate schools that will help me focus on bioarcheaology, specifically in Central America. However, this doesn’t mean that what I’m doing in the CAP lab won’t help me in the future. What a typology is and how it is formed/used is necessary to know for working with artifacts from any time period, not just historical artifacts. Even though bioarcheaology focuses on human skeletons, all archeological fields can be connected in some way or other, and it could definitely be useful to me to someday use what I know about typologies to help with whatever research I happen to be doing. It’s also been nice to get some experience in the lab, just in general. As an archeologist, I will definitely spend much of my future in labs, and learning the dos and don’ts of a lab is obviously important. Not to mention lab experience looks good on graduate school applications, which is definitely something I’m keeping in mind as I get closer to graduation.
As cliché as it sounds, it’s also been a good experience to work with someone else in the lab. Like I said earlier, I wasn’t extremely knowledgeable about type collections, and it’s been nice to work with a graduate student who knows more. Blair has been very enjoyable to work with, and she offers up good suggestions that I otherwise may not have thought of. It’s also been nice to get to know a graduate anthropology student. As a junior, I’m starting to look into graduate schools and what kind of life I will live after I graduate from MSU, and working with not only Blair, but with Katy and some of the other graduate students too, has given me a peek at that.
For an actual summary about what Blair and I have been doing in the lab, take a glance at her blog entry. It’s been a rewarding experience working down there with her, and I have to say, there is really no better way to learn about this great university’s history than actually getting one’s hands on the actual artifacts that tell us so much.
Hello all! So far my experience as an undergraduate intern for Campus Archaeology has been an incredibly rewarding experience. I know it sounds cliché, but there are so many things I’ve learned about archaeology, research, and even myself that other experiences may not have brought …