Author: Kate Frederick

CAP Cafe Intro: Crash Course in Paleoindians

CAP Cafe Intro: Crash Course in Paleoindians

Our second CAP Cafe for the semester is right around the corner, February 25th. For those of you who haven’t been following, our new CAP Cafe series is designed to engage the general public with archaeologists and their research through informal events. At our previous […]

Why all the fuss about the Onondaga Pottery Co.?

Why all the fuss about the Onondaga Pottery Co.?

As every archaeologist knows for every hour you spend in the field, you can expect to spend 4 hours in the lab. This has proven true for our recent field school excavations. A fruitful 5 week field school this past summer has left us with […]

CAP Represents at the Midwest Archaeological Conference 2015

CAP Represents at the Midwest Archaeological Conference 2015

This past weekend CAP attended the Midwest Archaeological Conference in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Several grad students and faculty presented their research and represented the outstanding work happening at MSU.

CAP Poster Presentation:

Lisa Bright, Katy Meyers-Emery, and Amy Michaels- More Than Just Nightsoil: Preliminary Findings from Michigan State University’s First Privy – download here

In addition to a poster presentation, Campus Archaeology was excited to be asked to be a part of the Campus Archaeologies in the Midwest Session. Organized by William Green and Shannon Fie from Beloit College, this session explored the variety of archaeology occurring on college campuses throughout the Midwest. Dr. Goldstein presented on CAP, Michigan State University’s Campus Archaeology Program: What We’ve Done and What We’ve Learned. Her presentation explained the successful strategies of CAP and how CAP has culminated into its current position within the university. Dr. Goldstein stressed the importance of creating lasting results within he university, such as the University’s Master Plan.

Lisa Bright, Katy Meyers-Emery, and Kate Frederick presented The Only Things Constant is Change: Maintaining Continuity in the MSU Campus Archaeology Program. One of the major challenges of CAP is the regular turnover in not only the University’s administration, but also the turnover in the position of Campus Archaeologist and CAP fellows. Our presentation explained the mechanisms we have in place to create continuity, i.e. GIS (see Katy’s post), and how we prevent having to reinvent the wheel every year.

Other papers in the session were as follows….

William Green (Beloit College)Archaeology on/off the Campus

Robert Sasso (University of Wisconsin-Parkside)- In the Field Away and at Home: Archaeological Investigations on Two College Campuses in Southeastern Wisconsin

Shannon Fie (Beloit College)- Geophysics at Beloit College: A Tool for Sustaining Campus Archaeology

Mark Schurr (University of Notre Dame)- Exploring the Foundations of University of Notre Dame 2015: The Return to Old College

Darlene Brooks-Hedstrom and Caitlin Lobl (Wittenberg University) Campus Archaeology as a Catalyst for Partnership between Alumni, Students, and the Administration at Wittenberg University

John Doershuk, William Whittaker, and Angela Collins (University of Iowa)- Hubbard Park and Voxman School of Music: Campus Archaeology at the University of Iowa

Russel Skowronek (University of Texas Pan American)- Discussant, MSU Alum, and Co-Author of Beneath the Ivory Tower: The Archaeology of Academia

There were some interesting general topics to take away from the presentations. First of all, archaeology conducted on college campuses is very high profile, and because of this, should be used to its full advantage. For our CAP, hundreds of people pass by our excavations each day, so taking the time to explain why we’re conducting archaeology, and how it effects the larger campus community is integral for sustaining our program. Campus archaeology should involve and invite the entire campus community. Engage not only the current students who happen to stumble past the excavation, but also seek out alumni who potentially have insight about the area, or deep pockets to fund further excavations. Because archaeology can be so hands-on, it’s easy to intrigue a wide range of people, from life-long-learners to toddlers, archaeology can be family friendly and engaging. Campus archaeology has the ability connect students to broader research goals. The presentation by Wittenberg University, explained how one student’s involvement with her campus archaeology program led to further success in studies abroad. Russel Skowronek, the discussant for the session stressed that, while it’s easy for archaeologists to see the advantages of campus archaeology, we need to find ways to ensure that the university understands those advantages.

Introducing CAP Cafe

Introducing CAP Cafe

This year CAP will be introducing a new public outreach series called CAP Cafe. This will be a monthly series geared towards the general public, and it will explore all things archaeology. While Campus Archaeology regularly presents for public outreach events, such as MSU Science […]

Lessons Learned as Campus Archaeologist

Lessons Learned as Campus Archaeologist

Looking back at my tenure as Campus Archaeologist it’s clear that I’ve learned invaluable lessons in the past two years. Not only have I gained valuable skills in social media and public outreach, but I’ve been able to hone my archaeological skills. So here is […]

Expecting the unexpected for summer construction projects

Expecting the unexpected for summer construction projects

As students begin to file out of campus, the orange cones start lining up as a sign of the upcoming summer construction projects. This will be my second summer as Campus Archaeologist and I feel much more prepared this year to expect the unexpected. We’ve been researching in the archives for the past couple of months to make sure we are prepared for every historic feature that may be potentially disturbed throughout the summer. While last year I was caught off-guard with our early discovery of the first Vet Lab, this summer I have a full crew on deck and historic maps in my pocket, so we’re ready to tackle the summer.

The main summer construction project that will occupy CAP is the Phase 4 (final phase) of the North Campus Infrastructure Improvements, or the West Circle steam tunnel renovations. This project will occur in the area between the MSU Museum, Olds Hall and the Library, a very old part of campus. There are three historic buildings that will most likely be affected: the first Williams Hall, the second Wells Hall, and the mechanical engineering shops. CAP is working closely with Granger Construction to insure that we have time to properly survey these areas, and if necessary excavate.

If you’ve been following our blog you know that the second Wells Hall, built in 1916, was torn down in the 1956 to accommodate the new library. Part of the footprint of the second Wells Hall is under the Library’s east parking lot. This parking lost is slated to be torn up and resurfaced, so CAP can sneak in during this process and shovel test. When we shovel test for Wells Hall we want to see if any of the foundation is buried, or if it was completely removed when is was razed. Also, we’re hoping to find artifacts that tell us about the early days of dorm life at MSU.

A new area that we haven’t surveyed too much is the area of the mechanical engineering shops. These shops would have been located to the east of Olds Hall and used for the mechanical engineering program. Associated with the mechanical shops was the power plant, built in 1884, to provide steam forced heat for the university. Previous research on the history of MSU’s power plants indicated that at its inceptions, MSU students were required to feed the coal burning power plant. This adds an interesting element to the potential archaeology of the area since student activity and use of the area was mandatory in order to keep the university heated.

Finally, the West Circle steam tunnel renovations may disturb the foundation of the original Williams Hall. Williams Hall was built in 1869 and burned in 1919. This building housed 80 students and the basement was the cafeteria that fed the university for decades. CAP found a cornerstone of Williams Hall back in 2009, so we know the foundation still exists.

We’ll keep you updated as the construction gets underway.

CAP Detective Work

CAP Detective Work

For the past couple of weeks Lisa Bright and I have been scouring the MSU Archives trying to a) decide on a location for the 2015 Summer Field School, and b) shed light on the mystery assemblage found behind Hannah Admin Building. See Makers Marks […]

Planning for Summer Construction

Planning for Summer Construction

This coming Thursday CAP has a meeting with MSU Infrastructure Planning and Facilities (IPF) and Granger construction to discuss the upcoming summer construction projects. Most importantly, Phase 4 (final phase) of the North Campus Infrastructure Improvement, a.k.a the steam tunnel project. This project began in […]

Holiday Celebrations at M.A.C

Holiday Celebrations at M.A.C

As the students scatter home for the holiday break and campus empties I find myself curious about how the early MSU students celebrated the holidays.

Linton Hall, ca. 1900. Courtesy MSU Archives
Linton Hall, ca. 1900. Courtesy MSU Archives

Because the university focused on agriculture, the summer semester was required and there was a longer break from mid-November to the end of February. Even though  there was a long winter break, many students could be found on campus during the holidays. In a 1897 edition of The M.A.C. Record the campus is described as having a “nice Christmas snow, but not enough for a sleighing.” Later editions of The M.A.C. Record report on how the faculty celebrated the holidays; “Mr. Bland Edwards spent the holidays with his parents, at the college….Miss Marshall, stenographer of the farm department, spent Christmas at her home.” The holiday break was also a popular time for alumni to visit the campus; I.W. Bush, of ’04 [class of 1904] was a college visitor one day the past week. Mr. Bush is engaged in accident insurance business” and “on Christmas day, Prof. Kedzie called on Mr. Boyer, former student and instructor in chemistry the past year, in the government laboratory, in the Stock Yard district…on the 24th he met T.L. Hankinson, ’98 [class of 1898] in one of the downtown stores. Mr. Hankinson is now located in Charleston Ill., where he is teaching Biology in the high school.”

Christmas Tree in front of the Union, date unknown. Courtesy MSU Archives
Christmas Tree in front of the Union, date unknown. Courtesy MSU Archives

Although I couldn’t find any record, there are several historic pictures of buildings decorated with lights for the holidays. In addition to decorating buildings, historical records reveal that Christmas trees were decorated across campus; “the day school, as well as the M.A.C. Sunday school…both displayed fine Christmas trees” and “Howard Terrace must have at least six chimneys since Santa Clause visited six homes in the building and bedecked six beautiful and well filled Christmas trees at the same hour on Christmas Eve.”

Morrill Hall, ca. 1890. Courtesy MSU Archives
Morrill Hall, ca. 1890. Courtesy MSU Archives

Historical pictures show that more than just faculty and students occupied campus during the holidays, children were also a prevalent feature. Christmas events tailored to the children of the faculty and staff are evident in the historical records; “Santa Clause was doing double duty in delighting the youngest children with continual surprises and distributing welcome presents.” and “the M.A.C. Sunday School held Christmas exercises in the schoolhouse…and at their close, the lights were blown out…since Santa would arrive soon.”

Winter is Coming: The Cold Days of CAP

Winter is Coming: The Cold Days of CAP

It’s official, winter is coming. Scratch that, it’s here. I woke up this morning to a snow dusted car and icy roads (bonus points for avoiding the fishtailing 4×4). In the best years I’m an extreme, fair weather fan of winter. By the end of […]