Hunting and Gathering on Campus: New Insights from Old Sources

This past year, I wrote a blog post detailing several stories of hunting and gathering on campus that I had uncovered while researching food practices on MSU’s early campus. I have continued to explore this aspect of campus and recently discovered some new information that sheds a little more light on these activities!

It is well documented that the first students and faculty on campus supplemented their diet with fruit and game animals from the surrounding area, but the motivation behind this was not completely clear. Within Madison Kuhn’s book Michigan State: The First Hundred Years, there is a passage that discusses the student reactions to the board rate increase from $2.50 per week to $3.15 in the early 1880s. The students were outraged that the raise in rate did not correspond with the quality of food that they were being served. A student committee investigated the university accounts and discovered the university steward “paid excessive prices, that he failed to enter all receipts, and that he bough canned goods while vegetables rotted in the field, and that he charged the boarding-hall for the feed of his personal driving-horse” (Kuhn, p.126). All of these irregularities resulted in the resignation of the steward. This hefty price, plus the less-than desirable taste of the dining hall food, could have been a key factor in the student’s motivation to supplement their diet from the surrounding area.

As Susan mentioned in her blog post last week, students would steal food from different areas around campus including bread, cakes, and fruit from the MSU Orchards (Kains, 1945). In addition to swiping food from around the college, students would also forage across several of the neighboring farms. Using spare clothing as impromptu bags, students would raid nearby fields, coming back to campus with apples, musk melons, and occasionally a stray chicken (Kuhn p. 46).

MAC Gardens and Orchard, date unknown. Image Source.

MAC Gardens and Orchard, date unknown. Image Source.

However, this less than legal practice was not the only way that students added variety to their diet. In the 1870s, a competitive “grand match hunt” was commonly held in October. In 1873, the hunt “bagged seventy-nine squirrels, twelve pigeons, nine quail, six partridges, four turkeys, eight ducks” and the winning team was treated to an oyster dinner by the losers (see Mari’s blog post about Oysters!; Kuhne, p.99). This and other hunting stories are made all the more interesting since, according to the rules and regulations established by the College in 1857, students were not supposed to possess or use firearms on campus (Meeting Minutes 1857, p.32). Because of this rule, students used other means, such as building pens to capture wild turkeys or getting faculty assistance, in order to feast on wild game (Kuhn, p.45). Like smoking and alcohol, the use of firearms was either not strongly enforced or was easily kept secret on a sparsely populated campus. Maybe the promise of a few choice cuts of meat was enough to make faculty members look the other way when it came to hunting on campus.

Student with Turkey, date unknown. Image Source

Student with Turkey, date unknown. Image Source


Kains, Maurice G., editor.
1945   Fifty Years out of College: A Composite Memoir of the Class of 1895 Michigan State College of Agriculture and Applied Science
. New York: Greenberg.

Kuhne, Madison  1910   Michigan State: the first hundred years, 1855-1955. Michigan State University Press [1955].

Meeting Minutes, 1857, Offices of Board of Trustees and President, UA 1

Turkey Photo, date unknown:

MAC Gardens and Orchard, date unknown:

In the Beginning: Campus before MSU

How do you picture campus before Michigan State University came into existence?  For me, on hearing that the first students spent a good portion of their time everyday cutting trees, pulling stumps, and draining swamps so that they could then get to the business of agriculture, a romantic image pops into my head of an unaltered wilderness from which an institution of learning would soon rise (thanks to the strong backs of the first students, faculty, and staff).  This is not exactly true.  While the area purchased by the State of Michigan to start a new agricultural college was largely forested wilderness, it was not unoccupied.  This is important to understand for us at the Campus Archaeology Program, as we need to be able to recognize and interpret early finds when they are discovered.

When the land for the Michigan Agricultural College was purchased in 1855, it encompassed a number of ecological zones, including closed forests, patches of open forest, marshes, swamps, river bottoms, and others, which all provided habitats for a variety of plants and animals (Kuhn 1955:12).  Such diversity in wildlife and soils, as well as access to the Red Cedar River and a small creek or stream, made this area ideal for individuals looking to live off the land.  Both Native Americans and frontier settlers saw the potential of this area and aimed to make the most of it.  As early as 3,000 years ago, Native Americans had been using this abundant landscape for hunting, fishing, and other activities, which you can read about here.  Much later in time, as the state of Michigan was being increasingly populated by Euro-American settlers, two families lived on plots of land that would soon become the north half of MSU’s campus.  In the corner of campus that now contains the Psychology Building, Mason-Abbot Hall, and Synyder-Phillips Hall, the Smith family ran a small farm, which included fruit trees and small agricultural fields, as well as a wood frame house that was eventually moved and reused by the College (Kuhn 1955:12).  On the other side of campus, in the current location of Adams Field and the Music building, was a small farm ran by Robert Burcham and his family (Beal 1915:14; Kuhn 1955:12; Lautner 1978:17, 35).  As I am currently exploring the history of this western side of West Circle, I decided to delve a little deeper into the Burcham Farm.

Figure 1: Composite map made to reflect how campus appeared on the first day of classes, 1857. Found in Launter (1978) on page 35. Used with permission of MSU Archives and Historical Collections.

Figure 1: Composite map made to reflect how campus appeared on the first day of classes, 1857. Found in Launter (1978) on page 35. Used with permission of MSU Archives and Historical Collections.

In 1851, four years before the land was purchased in order to form the college, Robert Burcham began to build a small log cabin and clear several small fields in the area of where the Music building and Adams Field now stand (Beal 1915; Kuhn 1955. Lautner 1978).  He also planted and tended a few fruit trees in this same area (Beal 1915:14). Based on a map that used various resources to create a vision of what campus would have looked like in 1857 (Figure 1 above, found in Lautner 1978:35), Burcham’s agricultural fields and orchard were laid out in the area that is now Adams Field, while his log cabin appears to have been built where the Music Building now stands.  Since this map is a composition from various sources and was not scientifically charted, it is unknown if the footprint of the Music building completely covers where the Burcham Cabin sat or if the cabin was located a short distance away.

In 1852, Burcham and his family moved into the cabin and began farming and trading.  While they made their living off the land, the Burchams also interacted with Native Americans that intermittently camped along the south side of the Red Cedar River.  At any one time, hundreds of Native Americans may have camped in this area, hunting, fishing, processing maple sap, and trading skins and meat with the Burchams for various agricultural products and refined goods like flour (Kuhn 1955:12; Lautner 1978:17).

After 1855, when the land was purchased by the State of Michigan, it is unclear exactly what happened to the Burcham Farm.  While Kuhn (1955:37) writes that the fields previously cleared by the Burchams were used from the very beginning of the College for growing crops and instructing students, other records indicate that the Burcham’s continued to live on this small plot of land.  As seen on the above map, their farm appears to have still been operational as of 1857, when the College first opened its doors.  Housed in the MSU Archives and Historical Collections (Madison Kuhn Collection- UA 17.107 box 2410 folder 40) are also a small number of receipts of payment spanning into the mid-1860s (Figures 2 and 3).  These receipts document payments made to Robert Burcham for a number of jobs done on behalf of the College, such as hauling stones for building materials, chopping down trees and turning them into fire wood, and days of digging.  These receipts, along with the lack of construction that took place in this area early on, suggest that the Burcham family lived on campus for at least a decade after the land was purchased.  While it is unknown when they left, the Burcham farm is not identified on a map made by Dr. Beal in 1870, indicating that they no longer lived on this property by that time.

Figure 2: In 1859, Burcham was paid $1.50 for work, what type of work is illegible. Madison Kuhn Collection- UA 17.107 box 2410 folder 40. Used with Permission of MSU archives and Historical Collections.

Figure 2: In 1859, Burcham was paid $1.50 for work, what type of work is illegible. Madison Kuhn Collection- UA 17.107 box 2410 folder 40. Used with Permission of MSU archives and Historical Collections.

Figure 3: In 1864, Burcham was paid $12 dollars for topping 23 trees on campus, burning brush, and turning the chopped sections into fire wood. Madison Kuhn Collection- UA 17.107 box 2410 folder 40. Used with Permission of MSU archives and Historical Collections.

Figure 3: In 1864, Burcham was paid $12 dollars for topping 23 trees on campus, burning brush, and turning the chopped sections into fire wood. Madison Kuhn Collection- UA 17.107 box 2410 folder 40. Used with Permission of MSU archives and Historical Collections.

So, next time you stop by the Music Building, remember the Burchams and how they helped to tame the wilderness that would soon become the campus of Michigan State University.



Beal, W. J.

1915   History of the Michigan Agricultural College and Biographical Sketches of Trustees and Professors.  Michigan Agricultural College, East Lansing.

Kuhn, Madison

1955   Michigan State: The First Hundred Years.  The Michigan State University Press, East Lansing.

Lautner, Harold W.

1978   From an Oak Opening: A Record of the Development of the Campus Park of Michigan State University, 1855-1969.  Volume 1.  Self-published manuscript on file at the MSU Archives and Historical Collections.

MSU Archives and Historical Collections

Burcham, Robert- Receipts for Services, 1853-1864.  UA 17.107, Box 2410, Folder 40.

Capturing Campus Cuisine: The Saga Continues

I am excited to announce that Capturing Campus Cuisine, the food project that Susan Kooiman and myself began this past year will continue! Last year, we studied the earliest period of MSU’s campus from 1855-1870, focusing on the production, processing, and consumption on campus. This research culminated in the recreation of a historic campus meal with the assistance of MSU Culinary Services. You can read more about what we did previously on the project website: This year, we will continue to visit different areas of campus including visits to the MSU farms and meat lab, and conduct further archival research and archaeological analysis in order to expand upon what we have learned.

Personally, I am going to focus on analyzing more of the animal bones that have been recovered during campus excavations. While we can assume that there will be many domesticated species, including cow, pig, sheep, and goat, it is also possible that there are undomesticated species, such as white-tailed deer, elk, or turkey, in the archaeological assemblages.

Cow in front of barns c. 1896. Image Source.

Cow in front of barns c. 1896. Image Source.

We know through archival research that both students and faculty hunted on campus (see Autumn’s previous blog on this topic) and that there was also a deer park on campus from 1898 into the early 1900s. This deer park contained three deer as well as two elk. The university even considered expanding to include a buffalo at one point (Beal 1915 pp. 263; MAC Record Nov 15, 1898)! In 2008, the campus archaeology program uncovered the foundations of the barn in the photo below during excavations near present day Mayo Hall.

Deer Park c. 1907. Image Source

Deer Park c. 1907. Image Source

Elk in the deer park c. 1907. Image Source

Elk in the deer park c. 1907. Image Source

As I continue with the faunal (animal) bone analysis, I will need to be aware of this, and compare the specimens against both domesticated and undomesticated species to verify the animal species identification. Another layer of analysis that I will conduct this year will be on identifying the specific meat cuts that were utilized. Understanding what cuts of meat come from which skeletal elements in an animal will allow us to compare and contrast what is present within the campus archaeological collection against the archival records which list specific meat portions!

Below are a few images of the animal remains that are being analyzed. Stay tuned for updates on the results of the animal bone analysis!

Sample of the faunal remans being analyzed.

Sample of the faunal remans being analyzed.

Autumn sorts bones in the cap lab.

Autumn sorts bones in the cap lab.









Cow Barns May 31, 1896 Image:

Deer Park 1907 Image:

Elk Deer Park Image:

MAC Record: Tuesday, Nov. 15, 1898 Vol 4 No. 10:

Beal, William James. History of the Michigan agricultural college and biographical sketches of trustees and professors. 1915.


MSU Campus Archaeology, The Future, and Day of Archaeology

By Lynne Goldstein

I am also posting this on the Day of Archaeology website.

I was not going to personally post today for Day of Archaeology (#dayofarch) since our field season ended a few weeks ago, and I am getting ready for surgery (hip replacement). All of our student workers are off doing other things, so our lab is pretty quiet right now. Field work is also on hold since construction projects are in their final phases, in an attempt to be completed before school begins. However, when I realized that this was the last Day of Archaeology, I felt compelled to write something since I am also coming to the end of a project.

I created and direct the Michigan State University Campus Archaeology Program (MSU CAP), and as of May 2018, I will be retiring from the University (although not from archaeology). The job of directing and administering MSU CAP will go to Dr. Stacey Camp, who has just arrived in East Lansing so that we can overlap for a year. MSU CAP is in very capable hands, and I am confident that the program will not only survive, but thrive. We will do a blog post welcoming and more completely introducing Stacey later in August.

Historic archaeology in general, and campus archaeology in particular, were never my primary research interests. But career paths are rarely straight, and I have found that one does best taking advantage of opportunities along the way. Given this, I have conducted excavations of several large and small historic cemeteries across the U.S., and I created this campus program, which is primarily (although not exclusively) focused on historic sites.

I thought that a campus-focused program would be good for a number of reasons (beyond being able to sleep in my own bed each night), but found that there were even more reasons than I had anticipated. Here are a few of them:

  1. Doing archaeology on campus raises awareness of archaeology and the fact that sites are everywhere, and that campus histories do not tell the complete story. We see ourselves as educating a large community (students, faculty staff, alumni, the general public) on the importance and value of archaeology.
  2. Students and staff are more likely to get involved and excited when the sites being excavated are something they can directly relate to, and developing an appreciation for and learning more about the history of the campus is good for everyone.
  3. Campus Archaeology has changed attitudes and approaches of the upper administration of the campus, as well as the workers. Physical plant employees have told us that working with CAP has definitely made their jobs more interesting.
  4. Running a field school on campus (which we generally do every other year) allows students who cannot go on an expedition elsewhere the chance to learn archaeological methods and techniques. Some students cannot afford to go elsewhere, others have family commitments that constrain their opportunities.
  5. In addition to training students in archaeological methods like every archaeological field school does, we also train students in archival research and to work with construction crews, staff, administration, etc. This additional training that our undergrad interns and graduate student fellows receive helps them get into graduate school and get better jobs. They have a kind of training that few others receive; they all also get extensive training in public outreach and engagement.
  6. Social media has allowed a very small program to have a very large reach – we regularly engage with archaeologists and the public around the world. Students are trained in conducting such engagement, including writing regular blog posts.
  7. Studying the history of higher education – particularly the land grant schools – through archaeology is fascinating, reflects larger changes in the overall culture, and is an area that has not been widely examined archaeologically. Each graduate fellow focuses their individual project on a different aspect of this history.

I feel privileged to have been able to create and direct this program, and I have to thank Michigan State University for its generous and enthusiastic support. Will I miss doing this? Of course, but it is also time to move on the next phase. I love Day of Archaeology because – ona single day – we can see what kinds of things archaeologists are doing all over the world. We are learning a lot about our past, with some clear possibilities for future directions if we listen.

The Unit A Rock Collection

After four weeks of the field school, the unit in which I am working, Unit A, measures roughly 60 centimeters, or about two feet, in depth. Needless to say, it is becoming rather difficult to climb in and out of the unit. Even though Josh and I removed a significant amount of soil from the unit this week, we did not find too many artifacts. Nonetheless, there has been a couple of interesting developments.

Kaleigh works to clean the floor of Unit A.

Kaleigh works to clean the floor of Unit A.

First, the hole we dug in our attempt to investigate the area formally known as Feature 1 is finally level with our unit floor. Not having a giant hole in the middle of the unit makes it ten times easier for both of us to stand in the unit while shovel skimming. But now that we are a little deeper beneath the Earth’s surface, we are noticing some interesting changes to the Feature 1 area –specifically, the outline of this cultural deposit is changing shape. It is no longer the rectangle we were initially dealing with, rather, it is now becoming more of a semi-circle. The deposit is also migrating westward — meaning that the original location of the former feature no longer contains traces of the burned coal and other cultural matter. The northeastern corner of Unit D is now exhibiting a collection of this mysterious black matter, suggesting that the deposit continues to extend beyond our western wall. However, Unit D is not as deep as our unit, so we cannot conclusively say that the deposit in Unit A runs into Unit D since we cannot compare the patterns at an equal level at this time.

Large rocks begin to appear in the western half of Unit A.

Large rocks begin to appear in the western half of Unit A.

The most interesting development of the week occurred immediately after Josh and I eliminated the awkward hole in our unit floor. While shovel skimming the very next level, Level 6, we kept hitting one rock after another in the eastern half of the unit. It got to the point where we could no longer use a shovel to remove the standard 10 centimeters of soil from the floor, but had to use the trowel instead. After a few hours of scraping around rock after rock, we had finally leveled out the unit floor as best as we could. In total, we counted 21 sizeable rocks on the surface and another 15 or so just beginning to peak out of the ground. Because of the large number of rocks present, we were told to remove another 10 centimeters from this level, making Level 6 a 20-centimeter-deep level. The field school did not meet on Friday, June 23, so by the end of the day Thursday, we were only about 1/4 of the way done removing the extra 10 cm of soil. However, I was able to remove about 10 rocks from the unit. We still have a long way to go, though, since we are using our trowels instead of shovels to remove the soil.

While excavating around the rocks, Josh and I began to speculate about what the rocks could represent. In his previous blog post, Josh stated he believes the rocks were used to control water flow around the building. Our professor suggested the rocks could have been knocked loose from the foundation when the building was moved in the early 1920s. However, since most of the rocks I was able to remove were either round or irregular-shaped pieces of granite, and the fact we are excavating in an area that is believed to be outside the building, I think it is possible the rocks may have been used for some decorative purpose, such as lining a flower bed or walkway. However, if the rocks were once arranged in a systematic manner, I am not sure how the rocks came to be placed in this jumbled mess. Perhaps they were haphazardly discarded here after the 1903 fire or once the building was relocated.

In any case, we may never know what our collection of rocks was used for. But then again, further excavation during our final week may be able to provide us with a clue as to the purpose of these rocks.


Feature 1

After two weeks into the field school, my “squad mate,” Josh Eads, and I finished the second level of our unit. After the floor was leveled, and all the loose dirt was cleared away, we noticed something peculiar about this level: there is a large black rectangle that starts at the northern wall of our unit and extends 108 centimeters southward into the middle of the unit. This unusual area has been designated as Feature 1, or FEA 1. Unlike an artifact, which is considered to be portable, a feature is a non-portable object or area – such a as a wall, a pit, or our interesting black rectangle – that represents a past human activity.

Unit A Base of Level 2 - feature is the dark rectangle in the top part of unit.

Unit A Base of Level 2 – feature is the dark rectangle in the top part of unit.

On Friday (6/9/17), Josh and I began excavating the eastern half of the feature and finished clearing it out on Monday (6/12/17). Our goal here was to find the boundaries of the feature — to determine how deep it was and how far east it stretched. We left the western half of the feature undisturbed so we could examine any stratigraphy (changes in soil type, color, or texture) that may be present, and perhaps use a different technique to further analyze the feature. Excavating this half of the feature proved to be exceedingly time-consuming. It goes without saying that since we wanted to determine the exact shape of the feature, we had to be extremely careful while looking for the diagnostic change in soil color that told us where the feature ended. Finding the eastern boundary of the feature was rather simple, but determining its depth was much more difficult. After nearly four hours of fighting tree roots, clumps of an unknown burnt substance, and large chunks of coal, I finally started to reach the bottom of the northern half of the rectangle. Rather than a simple flat floor, the floor of this area gradually slopes inward from the eastern wall of the feature. After some interesting attempts at finding the best place to sit while excavating this awkward slope, I was finally able to reach the lowest point of this fascinating feature, which turned out to be at a depth of 34 centimeters. Josh also had to fight tree roots and coal while excavating the southern half of the feature. He was able to determine that the floor in this area was relatively flat and had a depth of about 30 centimeters.

Base of FEA 1A - the eastern half of feature 1.

Base of FEA 1A – the eastern half of feature 1.

Even though excavating the entire eastern half of this feature took up the bulk of our day, Josh and I also carefully screened the soil we removed from the pit. We found quite a few rusty nails, some of which were bent at a near right angle, some large pieces of glass, a couple of paper clips, and a sizeable amount of an unknown burnt substance — possibly clay or plaster. But the most substantial amount of material found was burnt coal. It was not burned to the point where it had become charcoal; it was more like lightweight, brittle chunks of carbon. While shovel skimming both the first and second layers of our unit, we found a large amount of coal, both burnt and not burnt. However, FEA 1 is primarily composed of the substance — it is essentially a deposit of used coal. Needless to say, our hands had a nice black hue to them by the end of the day.

The significant amount of used coal in the feature led Josh and I to hypothesize about what this feature was. We believe it may have been the location of a furnace or chimney. Another classmate, Cooper Duda, suggested that the feature could even represent the location of an old fireplace. All of these theories could also explain why we recovered so many nails — old pieces of wood containing the nails might have possibly been disposed of by being placed in an incinerator located in this area. However, we need to investigate the feature a little further before we can draw any definitive conclusions about it.

Although excavating this feature is taking such a long time, I am enjoying the task since it is giving us the chance to explore something a little more specific about Station Terrace.

MSU CAP 2015 Field School – Accepting Applications

This summer an on-campus field school will be offered. This will be the third time a MSU Campus Archaeology field school will be conducted on MSU grounds. The course, listed as ANP 464 Field Methods in Archaeology, will run from June 1st to July 2nd. The specific excavation locations will be announced later, but we will be excavating in several places in the oldest part of campus.  The course will teach student’s proper excavation techniques, and an array of archaeological methods.

As discussed in Katy’s prior blog post  the first on-campus excavation was conducted in 2005. As I’ve previously mentioned here I was lucky enough to participate in the Saints’ Rest excavation course while I was an undergrad here. It’s hard to believe that was nearly ten years ago, and although I’ve participated in other field schools and excavations since, the Saints’ Rest field methods course remains a unique experience that I’m glad I had as my first excavation. There are so many benefits to excavating on campus:

  • It’s a familiar area! This makes it a very comfortable environment to try something new, and you get to go home and sleep in your own bed. Never underestimate the glory of taking a hot shower after a long day in the field.
  • It’s easy to get to. One field school I participated in required a thirty-minute drive, transfer to a larger off road capable truck, rafting across a river, and hiking another mile and a half. It was fun, but there’s something to be said about being able to walk/bike/bus to the field location.
  • There’s a lack of dangerous animals. At the above-mentioned field school there were rattlesnakes and bears. We even had a bear pee in the equipment box, which was a unique life experience but one I don’t feel the need to repeat. With an on-campus field school the most dangerous wildlife to keep a lookout for are large groups of incoming freshmen on campus tours.
  • You get to work with your classmates in a hands-on work environment. Although you may have had several classes with many of the other members in the field school, you don’t truly know someone until you’ve worked side by side in a 1mx1m excavation unit. It’s been nearly ten years, and I’m still in contact with many of the people who I participated in Saint’s Rest with.

But perhaps one of the biggest benefits is how unique of an experience excavating on campus is. You get to excavate the material culture created by past MSU students, faculty and staff, while at the same time creating your own imprint on the archaeological record by being a part of the current MSU campus. So if you’re looking for something to do this summer that allows you to gain practical experience, while earning anthropology credits, please consider applying to the 2015 MSU Campus Archaeology field school.

Applications are due by March 5th, 2015.

Download an application: Field School Application 2015

Download the flyer – Archaeological Field School2015-s


The College Becomes A University: July in Campus History

For most of us, it seems that not much happens at MSU in July.  Most of the students are still gone, and while the occasional roving herd of incoming freshmen pass through for orientation, the campus still seems quiet.  Historically, not much has happened this month.  One thing stands out, however.

On July 1st of 1955, the college changed it’s name from “Michigan State College of Agriculture and Applied Science” to “Michigan State University of Agriculture and Applied Science.”  This was the fruit of several years’ of writing letters and dealing with the University of Michigan’s complaints.  They were apparently concerned that the names were too similar!  MSC had begun seeking university status in the early 1950s, arguing that their diverse variety of programs indicated that the college had grown into a university.  In Michigan law, “University” isn’t specifically defined, but there is a list of what they consider to be Michigan universities.  It is assumed that to be considered a university an institution must offer a wide variety of programs and grant four year degrees, but this does not seem to be specifically laid out anywhere.

John Hannah observes signing the Michigan State University Bill, 1955. Courtesy On the Banks of the Red Cedar

John Hannah observes signing the Michigan State University Bill, 1955. Courtesy On the Banks of the Red Cedar

Still, MSC had to propose the Michigan State University Bill in the hopes of making the name change legal.  A week before the state House of Representatives voted on the bill, U of M submitted a 26 page brief against the proposal.  It didn’t work, and in April, the Senate voted 23-2 in favor of the name change.  The change was effective on July 1st, 1955.

Still quite a mouthful, the name was shortened to the current “Michigan State University” in 1964.

Also in July at MSU:  My 20th Birthday! (page 7)





Day of DH: Perspectives from the Campus Archaeology Team

Screen Shot 2014-04-08 at 8.21.03 AMAs part of Day of Digital Humanities (DH), we are going to be sharing perspectives of what doing digital means for various members of the Campus Archaeology team. Digital Humanities covers a large body of work, but primarily refers to the application of digital tools and technology to humanities problems and questions. This page will be updated throughout April 8, 2014 with new posts and updates about our digital tools during the day.

You can visit our official Day of DH page here, and learn more about Day of DH here.

12:30 pm: Katy’s Perspective

My work with Campus Archaeology has been very digitally focused- that is until this year. I’ve done work to help create a more robust mapping system for Campus Archaeology using geographic information systems. As the Campus Archaeologist (2011-2013) I usedFlickrTwitterFacebook and WordPress to engage with the public and share our findings. I developed an Omeka site for Campus Archaeology to create online museum exhibits. But I’ve been a little more analog this year. My current project is to accession all the Campus Archaeology artifacts, which entails giving unique numbers to artifacts in order to keep track of them and organize them by location found.

My dropbox for applying for site numbers, collaboratively done by using the cloud

My dropbox for applying for site numbers, collaboratively done by using the cloud

Despite the fact that the bulk of my project is analog, we’ve made the process easier by sharing documents about sites in Dropbox and our database of artifacts is all digital. I’m also helping others to make their work a little more digital. I’ve been working with intern Josh to improve the GIS by adding more attributes and adding all the survey points. I’ve also been helping with Dig the Past, this past weekend I volunteered at the event and tweeted throughout the it. By keeping track of these tweets, I was able to create a Storify version of the day.

So even though I’d say I’m not doing digital projects, digital tools are still an essential part of my workflow and help to organize my work with Campus Archaeology. I still find it fascinating of how helpful new technology is for understanding the past and engaging with the public.

11:30 am: Campus Archaeologist Kate’s Perspective

Kate screening while shovel testing under sidewalks for Campus Archaeology

Kate screening while shovel testing under sidewalks for Campus Archaeology

Field blogging has become commonplace for archaeologists; creating field journals that describe the day-to-day happenings of the field season. Blogs allow the archaeologist to connect to a larger audience and interact with new communities of followers. The general public can be awe inspired to learn about archaeology while fellow colleagues can offer insight. Blogs create a transparency for excavations which encourages public trust. Additionally, this transparency provides a grounding for the general public to understand what real archaeology is, rather than what is portrayed on the silver screen. Field school blogging has become an ever more popular tool used to insure learning.

Blogging has the power to strengthen a student’s field experience by encouraging the student to be fully engaged in every aspect of the field season, by allowing the student to share his/her experience with a wider, captivated audience, and by creating a system the ensures the student is understanding the archaeology. While classroom blogging fosters interactions between students, blogging in the field fosters interactions between the student and the excavation. By encouraging the student to think critically about what the artifacts and features are saying about the site, blogging lets the student interact intellectually with the archaeology. While the typical non- digital field journal is used to remember numbers, depths, coordinates, etc…the field blog is a less formal format that gives the student an opportunity to be creative and think outside of the box…or in this case the unit!

11:05 am: Digital is all around us!

Campus Archaeology Tweet

10:30 am: Erica’s Perspective

Dig the Past

Dig the Past

When I first heard about April 8, Day of DH, my first thought was, “What is DH?” Similar to anyone with access to a computer, email is second nature to me and I have fun playing on my Facebook page, but this is where my technology experience ends. When I learned about Day of DH, I wondered, “who are a digital humanists and what do they do?” This is precisely why I would like to participate in Day of DH: to explore, to experience, and to understand what DH is all about.

Recently, I became active in a public outreach program, Dig the Past, which introduces people of all ages to what archaeologists do through hands-on activities. Participation in Dig the Past enabled me to join MSU’s Campus Archaeology Program, the parent program of DTP. By being an active member in CAP, I am learning how various forms of social media are used to educate the public about the important work that archaeologists do. I am excited to participate in Day of DH and write about my new experiences using social media to communicate about Campus Archaeology activities.

9:30 am: Adrianne’s Perspective

Dig the Past

Dig the Past

My work for the Campus Archaeology Program has largely involved creating and overseeing the “Dig the Past” monthly series of hands-on educational workshops that CAP hosts at the MSU Museum. “Dig the Past” is an education and engagement project sponsored by the Campus Archaeology Program in which kids learn what archaeologists do by doing it. Workshop participants dig, sift, and sort their way towards learning about how archaeology builds knowledge about the human past. The program involves hands-on activities targeted towards children as well as adults which promote learning and disseminate information about the history and archaeology of MSU and its campus. Because the program is, very intentionally, about physically interacting with cultural material and hands-on learning activities, my digital heritage activities for the project have not been particularly in-depth. I have used social media platforms like Twitter (@archaeoAD) and Facebook to promote the program and to connect with other content experts and public programmers interested in informal learning. I’ve written a few blog posts describing and reflecting upon aspects of my experience working with the program, which can be read on the CAPBlog. I have also created a Flickr account to archive photos taken at Dig the Past sessions, which can be viewed here: The blog posts and photo archive are valuable records of the activities, especially as they have evolved since Dig the Past started, and will complement the wealth of other content developed for the program since its inception.

8:30 am: Amy and Nicole’s Perspective

For our Campus Archaeology projects, we rely on the MSU Archives to supplement the artifacts we find during excavations on campus. Fortunately the Archives have digitized some of their collections, which can be found on their searchable website “On the Banks of the Red Cedar”.  This site contains oral histories, documents, newspapers, and photographs detailing early campus life. The Archives also has a public flickr account which includes many photographs from MSU’s early history. An upcoming exhibit by Campus Archaeology on the origins of research laboratories on campus will be featured in Chittenden Hall, which will soon be the new home of the MSU Graduate School.

In order to benefit future researchers interested in the historic campus, we catalogue all notes regarding historical documents, photographs, and artifacts in a digital reference database. Campus Archaeology uses the Zotero software to share and disseminate this information. Our integrated project demonstrates the usefulness and importance of combining archaeological excavations and archival research to further our understanding of MSU’s rich academic and social history.

7:15 am: Good Morning and Happy Day of DH!

Campus Archaeology Day of DH tweet

6:00 am: Doing Digital Campus Archaeology: Andrew’s Perspective

One of my functions within Campus Archaeology is to monitor and disseminate scholarly archaeological content via our social media outlets.  While tangentially related to DH, it does bring the field or archaeology, from various perspectives on various subjects around the world, to our readers who might not otherwise have found the same content. As professional archaeologists, it is our connection to the scholarly community which allows us to bring interesting and informative content to readers who may not be professionals, in a way that is easily understood and accessible.