Women of the early 1900s

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 me. In my last blog I touched briefly on what my individual project would be during the semester, and since then it has progressed quite far. I still visit the MSU archives a couple of times a week, and have started looking at the scrapbooks (made by females in the early 1900s) that Dr. Goldstein and I made a list of at the beginning of the semester. First of all, I have to say that these scrapbooks are incredible. I often times find myself forgetting why I’m actually there, and losing myself in the old pictures, dance cards, letters, and all of the other treasures glued to those pages. I’ve made a couple of scrapbooks in my short twenty years of life, and it’s crazy to think that one hundred years from now, some random undergraduate student, or anyone for that matter, might look through them and try to piece my life together. Not that I’m anything special or anything, but who knows, it could happen.

Anyway, keeping in mind that I will have to put together a research presentation at the end of the year, I do take into account patterns that I’ve noticed throughout the scrapbooks. These girls spent a lot of time scrapbooking about the balls, dances, and “hops” they went to. Many books have pages and pages of dance cards pasted to them and dinner menus from the events. Besides that, these scrapbooks reflect their daily lives. Report cards, letters from friends and families, invitations to clubs and societies, and of course pictures also fill these pages.

Old Morrill Hall, via MSU Archives and Historical Records

Many of their pictures are taken on the steps of Morrill hall, on the lawn outside of Morrill hall, and in the surrounding areas. This, of course, makes plenty of sense, simply because Morrill hall (back then the Women’s Building) was their only dorm building. I’ve noticed that, at least from the pictures in the scrapbooks, they didn’t venture far from Morrill hall, because everything they needed, from classrooms to beds to food, was all located in that area. This is where I am aiming at taking my research. This building has so many stories inside of it, and I would love nothing more than to do a presentation on its early years, and how it impacted the lives of some of the first female students at the university. I think this topic is also fitting because, sadly, Morrill hall will be torn down at the end of the spring next year, about the same time I’ll be doing this presentation. It seems like a nice tribute to the building that has impacted the university in so many ways.

The thing I’m slightly struggling with is how to relate it back to archaeology. One of the ideas that Katy helped me come up with is to match general items that the women would have used back then in Morrill Hall to some of the artifacts that have been found by Campus Archaeology. However, I’m not sure I can relate all of that back to my Morrill hall idea. Clearly it’s still a work in progress, but I have no doubt it will all come together. Overall though, I’m very much enjoying my time at the archives. Everyone there is extremely helpful, and it is a treat to learn the history of this university while also contributing to Campus Archaeology.

1 thought on “Women of the early 1900s”

  • might be interesting to compare the scrapbooks to current students use of facebook….could you argue that a facebook profile is sort of like a 21st century scrapbook?

    It might also be interesting to look at Morrill in comparison to the dorms where men lived. What is the same? What is different? Did MAC have different rules for men and women on campus? What does that tell us about how men and women were perceived differently in the early 20th century, or what types of skills and expectations MAC had for how men and women would be educated? Do the scrapbooks provide any evidence to suggest that women were acting differently then the University expected them to?

    Sounds like a neat project!!

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