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: earlyfood.campusarch.msu.edu. 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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sources:

Cow Barns May 31, 1896 Image: http://onthebanks.msu.edu/Object/1-4-3D3/a-picture-of-a-cow-in-front-of-barns-1896/

Deer Park 1907 Image: http://onthebanks.msu.edu/Object/1-4-96D/deer-park-1907/

Elk Deer Park Image: http://onthebanks.msu.edu/Object/1-4-970/elk-in-the-deer-park-ca-1907/

MAC Record: Tuesday, Nov. 15, 1898 Vol 4 No. 10: http://onthebanks.msu.edu/Object/1-4-4EC/the-mac-record-vol04-no10-november-15-1898/

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

http://campusarch.msu.edu/Exhibits/FacultyRowExhibit/FacultyRowExhibit.html

 

2 thoughts on “Capturing Campus Cuisine: The Saga Continues

  1. Just wondering if there was a slaughter house on campus or did they rely on the local community to supply the meat.

  2. Hi Lanny, they did everything on campus. I don’t know if there was a specific slaughter house building. There are some MSU board meeting minutes from 1900 that discuss erecting and equipping a slaughter house, and we’ve seen pictures of students learning how to butcher in the archives. Notes from the courses that taught meat cuts mention the slaughter of the animals, but don’t discuss the specific place on campus where that took place.

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