Campus Archaeology Summer Work Update #1

Spring classes have ended, thousands of people have graduated, and a relative calm has spread over the campus. While many people kick back and relax over their summer vacation, this is the busy season for us here at CAP. During the summer we’re busy excavating, researching, and conducting lab work. It may seem like much of our work is tied to campus construction (which does take up a chunk of our summers), but there’s so much more that we do. The construction job monitoring, shovel test pits, pedestrian surveys, and research fuels many of our projects all year long. It’s also the time when we put much of the research our CAP graduate fellows have been working on to the test.

The past three weeks we have been excavating and surveying the Abbot Entrance area ahead of the landscaping rejuvenation project that began on the 25th. I talked about a bit of the history of the Abbot Road entrance in my post about the campus streetcar. We knew that we were going to be working in the area of several historic buildings, namely Faculty Row House #6, Station Terrace, the Y.M.C.A. (formerly the campus hospital), and the U.S. Weather Bureau. We still have more work to do in the area in the coming weeks, but we have uncovered some exciting things since work began!

Campbell/Landon Sidewalk Realignment

Our first area of priority was the sidewalk realignment at the southwest corner of Abbot Road and West Circle Drive. Although we didn’t encounter anything related to the structure of Faculty Row House #6, or the Old Trolley waiting room, we did locate an old sidewalk. Now I know what you’re thinking, a sidewalk, big deal! But this is still a part of the historic campus landscape. Artifacts near the sidewalk, including a carbon battery rod, pipe stem, butchered animal bone, and ceramics indicate an early 1900s date. Part of the sidewalk was removed and is being sent to the Civil Engineering department for testing. This will help them to understand changes in cement/concrete technology over time.

CAP crew works excavating the sidewalk feature

CAP crew works excavating the sidewalk feature

The early 1900s sidewalk, partially uncovered.

The early 1900s sidewalk, partially uncovered.

Abbot Road Median

Stone wall from Station Terrace basementNext we moved to the Abbot entrance median. Landscape services planned to remove diseased non-native trees, and return the area to a more historically accurate planting scheme. Following what has become a yearly tradition, we found a building, Station Terrace to be exact! Our final shovel test pit for the median located the top of a stone and mortar wall. We believe this to be a basement interior-dividing wall. On the east side of the wall were two large decommissioned pipes, as well as two layers of charcoal and debris. The east unit’s stratigraphy was not disturbed at all, so these pipes appear to be original to the building, or at least installed before the foundation was filled in after the building was moved in 1925. To the west of the wall was a layer of larger boulders covering a poured concrete floor. I believe that the boulders were added as fill. Although we only opened a small area we found many wonderful artifacts, including a complete waterman’s ink bottle, a complete Sanford Library Paste jar (used to mount photographs), and a pair of shoes!

Sanford Library Paste jar, Pat. 1915 from East Station Terrace Unit

Sanford Library Paste jar, Pat. 1915 from East Station Terrace Unit

Additional investigation into this area, at some time in the future, will be necessary to determine how much of the building currently exists subsurface. Although Station Terrace appears on several maps, some of the older ones are not the most spatially accurate, and the surrounding landscape is drastically changed today. However, one 1926 map has the beginning of the north and south bound lanes of Abbot, leading me to believe that the eastern third of the building lies under the media, with the rest is under the road and west Abbot sidewalk area.

The Summer 2016 Field Screw after completing Station Terrace STP

The Summer 2016 Field Screw after completing Station Terrace STP

Next week we will be continuing exploration of the Abbot road entrance, focusing on the northwest corner where the U.S. Weather Bureau stood from 1910-1948. Stay tuned for updates, and follow us on Twitter and Instragram (@capmsu) for updates from the field!

CAP at Munsell!

This past Monday CAP had the opportunity to tour the Munsell facility. A few months ago we realized that Munsell headquarters were a mere hour drive from campus. Katy reached out to their organization, and shortly after our tour was on the books! To say that the CAP fellows and Dr. Goldstein were excited is an understatement. Munsell holds a special place in an archaeologists’ heart. Every field school student learns how to use the Munsell soil color book, and undoubtedly Munsell is present in most archaeology labs, departments and firms around the country.

Professor Albert Munsell

Professor Albert Munsell

Munsell color systems, now a division of Xrite, are used by a wide array of industries. Although archaeologists tend to stick to the soil color and bead book, Munsell produces a variety of products and color standards. Our tour was headed by Art Schmehling, the Munsell business manager. We began with a short history of the Munsell color system.

Professor Albert H. Munsell developed his color system to bring order and standardization of colors to the artistic and scientific communities. As the story goes, Professor Munsell was describing an apple to an artist friend in Australia. The friend asked what specific color of red Munsell meant regarding the apple. As anyone that has tried to describe a paint color, or had debates regarding what shade of blue a shirt may be, it’s obvious that without a standard reference people describe colors very differently.

Munsell was determined to standardize the study and description of color by dividing colors into its’ three-dimensional attributes of hue, value and chroma. Munsell’s ground-breaking addition was the incorporation of the chroma scale. Chroma can be thought of as color purity. The addition of this to hue and value allowed colors to be systematically illustrated in three-dimensional space. Munsell published his first color order system book (A Color Notation) in 1905, and first published the Munsell Atlas of Color in 1915. This 1915 publication is the predecessor to today’s Munsell Books of Color.

Munsell Color System: Image Source

Munsell Color System: Image Source

We were able to see the latest version of the Munsell soil book, and the oohs and ahhhs were universal. The Munsell soil books are built to last, so many archaeologists work with older versions (Dr. Goldstein informed Art that she still has the one she purchased in 1969). When a new version of the soil book is produced, a staff member brings it home and runs it through their dishwasher to test the durability of the pages! The new book cover was originally designed to be brown, but after some testing it was discovered that it was too easily lost in the dirt/forest. As any archaeologists can attest it’s easy to lose something brown (like your trowel!) in a back dirt pile.

Munsell Soil Color Book

Munsell Soil Color Book

Before beginning the walking tour, we were also able to see several of the other products Munsell produces, including the large matte and gloss color books, Color Vision Tests, and X-Rite ColorChecker®. The X-Rite ColorChecker® is used by photographers to create a reference to ensure predictable colors standards under every lighting condition. It’s thought to be the most photographed object in the world! They make the ColorChecker® in every size imaginable, from 20 millimeters in diameter (for botanists), to hundreds of yards (for satellite images)! The Color Vision Tests are used by multiple industries to test for color blindness and vision anomalies.

XRite Color Checker

XRite Color Checker

Munsell also works with industries and corporations to create color standards for their products (like creating the specific shade of yellow for Kodak film boxes, or the blue used on Black & Decker tools). They’ve created color-matching pages for everything from cheese to french fries. Munsell has even been in space! They worked closely with Nasa to create a color check system that astronauts use to detect rocket fuel on their spacesuits after space walks.

Munsell in Space

Munsell in Space

We were able to view the color mixing room, and see some purple being printed. The process of creating the colors is an exact science, and many standards are taken to ensure continuity of each product. Each of the color systems, and the history of their changes, are kept in the records area. We of course took pictures with the 10 Y/R row.

Color being printed

Color being printed

10 Y/R Row!

10 Y/R Row!

CAP had an excellent time at Munsell, and we extend our gratitude to the individuals at Xrite for taking the time to meet with us. We learned many fascinating things, and look forward to continue working with Munsell in the future.

Sources:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Munsell_color_system

http://munsell.com

 

 

A Farewell to Trowels

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Katie Scharra (right) and I working the CAP crew in 2013

I’ve been a member of Campus Archaeology Program since I started working on my Ph.D. in 2010. Next month, I graduate. The experience and knowledge I’ve gained as a member of CAP has been invaluable, and it has shaped my professional trajectory in many ways. In May, I will begin a full time position at the George Eastman Museum as the Manager of Online Engagement, and my experience blogging, tweeting and conducting outreach with CAP has prepared me well to do this job. So, as I ride off into a Spartan sunset, I decided it would be fitting, like Amy, to share the some of my favorite projects I’ve worked on. I’ve had an amazing career with CAP, first as a graduate fellow then as Campus Archaeologist, finally as Assistant Director of the field school.

Creating a Better GIS for CAP: One of the big projects I worked on throughout my time in CAP, has been helping to create the Geographic Information System (GIS) for our archaeological projects. GIS is a computer based system that allows us to keep track of spatial data, including the locations of current MSU buildings and features, historic buildings, and every single hole we’ve ever put into the ground for shovel testing and excavation. In fact, the first CAP project I was ever assigned was based around GIS. The goal of that project was to examine current research, and create a spatial model that would help us locate prehistoric sites on campus. As the Campus Archaeologist, I developed a GIS layer that could be used by the university’s Infrastructure, Facilities and Planning department to improve our workflow with them on construction projects. As a CAP fellow, I continued to aid in creating and maintaining different layers and files in the GIS, and taught others how to use this system. This last year, I standardized the system and wrote a best practices guide to ensure that the GIS continues to be an asset to the program, and will be maintained.

Excavating the Saints' Rest basement! That's me!

Excavating the Saints’ Rest basement! That’s me!

Campus Archaeologist: During my second and third years in the program, I was the Campus Archaeologist and led the day to day operations of the program. It was an exciting time to be leading the archaeology crew- the steam tunnels were being replaced across campus, allowing for major shovel testing and excavations in previously unexplored areas. I got to watch Morrill Hall be demolished, but also recover and document the boiler building that was used for the structure from 1902-1905. One of the most rewarding experience of my role as Campus Archaeologist was getting to work with a broad range of people from the university and in the community. I really enjoyed collaborating on construction projects with the various crews, teaching the public about the archaeological work we were doing, and training undergraduates in field and lab methods. Probably one of the coolest things I got to do, was excavate Saints’ Rest, the first dormitory. We were able to find the dividing wall between two parts of the basement, and the metal parts of the door that would have divided it. We also found the chimney to the building- it had simply fallen off the back and been buried. It was an incredible find!

2015 Field School: One of the most rewarding experiences I had during graduate school, was helping with CAP’s 2015 field school. This past summer, I had the incredible opportunity to be the assistant director for the CAP field school, which excavated an area behind the Admin building, just south of the river. I love teaching and field work, so this was an amazing chance to combine this love and learn more about MSU’s past. We found hundreds of artifacts, interesting features, and were able to connect the deposit back to the Gunson household. The excavation provided us with a fascinating look into an era of campus occupation that we hadn’t previously found much material for, and told an interesting narrative about the changing nature of a single household as well as the broader landscape.

This means no more photos of my hands!

This means no more photos of my hand with artifacts! Maybe that’s a good thing…

Working with Historic Artifacts: I love the challenge of working with historic artifacts, particularly trying to use them to better understand MSU’s history. Because we have text and photographs in these periods, we can learn a lot about the artifacts and connect them to broader interesting stories. It is a fascinating challenge to connect histories of objects to the specific history of MSU. I’ve had the chance to learn about listerine bottles, makeup containers, various ceramic patterns, Frozen Charlotte dolls, changes in bottle glass over time, souvenir glass (one of my favorites), and even the development of the paper clip. Learning the history of each object makes our understanding of the past so much richer, and gives us insight into the daily lives of historic students. I am truly going to miss getting handed an artifact and having to identify it on the spot (promise to send me photos!).

There are things I’m really going to miss about CAP- getting to work on a wide range of field projects and excavating a historic landscape, getting the opportunity to identify cool new historic artifacts, connecting archives to archaeological work, working with a diverse range of colleagues to solve problems, and getting the opportunity to actively change and add to the history of my university. Not only did a learn a lot about MSU’s history (I can do a pretty awesome historic tour of campus), but it solidified within me a Spartan identity and a pride for my university. As I move into the next chapter of my career, I’m thankful for the experiences I’ve had, the colleagues I’ve gotten to work with, and the constant guidance and encouragement of Dr. Goldstein. Go Green!

Cheers,

Katy Meyers Emery

Wisconsin Extracts: A Tasteful Tale of Artificial Flavoring in the Midwest

I am from Wisconsin. Not only was I born and raised there, but I am also a Wisconsin stereotype—I grew up on a dairy farm. After 25 years in the Dairy State, I relocated to Illinois, but I never felt at home on the flat plains. I moved to Michigan a few years later and although the Great Lakes State has its own unique cultural flavor, there is a sense of familiarity here among the lakes and woods.

However, a sense of excitement still moves through me whenever I find a connection to my home state here in Michigan. The discovery that yet another treasure from the privy excavated by CAP last summer also originated in Wisconsin filled me with curiosity. The artifact in question is a bottle embossed with the words “Flavoring Extract” on the front panel and “Tallman and Collins” on the side.

Extract Bottle from West Circle Privy

Extract Bottle from West Circle Privy

Side of Extract Bottle from West Circle Privy - Reads "Tallman & Collins"

Side of Extract Bottle from West Circle Privy – Reads “Tallman & Collins”

William Henry Tallman - Image Source

William Henry Tallman – Image Source

Tallman and Collins Manufacturing was a company in Janesville, WI. The company’s founder, William Henry Tallman, was the son of William Morrison Tallman, a renowned lawyer and abolitionists, whose grand house (now a museum in Janesville) hosted a short stay from Abraham Lincoln in 1859. William Henry did not follow in his father’s political footsteps, instead purchasing a stake in a local drugstore business. By 1857, Tallman was running the company and took on Henry W. Collins as his new partner. Initially, Tallman and Collins was an import and wholesale business, selling medicine, drugs, chemicals, perfumery, and liquors. By 1864, Tallman expanded the business to include manufacturing a new line of perfumes and extracts. However, by 1869, Tallman and Collins ended their business partnership and Tallman continued on, focusing solely on perfume manufacture. Tallman perfumes and colognes were incredibly popular in the 1870s, but the company closed in 1883 due to William’s poor health.

Tallman and Collins offices, 609 W. Court St, Janesville, WI

Tallman and Collins offices, 609 W. Court St, Janesville, WI – Image Source

While it may seem odd that a company known for its perfumes also manufactured flavoring extracts, it was, in fact, a common pairing. The rise of organic chemistry in the mid-nineteenth century led to a flourishing field of crafting new fragrances, and given the close relationship between smell and taste, also led to the discovery of synthetic flavors. Various fruit-flavored candies, full of delicious synthetic flavor, were one of the attractions of the 1851 Crystal Palace exhibition in London, which was a celebration of the world’s technological advancements.

Advertisement in the Wisconsin and Minnesota Gazetteer, Shipper's Guide and Business Directory for 1865-'66

Advertisement in the Wisconsin and Minnesota Gazetteer, Shipper’s Guide and Business Directory for 1865-’66

In the aftermath of the Industrial Revolution and increasingly mass-produced food, there was a need to make otherwise bland processed foods a bit more palatable. Spices and natural flavoring extracts, a major component of worldwide trade, were expensive, so chemically synthesized flavors became a cheaper alternative for giving food some extra delicious flavor. Tallman and Collin’s company jumped on the flavoring market a mere thirteen years after its world debut, demonstrating Tallman’s business acumen. Although better know for his perfumery, the presence of its extracts in Michigan suggest their demand was great enough to warrant distribution to other parts of the Midwest.

Cheese extract - it actually exists!"

Cheese extract – it actually exists!

The flavor contained within our privy bottle remains a mystery (a chemical analysis of the contents are perhaps a bit out of the scope of CAP’s resources). The likeliest candidate is the one of the earliest and most common artificial flavors, vanilla (synthesized through the chemical vanillin), used to make early MSU campus food just a smidge less bland. However, in my vivid imagination, it contained cheese extract, obtained by another Wisconsinite desperate for the flavor of home while away at school. Fanciful interpretations aside, this small bottle provides us the opportunity to explore the history of chemistry, product distribution, and food trends and preferences of the recent past, a delicious addition to our knowledge, indeed.

Sources:

Hayes, Dayle and Rachel Laudan
2009    Food and Nutrition, Volume 7: South Asian Cuisines to Yogurt. Marshall Cavendish, Tarrytown, NY.

Wisconsin and Minnesota State Gazetteer, Shippers’ Guide and Business Directory for 1865-’66. Geo. W. Hawes, Publisher and Compiler, Indianapolis.

(http://www.forwardjanesville.com/LinkClick.aspx?fileticket=1Kq-H2rKZUg%3D&tabid=134)

http://macjanesville.blogspot.com/2009/07/william-morrison-tallman.html

http://www.popsci.com/history-flavors-us-pictorial

Bath houses, race, and gender: My year as a CAP Fellow

This blog post is a quick review of my work for this year as a CAP graduate fellow. I had two major projects, first investigating the presence of bath houses and privies in the Sacred Space and second researching Myrtle Craig (MSU 1907), the first black female graduate of MSU. These two projects shed some interesting light on Phase II of MSU’s history, a period of opportunities and challenges that affected the growth of MSU in the 20th century.

As it turns out, investigating the privies and bath houses of old campus is in fact, a dirty job. The archives at times reveal mundane quips about sanitation and at other times heated debates on the construction and maintenance of campus lavatories. Something that was seen as an after thought in the mid-19th century became the center of board meetings by the end of the century. The drama concerning who could have private wash rooms and bathrooms in their faculty home or office was quite startling. One spot in particular, between old Abbot hall and the armory, seemed to be a preferred location for bathing houses from at least 1870 until way into the 1930s. This archival project was informative as I dove into a different time period than my usual CAP activities. It allowed me to practice some of the essential tools of archival research; taking accurate and descriptive notes, outlines for necessary information, and a clear set of goals, lest you be terrible lost in the sea of potential projects! Hopefully this information will allow us to investigate this area and time period in a more strategic way to enhance our understanding of this important phase of MSU’s history.

During my investigations of Phase II I stumbled across archival materials about Myrtle Craig. This was just in time for Black History Month so I decided to dig a little deeper and see what connections we could find between her life on campus and what we already knew from CAP work. I began exploring the MSU archives for tidbits about life on campus and remembered that the early 1900s was a definite turning point for women in general. I consulted with Amy Michael as she has produced years of work on gender on campus to see how we could gain a deeper understanding of the complexities between race and gender on campus and what could the artifacts tell us about these complexities. As we stated in our earlier blogs, women were highly restricted to certain areas of campus, but when you had the federal laws of racial segregation, the limits and resources available to Myrtle were problematic to say the least. A chance encounter with Dr. Denise Maybank, Vice President for Student Affairs and Services, led to creating a display about Myrtle, race, and gender on campus for the Student Services building. With the addition of CAP intern Jasmine Smith, who has an interest in museum displays, we created a display that details the time line of Myrtle’s life on campus and the opportunities and challenges of the race and gender in the first decade of the 20th century. This project combined all of our strengths and produce a visualization of the early complex history between MSU and its African American student body.

This summer I will keep looking into bath houses on and around the Sacred Space and working with CAP excavations as needed. I look forward to learning more about Phase II, its impact on MSU and the push towards a more inclusive experience for Spartan country.

It’s a Wrap! Five Years with CAP

Amy digging a shovel test pit

Amy digging a shovel test pit

I can’t believe I’m typing this, but next month I will graduate from MSU and be let loose into the world as a real, live Anthropologist. I have been very fortunate to be employed as a graduate researcher with CAP since 2010. As a physical anthropologist, I entered graduate school thinking I’d just study old bones but I have found a real love for historic archaeology. I credit CAP and Dr. Goldstein with fostering this interest in me. Each year with CAP has taught me something new, so Lisa suggested that I re-CAP (ha!) my time in my final blog post. In no particular order:

1) Gender on the historic campus – This project has consumed my CAP research for the past two years. This project taught me so much about the early female experience at MSU. It was incredible fun to dig through the University Archives, looking through scrapbooks and photos, trying to piece together the trials and lifeways of female students. Women were far from docile beings content with a sliver of the education their male peers were receiving! There were quite a few muckrakers and rabble rousers in the early female student crowd and it has been inspiring to read about their lives. The articulation of material culture excavated by CAP and the archival documents has been a welcome challenge, pulling me into a direction I never thought I’d go before my CAP involvement.

2) Privy research – Though I was not part of the initial excavation, I was tasked with doing background research on historic privies as part of the More Than Just Nightsoil poster presented at the MAC last year. I never knew privies were so interesting! I really enjoyed reading through published works on privies, as well as finding out about the laypersons who dig old outhouses. Something I previously may have dismissed as trivial or uninteresting (or, let’s face it, kind of gross) became something I still Google. Plus, I got to take photomicrographs of seeds recovered from the nightsoil! Any excuse to put something under a microscope gets me excited.

Amy examining a seed from the privy under the microscope

Amy examining a seed from the privy under the microscope

3) Excavation in the historic greenhouse – I’ve had the opportunity to excavate a lot of cool places on campus thanks to CAP, but the historic greenhouse (now demolished) was certainly the coolest. The CAP crew walked around inside, taking measurements and checking out the overgrown plants and ruins. To be inside this abandoned place on an otherwise thriving campus was definitely surreal.

Amy explains an artifact at Bennett Woods Elementary School Science Fair

Amy explains an artifact at Bennett Woods Elementary School Science Fair

4) Public Outreach – Over the years, I’ve done a lot of public outreach activities with CAP where we speak to schools or community groups. I think the best part of these events is that we continually learn how to present archaeology to the public in a way that is accessible yet also underscores the importance of the field. It’s easy for uninformed people to dismiss archaeological materials as “just” old stuff, but public outreach allows us to articulate why and how these items are linked to the past (and, critically, why people should care). Seeing the public, especially children, start to think about the past as it relates to the present is so satisfying. Human curiosity and critical thought is definitely stoked when holding an artifact.

5) Working with Dr. Goldstein and the CAP fellows – Okay, I promise I didn’t put this on the list to be a brown noser. I have met and worked with people through CAP that I probably wouldn’t have interacted with otherwise – we were in different cohorts, never took classes together, had wildly different research foci, etc. But, CAP brought me and some of my best graduate school friends together. Dr. Goldstein has always fostered an inclusive and fun environment in CAP meetings and she made me feel like I was part of a research team. I’ll remember CAP meetings as full of laughs, good-natured ribbing, and lots of game planning. I really appreciate Dr. Goldstein treating us like we all had something valuable to contribute, as well as letting us in on the inner workings of a university (e.g. telling us about meetings she had with campus operations folks, guiding us through setting up and advertising public outreach events, helping us find funding, and more).

Amy and Sylvia Shovel Skimming

Amy and Sylvia Shovel Skimming

6) Collaboration with University Archives – I think that going to the Archives was one of my favorite parts of CAP. Sometimes it was frustrating and sometimes I would spend a couple hours there and come away with no valuable information, but the feeling of flipping through old photos and scrapbooks will always stay with me. As a lover of all things old, I enjoyed putting on the little white gloves and diving into the stacks to see what I could find. Going to the Archives, especially in the winter, was kind of like a non-field archaeology in a way. I still got to dig around in other peoples’ lives!

7) Hanging out in the lab – The CAP lab is bursting with artifacts. Seriously, go check it out sometime when Lisa is down there. Bags and bags of artifacts sit on the benches waiting for cataloging and analysis. I did a very speedy analysis of artifacts from the Gunson assemblage for my gender project and it was so fun to just sit in the lab and see what came out of the bags. I’ve now blogged about Listerine bottles, nail polish toppers, and old doll heads – all things I never knew a single fact about before CAP! Any lab rat can tell you that there is a great satisfaction in identifying, labelling, documenting, and researching – the breadth and quantity of the materials excavated by CAP ensures that the lab rats will be happy for years to come. As someone who generally only handles artifacts from places far removed in time and space from my own experience, it was so cool to identify and research artifacts used by students who graduated from my same university.

Well, I could go on but I’ll leave the list at lucky number seven. It has been a fantastic and fulfilling experience to work as a CAP researcher for the past five years and I hope that I can continue to be associated with the program in some form in the future. I encourage all MSU Anthropology students to consider working with CAP at some point during your college careers. I’ve learned so much more than just the historical archaeology of our campus. Thank you to Dr. Goldstein, my CAP cohorts, and the University Archives for a collegial academic experience.

 

 

Ding Ding Ding Went the Trolley: Finding the Campus Streetcar Line

With the semester almost over that can mean only one thing for CAP, the impending start of summer campus construction. Although there isn’t anything scheduled as large and complex as the steam tunnel renovation project that has engulfed north campus past few years, there is some work going on in important areas of north campus. The project I’m focusing on right now involves sidewalk, landscaping, and parking changes to the Abbot Road entrance.

The Abbot Road entrance as it exists today is a very familiar part of campus to most students. It’s where the Union is, as well as many of the dorms. However, things looked very different there, not all that long ago. This area contained many historically significant buildings and objects including the Weather Bureau, Y.M.C.A., Faculty Row House #6 and #7, Station Terrace, the streetcar turnout point and streetcar waiting room. Recently, I’ve been conducting research on the streetcar to try and pinpoint the area for the waiting room, and the exact spot it made it’s entrance and turn around.

1924 Campus Map Showing Streetcar Line and Buildings. Image Courtesy of MSU Archives & Historical Collections

1924 Campus Map Showing Streetcar Line and Buildings. Image Courtesy of MSU Archives & Historical Collections

Travel to the college in the early years was difficult. The plank road from Lansing to campus was not pleasant to travel. Many students hired private wagons to transport them. To let the wagon driver know a pick up was needed, you had to climb to the tower on top of Williams Hall and raise a flag. Calling an Uber is much easier these days!

Split-Rock. Image Source

Split-Rock. Image Source

Once the electric streetcar line was established in Lansing, the line along Michigan Avenue only went as far at the Half-way Rock. A quick tangent in case you don’t know about this special rock. The Half-way Rock, also known as the split rock was a large bolder almost exactly at the midway point between the Capitol and the campus gate. It served as a popular rest station. At some point, a cherry tree began to grow out of the center of the rock, splitting it in half. In 1924 the rock was removed due to the widening of Michigan Avenue. Half of the rock was placed in the southwest corner of the Union where a cherry tree, much like the tree that split the rock in half, was planted next to it. Stop by sometime and read the poem written on the dedication plaque.

By 1894 the streetcar line was extended to reach the Beal entrance of the University. There was significant push back from some officials at the college regarding extending the streetcar line further. They feared that this would attract the “undesirable element” from Lansing, and give students easy access to downtown Lansing bars. However, the increase in female enrollment post 1896 swayed many regarding the need for better, safer transportation and the streetcar line was extended onto campus. The streetcar line at the time is noted as being rather unreliable. Articles in the M.A.C. record note that the cars did not run on time, and the electrical cabling that powered the cars was ill equipped, causing the cars to certainly lose power at one point or another during the journey. In fact, the February 28th 1905 issue of the M.A.C. record contains a song written by the students about the streetcar problems.

Streetcar Song. M.A.C. Record 1905 - Source

Streetcar Song. M.A.C. Record 1905 – Source

The line entered campus across from the Michigan Avenue and Evergreen intersection, and crossed over onto what today is Abbott Road. This is where the small waiting room was originally placed. In 1902 the waiting room was demolished, and moved into the Station Terrace building. Station Terrace originally housed researchers from the M.A.C. experiment station, and later housed bachelor instructors, earning it the nick name the Bull Pen. From 1903-1923 this building also housed the East Lansing post office. In 1924 the building was actually moved off campus, to 291 Durand Street, so it will be interesting to see what may remain of the structure.

Streetcar line, waiting room, and Station Terrace. Image Source

Streetcar line, waiting room, and Station Terrace. Image Source

Weather Bureau on left with streetcar entrance. Image Source

Weather Bureau on left with streetcar entrance. Image Source

The campus portion of the streetcar line was removed in the mid 1920s. You can see on this 1927 map that Abbot Road is beginning to look much like it does today. Streetcar service continued in East Lansing until 1933 when the tracks were torn up and paved over. We’re planning on conducting some preliminary shovel test pits next week in the area of Station Terrace and the streetcar turn around. It will be interesting to see what remains!

1927 Campus Map - Image Courtesy of MSU Archives & Historical Collections

1927 Campus Map – Image Courtesy of MSU Archives & Historical Collections

Sources:

http://kevinforsyth.net/ELMI/streetcar.htm

James DeLoss Towar. History of the City of East Lansing. 1933

M.A.C. Record

-http://onthebanks.msu.edu/Object/1-4-456/the-mac-record-vol-01-no-34-september-29-1896/

-http://onthebanks.msu.edu/Object/1-4-575/the-mac-record-vol06-no12-december-4-1900/

-http://onthebanks.msu.edu/Object/1-4-625/the-mac-record-vol10-no23-february-28-1905/

MSU Archives

 

 

Let’s Ketchup: Curtice Brothers Preservers Ketchup Bottles from the Gunson Assemblage

Ketchup can be found in 97% of American kitchens. Think about that for a moment, 97%! Some people can’t imagine eating a French fry, hot dog, or hamburger without it. The only condiment/sauce used more here on campus is most likely ranch dressing (I was told once that each cafeteria goes through several gallons a day). As beloved as ketchup is in America, it’s origin lies elsewhere. It originally was not the thick, sweet, tomato based condiment we think of today. The original precursors to what we know as ketchup was a fermented fish sauce popular across South East Asian, known as “keo-cheup”. The earliest known western recipes for ketchup were published in the UK in the 18th century (possibly the 1758 cookbook The Complete Housewife), and were made from kidney beans, mushrooms, anchovies, and walnuts. Early colonists in North America adapted these recipes to later include tomatoes, and the first known recipe for tomato ketchup made its debut in 1812.

1899 Curtice Brothers Ketchup Ad - Image Source

1899 Curtice Brothers Ketchup Ad – Image Source

The popularity of tomato ketchup really took off following the Civil War. In fact, an 1891 issue of Merchant’s Review boasts that ketchup was the “sauce of sauces”, and in 1896 the New York Tribune declared tomato ketchup as America’s national condiment.Today ketchup is nearly synonymous with the Heinz Company, but they haven’t always cornered the market. At the beginning of the 20th century one of their biggest competitors was Curtice Brothers Preservers Blue Label Ketchup.

After cataloging two units from the Gunson/Admin assemblage we have identified at least eight Curtice Brothers Ketchup bottles. Having large amounts of condiment bottles in a historic assemblage is not surprising, but we have been surprised to find so many of the same brand. Brothers Simeon and Edgar Curtice founded Curtice Brothers Co. Preservers Rochester, New York in 1868. The canning business was created to save surplus vegetables and fruits that they could not sell in their small grocery store. By the early 1900s they were one of the largest ketchup and preserves producing firms, and continued production into the late 1960s. The specific bottles we have been recovering from the Gunson assemblage date from the early 1890s to the mid 1920s.

Curtice Brothers Preservers Ketchup Bottle Embossed Mark

Curtice Brothers Preservers Ketchup Bottle Embossed Mark

Base of Curtice Brothers Ketchup Bottle

Base of Curtice Brothers Ketchup Bottle

The Curtice Brothers blue label line helped distinguish their bottle from other competitors. In the early 1900s they were equally as popular as Heinz. So what happened? Why did their brand fall out of popularity? That answer lies in the benzoate food wars.

The pure food and drug act of 1906 was the first series of significant consumer protection laws enacted by Congress that also led to the creation of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The act served to ban foreign and interstate distribution of adulterated and mislabeled food and drug products. It required active ingredients to be placed on the product label. During this time benzoate was a preservative widely used in condiments, and the pure food law outlawed its use in food products due to health concerns.   On one side of the ketchup establishment were those such as the Curtice Brothers that believed that it was impossible to make ketchup without the additive, and that it was not harmful in the small amounts used in their products. On the other side were manufacturers, like Heinz, that believed they could solve the preservative issues with modern science. They began to make ketchup with ripe tomatoes, increasing the amount of vinegar, and charging more, but offering a money back guarantee. Multiple lawsuits were filed by the Curtice Brothers Company fighting the ban, but their protests ultimately failed. The benzoate ketchups slowly disappeared from the market. By 1915 the Curtice Brothers Blue Label Ketchup had fallen out of favor, due to their insistence at using benzoates.

The benzoate content now appears on the bottle label in this 1910 ad - Image Source

The benzoate content now appears on the bottle label in this 1910 ad – Image Source

The Curtice Brothers Ketchup thus far dominates our known condiments from the Gunson house. We have only one other ketchup bottle, Sniders Homemade Catsup from Cincinnati. Did the Gunsons love their ketchup? Perhaps. But the large number of bottles in this trash pit, specifically repeats of the same bottle type (such as the M.A.C. Dairy bottles) makes me suspect that Professor Gunson may have been saving and reusing the bottles, potentially in his experimental greenhouse. There also has not been a single paper label, complete or fragment, on any of these bottles. We will most likely never known for sure why there are so many ketchup bottles, but it’s always fun to investigate a small slice of the past.

Sources:

http://www.sha.org/bottle/Typing/food

Smith, Andrew. 1996 “Pure Ketchup: A History of America’s National Condiment, with Recipes”.

http://www.npr.org/sections/codeswitch/2013/12/02/248195661/ketchup-the-all-american-condiment-that-comes-from-asia

http://www.history.com/news/hungry-history/ketchup-a-saucy-history

http://curticebrothers.wix.com/curticebrothers#!The-Beginning/c1p05/550596df0cf27b8ab28dfe79

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pure_Food_and_Drug_Act

MSU @ SAA2016

SAAhead100

As we do every year, here is a look at the presentations that will be at the Society for American Archaeology’s Annual Meeting in Orlando, Florida taking place this week. We have a number of presentations, sessions and forums involving members of the MSU Anthropology program. Check out all the presentations below, in alphabetical order of presenter. Session number for program reference is in brackets.

Dziedzic, Erica [71] (Co-Presenter with Adrianne Daggett)

  • Session: Assessing Outcomes in Public Archaeology: Imperatives, Perils and Frameworks
  • Presentation: Dig the Past: Evaluating a CampusBased Public Archaeology Program
  • Date: Thursday, April 7 at 2-4:45 pm

Goldstein, Lynne [30] (Co-Presenter with Vincas Steponaitis and William Lovis), [48], [116]

  • Session: NAGPRA Applied: Stories from the Field on its 25th Anniversary
  • Presentation: A Brief and True History of SAA’s Involvement with NAGPRA
  • Date: Thursday, April 7 at 9-11:45 am
  • Forum: The Future of American Archaeology: Engage the Voting Public or Kiss Your Research Goodbye!
  • Date: Thursday, April 7 at 1-3 pm
  • Session: Buried, Burned, Bundled and Broken: Approaches to Co-Occurrence of Multiple Methods, Treatments and Styles of Burials Within Past Societies
  • Presentation: Discussant
  • Date: Friday, April 8 at 8-10 am

Lovis, William [30] (Co-Presenter with Vincas Steponaitis and Lynne Goldstein)

  • Session: NAGPRA Applied: Stories from the Field on its 25th Anniversary
  • Presentation: A Brief and True History of SAA’s Involvement with NAGPRA
  • Date: Thursday, April 7 at 9-11:45 am

Meyers Emery, Kathryn [116]

  • Session: Buried, Burned, Bundled and Broken: Approaches to Co-Occurrence of Multiple Methods, Treatments and Styles of Burials Within Past Societies
  • Presentation: Preparing Their Deaths: Examining Variation in Cooccurrence of Cremation and Inhumation in Early Medieval England
  • Date: Friday, April 8 at 8-10 am

Michael, Amy [116] (Co-Presenter with Gabriel Wrobel)

  • Session: Buried, Burned, Bundled and Broken: Approaches to Co-Occurrence of Multiple Methods, Treatments and Styles of Burials Within Past Societies
  • Presentation: Discerning Patterns of Intentional and Unintentional Movement of Human Bones in Maya Caves
  • Date: Friday, April 8 at 8-10 am

Wrobel, Gabriel [116](Co-Presenter with Amy Michael), [158]

  • Session: Buried, Burned, Bundled and Broken: Approaches to Co-Occurrence of Multiple Methods, Treatments and Styles of Burials Within Past Societies
  • Presentation: Discerning Patterns of Intentional and Unintentional Movement of Human Bones in Maya Caves
  • Date: Friday, April 8 at 8-10 am
  • Forum: Presenting the Ancient Mayan in 3D
  • Date: Friday, April 8 at 1-3 pm

An inkling from the privy: Cox’s Carmine Ink

In June of 2015, CAP discovered a privy during archaeological monitoring. This discovery was the first privy to ever be excavated on campus. From the collection of artifacts recovered during the excavation, this structure has been narrowed down to a decade of use, from 1850’s-1860’s[1]. (To learn more about this excavation click here.) During this excavation, two ink bottles were recovered, shown here. The one on the right is clearly decorative, probably being placed on a desk and used as an ink well. The one on the left however has been the subject of a many empty searches.

Ink bottle/well found in the privy. Left: Cox's Carmine Ink, Right: Cobalt Conical Inkwell

Ink bottle/well found in the privy. Left: Cox’s Carmine Ink, Right: Cobalt Conical Inkwell

The bottle on the left is an ink bottle, used to refill wells and other ink receptacles. It is embossed with the phrase, “Cox’s Carmine Ink.” As with most of our artifacts here at Campus Archaeology, the fun part of lab work is chasing leads on artifacts. This is one of the benefits of archaeology. Once the artifacts are excavated, cleaned and catalogued the fun begins. Historic archaeology is unique in that it allows us to create a very narrow timeline for the use life of the artifacts recovered based upon historic records. Usually, these lines of research yield a wealth of information. However, in some cases, we need to put a shout to the public to see if they know of any information about our items. This is the case with our Cox’s Carmine Ink bottle.

Cox's Carmine Ink Bottle from West Circle Privy

Cox’s Carmine Ink Bottle from West Circle Privy

There is no information on the bottle other than the lettering and no mold seams are evident on the bottle. I was unable to find a Cox’s Ink company but there is a wealth of information on carmine ink itself. Carmine ink has a very long history. Carmine dye, used to make the ink, is made from the cochineal, a scale insect that is crushed to produce a deep red hue that is illustrated in the border of the picture. These insects are native to Central and South America. It has been exported since the 1500’s from Central America and most assuredly used long before that by the native populations of Central and South America[2]. Aside from fabric dyes, carmine was used to make any colored inks that contained a red pigment, such as red, pink, purple, blue and black. There are formulas that mix it with a Cox’s gelatin to make a paint for ceramics and china.[3]

Base of Cox's Carmine Ink Bottle from West Circle Privy

Base of Cox’s Carmine Ink Bottle from West Circle Privy

Today, carmine is also called crimson lake, natural red 4, and cochineal and is often produced synthetically. It is used to color foods, watercolour paints, artificial flowers, and cosmetics such as rouge[4]. Some of its other uses include thermal inks for x-rays, fax machines and screen printing. A true carmine ink or paint is higher in quality and thus more expensive than it’s synthetic counterpart[5]. It’s use in food is highly regulated today in both the EU and the USA as allerigies to it have occurred[6].

So, what does all this mean for our bottle? Well, we can speculate many uses for this ink from red ink used to grade papers, an additive for a ink solution used to decorate cakes or other foods, an additive used to make paints for ceramics/china to an ink used for x-rays. All of these uses make sense on a college campus during the 1850’s and 1860’s. Information about Cox’s Ink company still remains a mystery however. If anyone reading this blog has information about this company, please contact either myself (@nicolle1977 on Twitter, nicoleraslich.wordpress.com) or campus archaeology at (@capmsu or campusarch.msu.edu).

Sources:

1.More Than Just Nightsoil: Preliminary Findings from MSU’s First Privy., Bright, Meyers Emery & Michael. 2015. http://campusarch.msu.edu/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/PrivyPosterMAC.pdf

2.Cochineal https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cochineal

3.“How to Paint on China”. The Art Amateur. Kellogg, Lavinia Steele. 1884 http://www.jstor.org/stable/25628234?seq=1#page_scan_tab_contents

4.Carmine https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carmine

5.Watercolour paints. http://watercolorpainting.com/pigments

6.Asthma and allergy due to carmine dye. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/13679965