CAPBlog

CAP Fellows Reflect on a Society for Historical Archaeology Anti-racism Training

CAP Fellows Reflect on a Society for Historical Archaeology Anti-racism Training

In this blog post CAP fellows share our reflections on an anti-racism, anti-bias training we took on Friday October 30th . The training was sponsored by the Society for Historical Archaeology and dozens of archaeologists, educators, and heritage professionals participated in the four hour session. 

The Haunted Tour Re-CAP: Going Virtual in the COVID-19 Pandemic

The Haunted Tour Re-CAP: Going Virtual in the COVID-19 Pandemic

With COVID-19 still dictating much of our day-to-day lives, Campus Archaeology made the early call to put all of our outreach events for the foreseeable future online or in some digital format. One of our most popular and fun events we put on is the 

Being and Belonging at State: Investigating Our History of Diversity and Inclusion

Being and Belonging at State: Investigating Our History of Diversity and Inclusion

In the wake of Black Lives Matter movement, started by Alicia Garza, Patrisse Cullors, and Opal Tometi in 2013 (Herstory 2020) and the mounting calls to reform and rethink institutions of all kinds, colleges and universities throughout the United States have responded by calling attention to their diverse pasts. Around 2015, Michigan State University published a webpage titled “Our Inclusive Heritage Timeline” that makes the claim that the school was established “on the ideals of the democratization of education and knowledge—of making a quality education accessible to all” (Link).

MSU’s “Inclusion” timeline seeks to demonstrate the diverse makeup of the school and its community from its founding in 1855 into the present, beginning with the promise to educate the male children of low income, European American farming families in Michigan. The document then goes on to list when first year female students were allowed to enroll (1870), the enrollment of first international students (1873), the year Eva Diann Coryell became the first woman to graduate from the college (1879), and the dates of many other “firsts”.

This timeline includes William O. Thompson (1904) and Myrtle Craig (Mowbray) (1907), the first African American graduates of M.A.C. Although their attendance and graduation certainly mark the racial integration of the college, we must question if these were acts of inclusion. Was the previously all-white college changing in meaningful ways to ensure these students were fully incorporated and were made to feel they belonged and had an equal voice in the community? While I am still researching the lived experiences of William O. Thompson at M.A.C., what we know of Myrtle Craig’s story suggests not.

Research conducted by former CAP fellows Amy Michael and Blair Zaid on Myrtle Craig’s life was presented as a two-part blog series in 2016. The series drew attention to the prejudice and segregation that Craig and many other African American students faced attending predominantly white institutions (PWIs) across the U.S. in the early 20th century and noted how “race and gender shapes experiences and outcomes of higher education” (Zaid 2016).

Craig is listed on MSU’s “Our Inclusive Heritage Timeline” despite the fact that at the time she and three other African American students were barred from rooming in the Women’s Building. In contrast to MSU’s claim to an inclusive past, for Craig, M.A.C.’s campus was just “one more place of segregation and discrimination” (Michael 2016). The discrepancy between MSU’s presentation of its history and Myrtle Craig’s lived experience prompted this study.

The graduating women of the class of 1907 sit for a senior portrait. Myrtle Craig sits in the far left of the second row. Image shows twelve female students and two female administrators.
The graduating women of the class of 1907 sit for a senior portrait. Myrtle Craig sits in the far left of the second row. Myrtle Craig was the first African American women to graduate from MSU. Image courtesy of MSU Archives and Collections.

Introducing a Blog Series

This series will compare MSU’s claims of historical integration and diversity with what CAP learns of the lived experiences of students of color, particularly African American students, in the first half of the 20th century. While we should celebrate MSU’s movement towards a more diverse community, it must be done with a critical lens. This blog post serves as an introduction to the topic. Concrete findings will be presented in later posts as I, and other CAP fellows continue to research this topic.

The series will explore the history of M.A.C. and M.S.C. from 1899 until 1955 through the lens of belonging, measured by diversity and inclusion, with a focus on the experiences of African American students. This blog makes a distinction between diversity and inclusion.

Diversity is similar to integration and involves increasing the number of social identities and/or categorizations within an organization, group, or institution. These can include race, ethnicity, gender / gender identity, socioeconomic status, language, religion, age, (dis)ability status, and sexual orientation.

Inclusion is a deliberate effort on behalf of an organization to ensure it welcomes diversity and where every individual feels a sense of belonging. Inclusion means all people feel respected, that they are empowered to fully participate in and effect change in the intuition (Global Diversity Practice 2020).

Race here is defined as a socially constructed and socially reproduced means of arbitrarily classifying and grouping people based on physical characteristics viewed as both innate an unalterable. While in no way biological, race does have real effects on an individual’s life and health (Smedley and Smedley 2012:25-35)1.

In 2018 MSU welcomed and celebrated its largest and most diverse freshman class (MSU Today 2018), but questions arise about the lived experience and college graduation rates of non-white students attending PWIs, particularly if institutions do not include and support them during their time in college and after graduation (Bridges 2020; Locks et al. 2008). By critically exploring our past we are able to better understand how processes of integration, and inclusion impact the present.

Assessing “Our Inclusive Heritage”  

This research asks if M.A.C. was an inclusive, welcoming space for students of color, particularly African American students, in the early 20th century. We focus on housing and social activities and spaces, which make up a large portion of college life and may be most essential the criterial for creating feelings of belonging.

Historians Keith Widder (2005:343) and John M. Smith (2007:104) present the term “segregated integration” to refer to a phenomenon at M.A.C. and other PWIs where “integration was accepted into some spheres of both public and private life, but not in others” (Smith 2007:104). The dissidence between M.A.C. administrators’ support for a diverse student body and the establishment and enforcement of policies encouraging racial discrimination were crucial their plan for integration, not an unavoidable situation. Much can be learned about MSU’s history by exploring the social boundaries established in the past and how African American students like Craig and Thompson navigated their variable exclusion and inclusion at M.A.C., built social worlds for themselves beyond the college, and the degree to which M.A.C. supported these students before and after graduation.

Because of her identity as an African American person and as a woman, Craig experienced a particular racialized paternalism at M.A.C. in which administrators prevented her from living in the newly built Women’s Building (Morrill Hall), but also made sure she did not live off-campus for her first two years. Instead, they arranged for her to board with Secretary Addison M. Brown and later with Professor Chace Newman and his family. As part of this arrangement, Craig paid her tuition and board by working as a maid in the homes of these men and their families (Michael 2016). Craig lived on campus, but was excluded from the non-academic spaces of the Women’s Building, one of the only places at M.A.C. women were allowed to spend their free time.

Post card depicting a house of Faculty Row, dated 1908. During her first year at M.A.C. Myrtle Craig boarded with Mr. Addison M. Brown at House 10 on Faculty Row. Image courtesy of MSU Archives and Collections.
Post card depicting a house of Faculty Row, dated 1908. During her first year at M.A.C. Myrtle Craig boarded with Mr. Addison M. Brown at House 10 on Faculty Row. Image courtesy of MSU Archives and Collections.

Other African American students experienced and navigated segregated integration differently, as demonstrated the stories of Myrtle Craig, Gideon Edward Smith (1916), and Everett C. Yates (1916). Smith found success and recognition playing football for the Aggies and started and was active in a number of clubs, while Yates played in M.A.C.’s band and orchestra (Widder 2005:346-349).

Michigan State College Varsity Football Team 1913. Smith is the top row, second from the left. Tellingly, his name is excluded from the text caption on the photograph. Image courtesy of MSU Archives and Collections.
Michigan State College Varsity Football Team 1913. Gideon Edward Smith is in the top row, second from the left. Image courtesy of MSU Archives and Collections.
A group photograph of the members of the military band in 1915. Everett C. Yates (1916) is on the far left, second row from the bottom. Image courtesy of MSU Archives and Collections.

Exploring William O. Thompson’s experience through the lens of segregated inclusion, we can see how social segregation reinforced and reproduced anti-Black racism and systems of white supremacy. We notice that his picture is conspicuously missing from his graduation yearbook and that his name does not appear in the rolls of any student organizations. We can recognize that this social segregation was facilitated by policies that enforced racial segregation in social and academic life on campus. We recognize that if Thomas was barred from living in dormitories as African American women were, then he likely could not remain on campus after dark (New York Times 1957:7; Widder 2005:344-345).

While he would have attended lessons in integrated classrooms and would have sat with his classmates during graduation, continued segregation prevented his full inclusion in the social aspects of college life.

Integration without inclusion affected the lives of African American students at M.A.C. before and after graduation. The racial segregation of dorms and elite literary clubs reinforced existing racist attitudes and conditions of social and material inequality, as colleges were, and still are, where many forge their future social networks. It is not clear how this segregation was enforced, where lines were drawn, where they were broken, and we may never know exactly why individual students at M.A.C. seem to have had different experiences of segregation.

What is certain is that systems of race-based segregation and discrimination are about power that that the goal of segregated integration was to integrate some areas of social and private life while keeping others firmly closed. What the exact areas were likely shifted over time.

Barred from elite literary clubs, sororities, and fraternities until the 1948 establishment of Alpha Kappa Alpha, the first Black fraternity at MSU (Detroit News 1948:21; M.A.C. Record 1948:5), many African American students created off-campus social networks. So far, this research has identified the African Methodist Episcopal (AME) church in Lansing and international student groups like the Cosmopolitan Club as prominent examples of these off-campus communities.

M.S.C. Cosmopolitan Club 1926. Image courtesy of MSU Archives and Collections.

Despite the presence of students of color at the turn of the 20th century and the school’s laudable history of diversity, M.A.C. remained an institution “populated primarily by European Americans and run by them” (Widder 2005:344). What did this mean for students of color on campus? What does it say about an academic institution that accepted the presence, and tuition, of non-white, non-American born students, but for many years refused to do the work necessary make the college an inclusive space for them.  

What’s Next? Where’s the Archaeology?

President Snyder’s reference letter for Myrtle Craig to Booker T. Washington. Courtesy of MSU Archives.

While early African American students broke many barriers of racial segregation through their presence at M.A.C., they also ran into others they variably challenged, subverted, ignored, or accepted though their daily actions. These students built their own social lives on and off campus, achieved academic success, and established careers for themselves after college. Yet, while M.A.C. administrators and faculty supported individual students after they graduated (Widder 2005:351; Zaid 2016) and challenged race-based segregation on campus in the 1940s and 1950s (Chandler 1952:1; New York Times 1957:7), college administrators did not make an effort to reconstruct the institution to fully include and support African American students and other students of color as they did for white European American students.

This form of segregation not only impacted the lives of students as they attended the college, but also impacts if and how those students are memorialized in the stories the school tells about itself and its history. In fact, until Widder’s research in the early 2000s, the legacies of Thompson and Yates were invisible and Smith alone was recognized as the first African American man to graduate from M.A.C. (Widder 2005:349).

This historical study of M.A.C.’s policy of segregated inclusion indicates that it may be difficult to identify the archaeological presence of the early African American students outside of academic. However, this ongoing research seeks to illuminate the racialized landscape of M.A.C, East Lansing, and Lansing during the first decades of the 20th century, similar to the ways CAP has previously illuminated the gendered landscape of the school. We ask three main research questions about life at M.A.C. that will help us to better understand the archaeology of MSU:

  • How did students of color and white students experience and navigate the racialized, white European American-dominated campus? What policies established, created, and enforced “racial” boundaries on campus, including policies to restrict, surveil, and constrain students? How could CAP identify the material signature of these policies?
  • Where did African American students live, if not on campus, and when were dorms desegregated? While we know that President John Hanna, hired in 1941, ordered the desegregation of living spaces at some point before the mid-1950s, it would be helpful to narrow this date if possible.
  • What are some of the spaces and organizations where African American students would have spent their social time and how this impacted their sense of belonging at M.A.C.?

To explore these questions, we will search census records, visit the MSU archives, seek to understand MSU’s housing policies, identify and map the social spaces African American students may have spent their time, and analyze speeches, lectures, and editorials recorded in the college newspaper. This research will expand the understanding of diversity and inclusion in MSU’s past by showing some of the ways African American students may have experienced and navigated the college’s policy of segregated integration.

For those interested in learning more about diversity and inclusion, Brown University Professor Dr. Tricia Rose has a number of resources to explore.

Notes

  1. This definition of race was crafted jointly with my collogues in Dr. Nedra Lee’s Anthropology 660, Critical Race Theory at the University of Massachusetts Boston, using Smedley and Smedley (2012).

Sources

  • Black Lives Matter (2020) ‘Herstory”. Black Lives Matter, Link
  • Bridges, Brian (2020) “African Americans and College Education by the Numbers” United Negro College Fund Link
  • Chandler, Paul (1952) “Why State Cancelled” Detroit News, January 11, 1952.
  • Detroit News (1948) “Negro Fraternity”. Detroit News, April 30, 1948.
  • Global Diversity Practice (2020) “What is Diversity and Inclusion?” Global Diversity Practice Ltd, Link
  • Locks, Angela M., Sylvia Hurtado, Nicholas A. Bowman, and Leticia Oseguera. “Extending Notions of Campus Climate and Diversity to Students’ Transition to College.” Review of Higher Education 31, no. 3.
  • M.A.C. Record (1948) “MSC Negro Fraternity” The M.A.C. Record, June 1948, vol.53, no.04. Link
  • Michael Amy (2016) ‘Myrtle Craig: Artifacts, Race, and Gender at Michigan Agricultural College”. MSU Campus Archaeology Program, February 19, 2016. Link
  • MSU Today (2018) “MSU to Welcome Largest, Most Diverse Freshman Class”. MSU Today, May 9, 2018. Link
  • New York Times (1957) No Time for Bias: John Alfred Hannah”. New York Times, December 24, 1957. Vol. 107, No. 36,494.
  • Smedley, Audrey, and Brian D. Smedley. 2012. Race in North America: origin and evolution of a worldview. Boulder, Colo: Westview Press.
  • Smith, John M. (2007) “Breaking the Plane: Integration and Black Protest in Michigan State University Football during the 1960s”. Michigan Historical Review, Vol. 33, No. 2, pp. 101-129.
  • Widder, Keith. R. (2005). Michigan Agricultural College: The evolution of a land-grant philosophy; 1855-1925. East Lansing, Mich: Michigan State Univ. Press.
  • Zaid, Blair (2016) “Myrtle Craig: Race, Gender, and A Changing Nation”. MSU Campus Archaeology Program, February 23, 2016. Link
Revealing the new APPARITIONS and ARCHAEOLOGY Virtual HAUNTED CAMPUS TOUR

Revealing the new APPARITIONS and ARCHAEOLOGY Virtual HAUNTED CAMPUS TOUR

Happy October! We hope everyone is doing well and is staying safe! Things are definitely looking a little different here this fall, as MSU has made the decision to stay remote for the entire semester. As our director, Dr. Camp, mentioned in her blog post 

INTRODUCING OUR 2020-2021 CAP GRADUATE FELLOWS

INTRODUCING OUR 2020-2021 CAP GRADUATE FELLOWS

Thank you Autumn Painter, outgoing Campus Archaeologist: As we say goodbye to outgoing Campus Archaeologist Autumn Painter who, in her two years in the position, continued CAP’s legacy of creative outreach, education, and mitigation while also profoundly shaping the future of the program, we welcome 

Campus Archaeology in the Time of COVID-19

Campus Archaeology in the Time of COVID-19

Greetings from Dr. Camp, the Director of the MSU Campus Archaeology Program.

This summer has been one of great concern for our community and nation as well as one where we have had to rethink how we approach Campus Archaeology amid a global pandemic. Under normal circumstances, our staff, which usually includes 6-8 PhD students, would be out on construction projects across campus during the summer. We spend our late winters and springs researching the areas of campus slated for construction so we know what we may find once the ground has been broken. We often do surveys of the landscape and, if we find artifacts or architecture, excavation before construction starts to see if they may be additional artifacts or cultural resources on the area slated for construction. We completed our research in the winter and spring for construction planned this summer, but then COVID-19 descended on our state and community, forcing nearly all workers on MSU’s enormous campus home to work remotely.

Despite the stress and uncertainty of the situation, our outgoing Campus Archaeologist, Autumn Painter, immediately adapted to the situation at hand and figured out creative, safe ways to keep Campus Archaeology running and our staff busy. Under Painter’s leadership, our staff put together fantastic research papers, reports, and innovative digital projects that we will be unveiling this coming year in lieu of the in-person outreach events we usually do. Despite our staff being locked out of their buildings and laboratories this summer, Painter made labwork happen by delivering the labwork to our staff’s doorsteps (with no contact, of course, and following all safety protocols).

Autumn Painter retired as our Campus Archaeologist this past July after serving two years in the role (we miss her already!) and putting in many years of time into Campus Archaeology as a fellow and undergraduate. We wish we could have celebrated her retirement in person, but we hope to do so when it’s safe. Jeff Burnett, a current PhD student and historical archaeologist in our department, is our new Campus Archaeologist, and he will be introducing himself in a blog post later this semester.

As our readers can probably guess, some archaeology cannot be done remotely. Archaeology is considered essential work due to federal compliance regulations, so many professional archaeologists have never stopped working in the field during the pandemic. This includes a few of us in Campus Archaeology. In late May, MSU began working on Service Road to install and extend utility lines. Within days of the project’s start, they hit a substantial archaeological midden, or, in non-archaeological jargon, a trash dump or landfill.

If you look closely below the pipe in this photo, you will see a dark-colored soil. This was a layer of ash containing artifacts that were found across most of the construction site.

We received permission to have two of us – me, the Director of Campus Archaeology, and one Campus Archaeologist (Autumn or Jeff), work on the site. We completed the appropriate COVID-19 trainings and followed COVID-19 safety guidelines, including wearing a mask while out on the site, taking our temperatures before we came to the site and when we arrived at the site, and using our own field equipment instead of sharing it.

This is just a snapshot of the artifacts we recovered from Service Road this summer.

I shared my experience of working on this site with MSU’s Alumni University participants on my YouTube channel this past August. These videos touch upon what it is like to work on a construction project as an archaeologist, what does stratigraphy mean, how to excavate a delicate artifact, and what happens to artifacts once they are taken away from the construction site.

Dr. Camp, Director of the MSU Campus Archaeology Program, on a rainy day at the construction site.

Though it was disappointing to not have our entire crew out investigating the site, we were very thankful for the entire construction crew on-site who were active participants in the project. They helped pull artifacts that they uncovered and put them aside so we could collect and study them. Mike Serafini of Strata Environmental Services, Incorporated corresponded with us daily to let us know how the work was proceeding and if they were hitting more of the archaeological midden during construction, which was a great help to us. Everyone on the site worked as collaborators and partners, sharing their knowledge of historic artifacts with us. It made our work easier given the restrictions and limited staffing we faced. We are so very thankful for all of the people with whom we worked and met this summer amid a stressful time.

Since we were not permitted to work in our CAP lab in McDonel Hall, Dr. Camp and other CAP staff’s yards and homes became makeshift labs to clean and process the artifacts recovered this summer from Service Road.

We look forward to sharing our discoveries from this site with our followers this coming year as we continue to document MSU’s rich heritage. We also plan to follow through on our commitment to focusing on the diverse people who have been connected with MSU and to the promises we made in our blog earlier this summer. While we are not able to do in-person outreach events this fall, we have developed some exciting new digital content that will hopefully keep you (virtually) connected to MSU. We miss our beautiful campus and are looking forward to the day we can return in-person regularly. For now, we leave you with some photos of our discoveries this summer. Keep an eye out for more artifacts on our other social media platforms!

We recovered lots of applied color label glass bottles, which have to be cleaned carefully to avoid washing or removing the label off of the vessel!
We recovered a wide variety of ceramic patterns and styles that will be fun to identify and date.
The History of Laboratory Space at MSU: Part V

The History of Laboratory Space at MSU: Part V

Welcome back to our blog series on research and historical laboratories on MSU’s campus! In our last blog we learned more about the first three buildings added to Laboratory Row and how they have been used on campus over time. As we mentioned in our first blog 

Check Out “A Tour of MSU’s Historic Faculty Row,” Now Live!

Check Out “A Tour of MSU’s Historic Faculty Row,” Now Live!

Even during a quarantine, archaeology does not stop. While we have not been able to get out into the field until recently, we at CAP have been working hard to create historical background summaries of areas that will be impacted by construction (a critical part 

The History of Laboratory Space at MSU: Part IV

The History of Laboratory Space at MSU: Part IV

Welcome back to our blog series on research and historical laboratories on MSU’s campus! In our last blog we discussed how MSU branched out to expand their research to fields outside sciences directly related to agriculture, such as chemistry and botany, by creating a Mechanical Shop Building. This space allowed students to get hands-on experience creating tools, such as a twelve horse-power engine, and helped to develop the Engineering Department! In fact, this program was so successful, in addition to the growth of chemistry and botany, that the College clearly recognized the importance of providing laboratory space to their other departments. This is illustrated by the creation of Laboratory Row, a row of seven buildings built over a 24-year period to hold laboratory space for different departments in the College.

Today, we will start exploring which buildings were added to Laboratory Row to see how research continued to boom on MSU’s campus!

Veterinary Laboratory (1885-1930)

While the Veterinary Laboratory has been talked in one of our previous blog posts, it is important to recognized how its laboratory space grew on campus! Veterinary coursework was seen as essential from the establishment of the College in 1855, as President Williams stated it was “fundamental to the very idea of an agricultural college” in his second report (as cited by Beal 1915:154). As farming and animal science depends on the ability to keep livestock alive and healthy, it is easy to understand the importance of veterinary science to the early College!

Although Veterinary Medicine did not become an official course of study until 1910, the College could not have functioned without it, which likely led the College to offer courses in the subject in the 1870s (Beal 1915:154). However, as these courses continued to be taught in the College, the need for laboratory space became more and more apparent. So it is no surprise that when the College found the necessary funds in 1885, the Veterinary Laboratory was the first building constructed for what would later be known as Laboratory Row.

Left: Veterinary Laboratory, dated to 1886. Right: Veterinary Medicine class, dated between 1890-1899. Images courtesy of MSU Archives and Historical Collections.

The Veterinary Laboratory was placed next to the Mechanical Shop (also built in 1885), southeast of College Hall. The first floor was used as an operating room for clinical instruction on College livestock, while the second floor contained an anatomy lab where a horse was dissected by the students each fall term (Forsyth 2020a). Furthermore, the Veterinary Laboratory even included an elevator to raise and lower animals between the two floors (Kuhn 1955:151)!

Veterinary Laboratory with barns, dated to 1886. Image courtesy of Beal (1915:154).
Veterinary Laboratory with barns, dated to 1886. Image courtesy of Beal (1915:154).

This location was fitting because it allowed the new laboratory to sit right next to the college farms where they used to sit north of the river, unlike campus today (Forsyth 2020a). These barns later moved to a more southerly location, still north of the river, between 1902 and 1908, which led to the creation of a new Veterinary Clinic (now Giltner Hall) in 1915 (Forysth 2020a). After this move, the old laboratory building transitioned to a space for human anatomy courses until it was torn down in the summer of 1930 during construction of the new, modernized Anatomy Building (Kuhn 1955:352).  

No building has ever replaced the exact plot of old Veterinary Laboratory – the location today would rest west of Auditorium Road and north of the Computer Center parking lot. Due to this, CAP had the opportunity to excavate in this location in 2014. Check out our blog post on the Vet Lab excavation to learn more about what we found!

Horticulture Laboratory (1888-Present)

As would be expected for an agricultural institution, courses in horticulture were offered to students soon after the College was established. But the subject grew exponentially with the addition of Liberty Hyde Bailey to the faculty, who’s lectures were so popular that unregistered students would sit in (Kuhn 1955:151-2)! As both a botanist and horticulturalist, Bailey brought the laboratory mindset to horticulture, teaching students that plants could be advanced through “cross-breeding, by hybridization, by the ‘chance of growing seedlings,’ and by selection from the wild” (Kuhn 1955:152). Even Bailey’s predecessor, Levi Rawson Taft, kept up the scientific vigor, as he introduced Michigan to spraying orchards in order to curb disease (Kuhn 1855:153). It was clear that hands-on research was revolutionizing the field, but it was unheard of to provide laboratory space for horticulture.

Horticulture Laboratory (now Eustace-Cole Hall), dated to 1913 (Beal 1915:88).
Horticulture Laboratory (now Eustace-Cole Hall), dated to 1913 (Beal 1915:88).

While the efforts of the horticulture professors and students won over the College and a Horticulture Laboratory was built in 1888, it was the first of its kind in the United States (Forsyth 2020b)! With no preexisting model, the College did everything it could to provide the department with proper amenities, equipping the building with a classroom, laboratory, seed-room, heeling-in cellar, a dark room for photography, and a grafting room (Kuhn 1955:153). In fact, an additional four acres was provided, which Professor Bailey used to create a fruit garden to give students hands-on experience testing new varieties of small fruits. The garden even included a system of tile drainage placed underground (Beal 1915:88-89)!

Left: Horticulture class, dated to 1893. Right: Horticulture students, dated to 1884. Images courtesy of MSU Archives and Historical Collections.

Unfortunately, it became clear that the laboratory was not nearly large enough and so a new Horticulture Building was constructed in 1924 to provide more space and updated features. After the Horticulture Department moved to the new building, the original laboratory took in the Basic College (Social Sciences, Humanities, etc.) before then taking in the Honors College (Forsyth 2020b). In 1961, it was renamed in honor of Harry J. Eustace, the Chair of the Horticulture Department from 1908-1919, who aided in good storage and transport of food during the first World War (Forsyth 2020b). In 1999, a donation by Jeffrey and Kathryn Cole, former Honor students, allowed for a new set of renovations, which explains its current name of Eustace-Cole Hall (Forsyth 2020f).

Horticulture Building (now Old Horticulture), undated photograph. Image courtesy of MSU Archives and Historical Collections.
Horticulture Building (now Old Horticulture), undated photograph. Image courtesy of MSU Archives and Historical Collections.

In 2016, CAP had a chance to excavate near Old Horticulture. Check out our previous blog post to learn more about what we found!

Agriculture/Entomology Laboratory (1889-Present)

As the first education institution in the state dedicated to agriculture, the Agriculture Department played an essential role in the College – in fact, it was the only department until 1885 (Beal 1915:135). And even after other curricula were offered at the College, Agriculture still housed the most equipment for instruction, was the most strongly advertised throughout the state, and earned $15,000 per year, starting in 1887, for the College for experimental work (Beal 1915:135; Kuhn 1955:162). As a role model for Land Grant universities across the nation, MSU has always taken its dedication to agriculture seriously!

Entomology Laboratory (former Agriculture Laboratory), dated to 1934. Image courtesy of MSU Physical Plant.

In 1889, the College finally provided Agriculture with its own building so that the subject could take advantage of laboratory work in addition to its efforts outdoors (Forsyth 202c). However, considering the strong focus of agriculture in the College, it quickly became clear that the building did not provide nearly enough space for proper instruction and learning. Therefore, just twenty years later, a new Agriculture Hall was constructed that was over three times the size of the original building and the “old” Agriculture Laboratory became the Entomology Laboratory (Forsyth 2020c). Luckily the space was an adequate upgrade for the Entomology Department, who stayed in this building until the new Natural Science Building was added to campus in 1948.

Left: Agriculture Class, undated photograph. Right: New “Entomology” façade on the original Agricultural Laboratory. Images courtesy of MSU Archives and Historical Collections.

Although it no longer held the Entomology Department, in order to celebrate their research in that laboratory space it was renamed in 1969 to honor Dr. Albert Cook, the Professor of Zoology and Entomology from 1868-1893 and the first curator of the museum (Forsyth 2020c). Cook’s Collection of Insects, originally housed in the museum, were moved to an annex at the rear of the Entomology Laboratory in the 1930s, but have since moved to the fourth floor of the Natural Sciences Building (Forsyth 2020c). The Entomology Laboratory was renovated in 1998 and has altered its function to house offices for graduate students in the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources. Recently, another set of renovations were completed in 2018-2019 thanks to a donation by Gary Seevers, a previous animal science and agricultural student, which led to the building’s current name: Cook-Seevers Hall (MSU Today 2019).

In 2014, CAP was called to the southwest side of Cook-Seevers Hall for a salvage excavation, as a short length of brick wall was uncovered by a construction crew (CAP Report No. 48). Upon further excavation, CAP team members exposed a large metal drum with metal pipes connecting the drum to the foundation of Cook Hall – a cistern! To learn more about this cistern and how they were used on campus, check out our Cook Hall Blog Post!

The creation of Laboratory Row was a big step for MSU in terms of research. But maybe not quite big enough because all three departments housed first on Laboratory Row later required even more space! MSU was a pioneer in providing laboratory space for numerous departments on campus and so needed a few tries – and more funding – to provide the right amount of space for their departments, but the ability of the College to meet these demands for space demonstrates its commitment to providing its students with hands-on opportunities and facilitating state-of-the-art research!

Join us next week to learn about the last four laboratories built as a part of Laboratory Row!

Resources

  • Beal, W. J. 1915   History of the Michigan Agricultural College and biogeographical sketches of trustees and professors. Agricultural College, East Lansing, Michigan.
  • Frederick, Kate. 2014. Cook Hall Cistern Survey Report. MSU Campus Archaeology Program, Report No. 48, East Lansing, Michigan.
  • Forsyth, K. 2020a. Accessed at: https://kevinforsyth.net/ELMI/vet-lab.htm
  • Forsyth, K. 2020b. Accessed at: https://kevinforsyth.net/ELMI/hort-lab.htm
  • Forsyth, K. 2020c. Accessed at: https://kevinforsyth.net/ELMI/ag-lab.htm
  • Kuhn, M. 1955. Michigan State: The First Hundred Years. The Michigan State University Press, East Lansing

The History of Laboratory Space at MSU: Part III

The History of Laboratory Space at MSU: Part III

Welcome back to our blog series on research and historical laboratories on MSU’s campus! In our last blog, we talked about the first two laboratories on campus, the Chemistry and Botanical Laboratories. Both laboratories highlight MSU’s commitment to agriculture, as a better understanding of the hard